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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

I use coconut oil on butternut squash...add some cinnamon!!! yum!

Anonymous

01/13/2014 - 4:11pm

how much weight can you lose in a week taking coconut oil. is it best to drink pure coconut oil with warm water or eat coconut.

Anonymous

01/14/2014 - 6:57am

If You want to add it to your coffee you maybe want to put it all together in the blender, it comes out creamy more cappuccino like ( instead of oily) so if you add some vanilla or cinnamon ( or both) you'll be surprised!! Is delicious :-)

Anonymous

01/27/2014 - 9:57am

I put a few melted teaspoons of coconut oil in a bowl and add a dozen or so frozen blueberries and some coconut flakes. Stir to coat and set the oil.. Yummo !!!

Anonymous

01/27/2014 - 10:48pm

I melt my coconut oil and put it in my oatmeal. On the first day alone, I already could tell it was working. It helped make me regular (like Activa claims).

Anonymous

02/13/2014 - 11:42am

I've never bought coconut oil. Does it come from health shops.

Anonymous

02/17/2014 - 3:59am

We cut most gluten and refined sugar out, changed to real whole milk w/out hormones or antibiotics, switched to real dairy cream for coffee, try to stick to whole foods only and started exclusively using coconut oil aprox. a year ago my wife even makes chocolate candy using cacoa n coconut oil n nuts n berries. I've lost 60 pounds + my wife 40+ bp is excellent now, my joints feel so much better my mind is sharper etc etc etc. Stop listening to the people tryin to sell ya some fake substitute plastic bullshit!!! Eat real food with real fat with real naturally occuring sugars with real cholesterol use coconut oil and the pounds will just melt away they have for us!!!!!

Anonymous

02/23/2014 - 12:50pm

Saturated fat is perfectly fine. Grains and sugars are the real enemy.

Anonymous

02/25/2014 - 1:51am

I was just wondering I have ibs syndrome I read it could help with that and getting ride ofbad bacteria. I took a table spoon of it in my tea and my throat felt weird and my stomach too. And I don't know if this a good thing or bad thing

Anonymous

02/26/2014 - 11:55am

I have lost 60lbs over the last 7 months eating a low carb/south beach type diet, exercising 3 times a week. I started using coconut oil during this process, off and on. I stopped using CO for a while, stalled completely in my weight loss for about 6 weeks, and then started using CO for cooking everything and eating Paleo Wraps (made from coconut) from Julian's Bakery. Suddenly, I lost 2.4lbs in a week and my weight has continued moving down. Of course there cold be other factors, but I really feel it is the increase in CO consumption.

Not sure why everyone is taking CO pills and mixing it in drinks. It is fabulous for cooking. I made delicious coconut flour pancakes in CO this morning. Also, highly, highly recommend the Paleo Wraps.

Anonymous

02/28/2014 - 12:28am

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