Q. Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., 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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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

I have been using Merit VCO extra virgin coconut oil its excellent for health and helps in loosing weight


04/30/2013 - 10:15am

Great Article my friend!

I have also found for myself that adding a tbsp of coconut oil to my fruit smoothies not only boost my metabolism, but it also helped me loose a lot of weight! I lost 200 pounds on a diet I came up with by myself. It is a mixture of Coconut oils, lean meats, nuts, whole fruits and vegetables, brown rice, whole grains and cereals, coffee, black and green tea, dark chocolate, peppers, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, cloves, mustard, vinegar, and avoiding “white colored” foods as they tend to be refined and fattening. I got down to 2oo pounds from 400 pounds, lowered my cholesterol down to a goal of under 100, went from a size 50 to a size 34 in the waist (16 pants sizes) and I lowered my blood pressure down to 100 over 60. I feel great! much more energy that I have ever had!


04/22/2013 - 5:23pm

Iv bin using coconut extra virgin oil for 2 month 2 table spoons a day
And on my teeth and skin unbelievable clear skin white teeth
Wight los good for me www.Dayhillinsulationcompanie@gmail


04/21/2013 - 5:12pm

I don't know who's stupid about this article: the author or Dr. Jones?
The entire articles agrees that Coconut oil is much better than Olive oil & Canola oil (now, why would they consider Canola oil as equal to Olive oil when Canola is directly related to heart diseases?) The article also agrees that it doesn't store fat, it burns much faster, it is directly routed to the liver and is a helper in losing fat...BUT in conclusion, we don't recommend it for you 'cause after all, it's a saturated fat!!? Supposed "scientists" are still associating Saturated fats with Trans fats. Very sad.
What's more sad is that it is theses ignorant ppl that are writing "scientifical" articles which will be read by thousands of regular ppl who just want to be healthy. Hey, let's all go back to margarine and canola oil and be sick! Woohoo!


04/21/2013 - 1:35pm

If your nutritionist doesn't know that there are different sorts of saturated fat with different effects, find a different nutritionist. Sounds like a "calories in vs. calories out" adherent. Heads up: real science has never supported such a simplistic view.


04/15/2013 - 9:10pm

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