Q. Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

By Joyce Hendley, January/February 2009

Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

A. There is science to suggest that the tropical oil may cause a slight (temporary) boost in your metabolism.

Anytime you eat, the process of digesting food burns off about 10 percent of the calories you consume. For example, if you consume 500 calories in a meal, your body uses about 50 of those calories to transform food into the energy that fuels your body. But theoretically if you eat a 500-calorie meal and replace the fat from oils or butter with coconut oil, your metabolism will speed up and burn more like 15 percent, or 75 calories.

It comes down to the molecular structure of the oil and how the body digests it. The fatty acids in coconut oil (called medium-chain triacylglycerols, or MCT) are shorter and more water-soluble than those in other oils, such as olive or canola. “So they’re more directly routed to the liver, where they’re readily burned for fuel,” explains Peter Jones, Ph.D., professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Therefore, they have less opportunity to be deposited in fat stores.

But there is no scientific evidence to show that consuming coconut oil helps people lose weight. There is one recent study, however, using an MCT oil, which suggests coconut oil may work in the same way. In the study, 31 overweight men and women followed a low-calorie diet that included just over a tablespoon for women and just under two tablespoons for men each day of either an MCT oil or olive oil. After four months, the MCT-oil users lost an average of 7 pounds; the olive oil group just 3 pounds. The investigators suggested that the metabolic boost produced by the MCT oil likely played a role.

Even if coconut oil does help people lose weight, few nutrition experts recommend it, since coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat: 12 grams in 1 tablespoon versus 7 grams in a tablespoon of butter.

Bottom Line: The extra calorie burn produced by coconut oil might give you a slight edge, but only if you make room by eating less of something else. A tablespoon of any oil sets you back around 120 calories.

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Got virgin coconut oil at walmart. Vet said to give to my dog for skin problems... it works well and I'm taking
it too. helps with stomach too. Must be virgin


06/29/2013 - 12:52pm

I suppose if you're going to use oil, then coconut is a good option. However, I believe it is still high in saturated fat.

Alice, have you tried the Fat Loss Factor by Dr Charles Livingston? He shares an awesome tip on how to lose fat whilst eating foods you enjoy, he's brilliant.

Here's a link to his guide:


06/28/2013 - 4:23pm

Absolutely agree with the person who made the distinction about the fact that this artical suggest it helps in losing wieght but they dont recomend it because it is a saturated fat!! It is the biochemical make up of cocnut oil that ensures it doesnt just boost your metabolism, it rehydrates your body, is great for your immune system and takes other fats ( that would not normally be easily excreted from your system) with it...on its way through the body ! I am sad that articals that are half researched, or not well thought out are published here. I am two and ahlf weeks post operation after major surgury, my hair and skin look amazing, I have no aches and pains, came of painkillers far earlier than others having the same surgury...about ten days earlier...Coconut oil - three table spoons a day for optimum health has played an enormous part...I am losing wieght and feeling energised. I have cut sugar, carbs, wheat and caffiene and try to eat as little processed food as possable....I like the idea that anything white is not good for you food wise ( mind you ...garlic and onions are a must ! ) happy chimping - PS Biona extra virgin organic coconut oil I could highly reccomend !

PS Using it on skin and hair - never put anything on your body you wouldnt b happy to eat !


06/10/2013 - 10:58am

It really is interesting how behind the times some Dr.s and nutritionists seem to be. The idea that all saturated fats are bad is so 1980's. Progressive informed health practitioners know that good saturated fats (unprocessed) are great and healing for the body. Trans fats (the cheap processed ones) found in much processed food are the dangerous ones that should be avoided.


06/05/2013 - 12:52am

I started using coconut oil as part of an anti-inflammatory diet (healing L4-5 herniated disc with recurring crippling sciatica from the discs and piriformis syndrome; fibro; arthritis in entire back and knees) along with tumeric both capsule am and tsp mixed with 1 T BL coconut oil dinner (only eat 2x day, all I can afford).

Seems to help with the anti-inflammatory though of course not a cure, but have been able to stay off NSAIDS. Was on Mobic for knees, ibuprophen normally 2 or 3x day (up to 600mg depending on pain) and percocet for major pain and migraine. Getting a walk in, not super fast, but am walking and doing stretches/strengthening of abs, back, glutes, outer hips.

Now the bad news, consistently exhausted after eating dinner to the point of nodding off sitting up - something like brown rice, 1 TBL CO, 1 tsp tumeric, salmon or clean soy-based or organic eggs for protein and veggies like broccoli (no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), diarrhea and I've GAINED 8 lbs mainly abdomen through hips/thighs and it won't budge unless I go off CO. Try that for 24 hours, everything else the same and lose a pound.

No energy boost, no weight loss with CO. Maybe I'm allergic? Or it just doesn't agree with me? Don't have this problem with EVO or sesame oil - that used as a bit of flavoring (about a tsp). So CO may be super for many, but I don't think it's a miracle and I don't think it's for everyone unfortunately.


06/02/2013 - 10:57pm

The only coconut oil that is loaded with saturated fat is hydrogenated coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has 0 saturated fat. So, advise people to use virgin and stay away from hydrogenated for health benefits... not against it because it has saturated fat.


05/30/2013 - 6:10am

I allergic to eating coconut


05/28/2013 - 10:02pm

How about for treating ulcers. Is coconut oil good for that.


05/27/2013 - 5:36pm

I have been using coconut oil on my hair for 30 years. It may be expensive but it takes so little to make your hair shiny and soft. I am now using coconut milk drink in my morning smoothies - tastes great.

Alisa _2

05/06/2013 - 10:41pm

Have used coconut oil for 1 week, twice a day in a cup of tea. I have lost 6 lbs with no other change in eating habits. Also use it as facial & body lotion & eye make up remover. Haven't tried it in my hair yet, but plan to soon. I have recently lost 50 lbs & had plateaued for about 2 months maintaining my weight but not losing any more. I am very pleased with the results so far.


05/04/2013 - 5:32pm

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