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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

I was drinking spring water with lime and Stevia for a while and lost a ton of weight. Well, I decided to try some milk alternatives (I have a slight allergy to milk) and tried coconut milk. Well, to my surprise I immediately started feeling bloated (like I had eaten milk and cookies) and by the end of the half gallon, yes a single half gallon I had stopped losing weight and was beginning to notice a change in the mirror, and not a good change.

Coconut milk has 5 grams of fat per serving. ALL 5 grams are saturated. I get annoyed with people saying that coconut is the PERFECT food or that Olive oil is so healthy you could drink it and not get fat. LIES. I use small amounts of Extra Virgin olive oil and eat organic peanut butter, but, just like the coconut milk too they are fats and will potentially make you gain weight.

Anonymous

05/12/2012 - 3:48pm

Because coconut oil is very very high in SATURATED FAT ..and usaluly food that is cooked in coconut oil is also high in saturated fat .saturated fat is bad fat .very bad ..too much of it in your body ..over time can start to clog your arteries which restricts blood flow around the body and too the heart which leads to heart problems, heart disease, heart attacks??> .and too much saturated fat causes obesity which has a whole range of health problems with it as well .it is best to eat healthy benefical fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated which is in olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados ..these fats help to take this bad fat away from your arteries and back to the liver where it is used ..these fats also help to protect you heart .so i would not eat anything cooked in those fats coconut, palm oil, i would just have things with olive oil

Anonymous

05/02/2012 - 10:38am

canola oil is NOT a healthy oil. Olive,coconut,flax and codliver oils are

Anonymous

03/31/2012 - 9:57am

Ive just started wish me luck:)

Anonymous

03/27/2012 - 1:00pm

David M.

are you exercising? as well??

Anonymous

03/05/2012 - 9:04pm

I heard that coconut oil give you Heart attack. So is that true.

Anonymous

02/24/2012 - 11:07pm

Most degenerative diseases are now linked to the over consumption of fructose and other simple carbohydrates. We need the healthy omega 3 and 9 fats to help keep our cardiovascular and cognitive systems functioning in an optimal fashion. We have to reduce the omega 6 intake to double the amount of our omega 3 intake as opposed to a 20-3 ratio. Over 10 years ago when I attempted to do this my weight dropped from 205 lb to 170 with no conscious dieting. Also my allergy symptoms lessened greatly. I have not needed any prescription medications in the last 5 years and my general health has been steadily improving which makes me happy because I'm 65. cheers Bob

Anonymous

02/24/2012 - 4:03pm

And she gets paid for this!

Anonymous

02/24/2012 - 1:35pm

I am from Trinidad and grew up on coconut oil. My parents, grandparents, neighbours and in fact almost everyone in the village where I lived cooked with coconut oil. They also mixed it with some other stuff and used it to massage their bodies and as a moisturizer in their hair. They lived a long healthy life without medication and did not have many visits to the doctor.

Anonymous

02/24/2012 - 1:27pm

Coconut oil can give you terrible diarreha, maybe that's why you lose weight....

Anonymous

02/24/2012 - 12:45pm

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