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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.

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Some of you who claim they lost weight on account of coconut oil, also have been dieting at the same time, adding it to smoothies et... so how can you justify the weight loss saying it was from coconut oil??

Anonymous

10/18/2013 - 11:51pm

I started taking coconut oil about 3 months ago a tablespoon in my coffee twice a day. Haven't changed anything else in my diet. I do have more energy and have increased my exercise ( I bike about 8 miles 4x a week and walk a few miles a week - that's all!) I have lost 20 lbs in 3 months.

Anonymous

10/24/2013 - 4:12pm

I'm giving it a try, and I'll report back.

Anonymous

10/24/2013 - 11:11pm

l use coconut oil for everything so good try it.

Anonymous

10/29/2013 - 10:45pm

I have just started using it i hope it works. My do feel more energuzed

Anonymous

10/31/2013 - 3:11pm

Coconut oil in my coffe every day combined with low carbs has helped me to lose 2 lbs a week and decreased my dose of synthroid. It literally increases your metabolism so be careful if on medication for hypothyroidism. Also the fat keeps me feeling satisfied and I experience much less hunger than I did when on a high carb diet. Wooohoooo!

Anonymous

11/09/2013 - 10:15am

Your information is very out of date. Eating fat allows your body to burn fat. There's a ton of well evidenced research and case studies out there- keep reading further.

Anonymous

11/19/2013 - 9:59am

I have tried so many diets - Weight Watchers - Atkins - Ideal Protein. I would loose some weight but would gain it back, and then some. Most of these diets made me miserable due to severe constipation - no matter how much water I drank and fruits & vegetables I consumed - I would get constipated! This past Monday (11/19/2013), I started another low carb diet that includes chicken, eggs, fish, grapefruit, all berries, apples, and yogurt (minimal grains, no processed sugar, or "white" stuff). But - this time I have included coconut oil in my diet by making coconut chocolates made with CO, coca (Hershey's powder), honey and vanilla extract. I ate a couple squares every morning and enjoed them enormously (I added toasted almonds to give them a crunch)! I did feel a spike in energy along with an enhancement in my ability to concentrate better. I weighed myself the morning I started the diet on 11/19/2013 and weighed 209 lbs. I weighted myself this morning (11/21/2013) and I was down to 204 lbs. I lost 5 lbs in 4 days! And - I have had a bowel movement every day! I am not constipated. I also find myself not to be hungry and have to sometimes force myself to eat. The only advice I have is to make sure you take the coconut oil early in the morning. The first few days I enjoyed the coconut oil chocolates so much I ate them after dinner the first two nights. I really had a hard time sleeping because I felt so wound up - as if I took an energy pill before I went to sleep! I am 55 years old and post menopausal. I knew my metabolism was sluggish and felt tired all the time. I have been on CO for 4 days and can see a big difference in the way I feel and the increased energy I have. My cholesterol, HDL and LDL chemistry has been terrible. In a couple of months, I need to see my physician for my yearly physical and anxious to see if my lipid profile has improved. I will post again after my physical and let you know how well I did, and if the coconut oil worked.

Anonymous

11/21/2013 - 11:45am

To the person who commented last about making the coconut chocolates - those sound AMAZING! I'd love to try to make them - care to share your recipe?? :)

Anonymous

12/03/2013 - 10:34am

Is it or is it not true that eating coconut oil every day is good for hair health?

Anonymous

12/12/2013 - 11:42pm

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