Advertisement

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.

Download a FREE 5-Day 1,500-Calorie Meal Plan to Lose Weight!

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

After reading all of the comments, I appreciate those that understood about fats. Thank you. The comment before mine.. You do know that coconut milk is not the same as coconut oil, right? I am not overweight. I make sure I get good fats in my diet including EVCO Extra virgin coconut oil. I just found a really yummy recipe using coconut oil, raw honey and organic cocoa. I melt them together and drop some into tiny muffin cups, place into freezer.. yummy treats! I also add a touch of vanilla and teeny pinch of sea salt. Great pick me up... and the cocoa is loaded with antioxidants!

Anonymous

09/18/2012 - 7:54pm

The writer of this Article really needed to do a little more research
before putting this out for people to read. He is wrong on so many accounts. Maybe the
writer of this article and the people who disagree should go to the pacific Islands
and see for themselves the good it has done for the people there. The proof is in the pudding.
Coconut oil is Gods miracle, just like cannabis is.. Think people!

Anonymous

09/15/2012 - 11:06pm

In regards to the person who says they drank coconut milk and gained weight?
First of all ..it is the good quality extra virgin coconut oil...that is so very good for u and will help u lose weight if u use it properly. Not sure what was in your coconut milk? maybe other ingredients? besides coconut milk is not quite the same thing.
It is utilized by your liver burned as energy..not stored as fat.
and yes there are good fats and bad fats.....the fat from olives is a "good fat" the fat from margarine is a bad fat.....
whole foods are healthy for u "fake foods" foods made with hydrogenated oils are horrible and are what cause people to have all kinds of health problems!
good quality coconut oil can replace all other cooking oils including the spread u put on your bread or toast. (marg or butter)
coconut oil and goat's milk are the only two foods that contain good amounts of lauric acid
which is what is found in mother's breast milk........it is what protects us and builds a strong immunity/

Anonymous

07/10/2012 - 11:06am

i eat the raw cocunut i want to see what happens

Anonymous

07/03/2012 - 11:26am

I've tried and it helped me a lot with my weight loss, did loose 5kg in 2 months, but if you want to use for weight loss just found out it's better if I go on Low-Carb diet :)

Anonymous

06/21/2012 - 9:03am

If I want to lose weight from using Coconut oil, what types of foods should I be eating? Should I be eating low fat, low carb, no carb or just maintain a low calorie diet? I have been using coconut oil for around 3 years now for all the health benefits it has. I absolutely love it. I use it in place of oil or butter and in all my cooking. But, I have not lost any weight which I want to do . Can you suggest what kind of diet or type of foods to eat to achieve this? Thank you
angela

Anonymous

06/16/2012 - 9:56pm

I had symptoms of hypothyroidism. I went to the doctor - she did a TSH and free T4 test which both came back normal. I did some research for things I could take over the counter to help with the symptoms and I came across Coconut Oil. I read and read about the oil working so well that people with thyroid problems were able to come off their meds completely, people were seeing weight come off, helathier skin, nails, hair, better lab results, on and on. I decided to try it.
I am now on day 4. I have lost 3 lbs so far, I have more energy - enough energy to exercise! I sleep better at night (as long as I don't take it past noon). I fall asleep faster and I have no cravings for sweets - THAT is a miracle! I used to crave sweets all day every day. Also, I have been on Weight Watchers for the last 4 months and only lost 6 lbs. I am excited to see what happens now that I am using the Coconut Oil. I will, however, keep up on yearly physicals to make sure I am not "clogging my arteries" as someone suggested.
I started giving it to my dogs yesterday - I am curious to see if it helps with some of their issues.
If you have any quesitons feel free to e-mail me. mmre26@msn.com

Anonymous

06/13/2012 - 1:19pm

I have been consuming coconut oil, and feeding it to my children, for 8 years now. In this time, the following changes have occurred:
1) My kids' severe eczema is GONE completely
2) their constantly reoccurring ear infections: GONE. Have only had one mild one in 8 years.
3) After having yeast infections EVERY MONTH, I now have not had one in 8 years
4) Although I had exercised extensively for many years my HDL would never rise above 30. Today, it is in the high 60s. My Total cholesterol to HDL ratio is great and in the normal zone! (When I eliminated coconut oil for 16 weeks, my blood pressure went up and cholesterol ratio worsened to high risk zone)
5) My TSH levels (Thyroid) went from above normal of 5.5 down to 1.9
6) I used to feel so badly because I had no energy (linked with thyroid). Today, I am over 40, people ask me how I have the energy I do to do all the things I do.
7) People often come up to me and ask me what I do that my skin looks so great. No one believes I am 42!!! One lady from the Phillipines came up to me a couple of years ago and asked me whether I eat coconut oil because my skin is so beautiful....Hmmm.... I used to break out all the time...I hardly ever do anymore, and I have hardly any wrinkles (and I don't get enough sleep).
I am a nutritionist. I have been converted. :)

Anonymous

06/05/2012 - 2:38am

I started to using coconut oil for Candida overgrowth. It contains very important anti-fungal properties which kill off the candida cells. This diet is very restrictive because of it lack of grain, fruit, dairy, fish, and numerous other healthy and unhealthy foods. I use the the oil to keep my energy level up because of the lack of carbohydrates and toxins ( which spike insulin levels and feeds my Candida) and has so far worked. I have loads of energy despite losing 3 kilos in 2 weeks. Not sure if the coconut oil had any impact on my weight loss because of the restricted diet. What I say is that is made it easier to actually go through with it. It adds creaminess and taste otherwise a pretty bland diet. I never grave sugars or in fact any of the foods groups that I am not allowed. When my Candida problem is over and ever need to lose a few kilos , I wll go back to this diet because it is so easy because of the added coconut oil. Important to say that I eat loads of vegetable, meats, eggs, almond milk, oat bran, some nuts etc so I definitely getting all my minerals and vitamins without insulin spiking carbs. Check it out if you want to lose some weight quickly without feeling tired and restricted.

Anonymous

05/22/2012 - 7:16am

There is widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it is said to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart disease. The only "proof" is one four-decades old study. The study used hydrogenated coconut oil. It is now known that the process of hydrogenation creates "trans fatty acids" (TFAs), which are toxic entities that enter cell membranes, block utilization of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and impede cell functionality. TFAs also cause a rise in blood cholesterol. These substances are not present in natural coconut oil.

In other words, a study based on hydrogenated coconut oil has no relevance to the non-hydrogenated coconut milk or coconut oil that you eat
Another reason people believe coconut oil must be bad for you is misguided association: it is a saturated fat and "saturated fats are bad for you." Dietary guidelines inevitably fail to distinguish between different kinds of saturated fats and insist that saturated fats (meaning all saturated fats) are harmful.

This is not just misleading. It is bad science. Leading scientists now recognize that just as there is good cholesterol, there are also good saturated fats.

Fats are classified as short-, medium- or long-chain based on the number of carbon molecules they contain. Nearly two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids.

When we eat long-chain fatty acids, they must be emulsified by bile salts in the small intestine before they can be absorbed into our body. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids, such as those in coconut milk, are absorbed directly through the portal vein to the liver, where they are immediately available to the body.

In other words, most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is easily digestible and converted into quick energy. And these types of fatty acids are less likely to cause obesity because they are immediately used by the body and have no opportunity to be stored

Anonymous

05/17/2012 - 1:15pm

more smart savings

Connect With Us

20 minute dinner recipes
Advertisement

EatingWell Magazine

Advertisement

Today's Favorites

20 minute dinner recipes
Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner