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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 hope these people who are trying to compare coconut milk with coconut oil and saying that coconut oil is bad for you really take the time to read these comments because they need to learn WHY coconut oil makes you lose weight and why it's good for you and also that coconut milk makes you gain because of all the sugar in it. I think there is enough proof in the comments that the original author really needs to investigate more.

Anonymous

02/28/2014 - 8:58pm

What coconut oil is better to be used : liquid or solid?

Anonymous

03/07/2014 - 12:26am

I've seen some contradictory suggestions on how to use coconut oil to help with weightloss.... One says eat on an empty stomach, the other says take right before eating a meal etc. etc. I have stomach issues and it actually manages to mess with my weight a little. (IBS) it's at it's worst yet and I have gained a couple of pounds (I'm apparently super full of poop.... sorry for being so explicit) So I started doing some research... And for those who will inevitably return my comments with "use a stool softener to go" lets keep it at I've tried everything and my upper intestines are still stuffed. UHHHHGGGGG! Please someone tell me this stuff will assist with at and how its BEST used.....

Now that I've had a moment of oversharing (I'll just consider it a "bonding experience" ;) I'll be watching for anything helpful. THANKS :)

Anonymous

03/27/2014 - 1:29pm

Liquid and solid are the same. It depends on storage temp. It melts around 80F

Anonymous

03/27/2014 - 5:07pm

Im new user of coconut oil. I bought it today for to cure eye bags under my eyes. Can anyone tell me about its really coconut oil can treat under eye bags. And does its really helps in weight loss. I bought extra virgin coconut oil, cold pressed by health paradise oraganic. It is better if i take a tablespoon for to loss weight. Can anyone help me with my questions? Thank u

Anonymous

04/05/2014 - 3:39pm

To the person that can't go to the bathroom and too full I'm not sure if this works as I'm new too but so buy a good magnesium supplement and take 3 at night and 3 in morn for the first week then just 3 or 4 at night! I tried everything and so did doctors then went to natural doc and they tought me this and I no longer have problems. Do get a good one as I have bought cheaper and I had to have like 8 a night to go but with a good quality I have 3 a night now! Hope this helps.

Anonymous

04/06/2014 - 1:14am

I bought some coconut oil because I wanted to try oil pulling. I'm having trouble with the texture and I'm slowly working on that. In the meantime I wanted to try CO in cooking. It's fantastic for frying, baking, and making healthier popcorn (the old fashioned way) as a snack. For the last few mornings I've been noticing a flatter stomach and wondered if CO had anything to do with it. I was consuming CO for the health benefits and had no idea that it assisted in weight loss/fat loss until I looked it up on-line. So, in my opinion, it's working. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me!

Anonymous

04/06/2014 - 8:33am

I've been using Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for nine weeks. I cook with it, eat it by the spoonful, oil my hair and skin, and have never felt better. My energy levels and moods have improved and I've lost 10.5 lbs. there are some great CO recipes and I love the taste for both cooking, baking or just eating out of the jar. The secret is to get rid of all the bad fats and stick to saturated fat. Get rid of the sugar, processed foods and refined carbs and soy laden products. There is plenty of medical research proving the overall benefits of VCO, and the health benefits of the MTC's that we have been brainwashes into thinking are bad for us by the Soy Bean industry and manufacturers of highly processes, packaged foods. It's all about profits - not health as far as they are concerned. Eat lots of fruits, veggies, protein and good high fibre carbs in moderation. Get out and go for a walk, or swim or do whatever exercise you enjoy. Get back to the basics and stop the low-fat, no-fat lie we've all been fed since the '80's. If that really worked, why is obesity and heart desease still rising?

Anonymous

04/10/2014 - 8:34am

last thusrday 17/4/2014, i bought 2 jars of virgin coconut oil in my local organic store.had spoonful at 6pm after my very late lunch. i felt my stomach got flatten a little after a couple of hours seems like i didnt it for 2meals.have this tshirt which was im not using yrs ago because of my belt bag-like belly and it looks gross :) today is 19 april im wearing that shirt and its perfectly fit for me. i am not feeling hungry after my last meal 6hrs ago and im not in the mood to eat for my dinner. i think this is because of VCO. i have taken 2-3 spoons everyday before meal.

Anonymous

04/19/2014 - 11:02am

One have to consume coconut oil with a low carb / sugar diet in order for one to lose weight. The same goes for consuming others saturated fat. It even show that if others saturated fat is consumed with a low carb / sugar diet, the cholesterol level will not be raised. As much is research was carried out by both Cambridge and Harvard, saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease. Obesity did not occur until the world was educated through the food pyramid that fat is the last group of food to be consumed and carbs are the first. Coconut oil can be consumed through a high protein low carb / sugar diet of which most carbs come from non starchy vegetables. High protein could also mean eggs which are more affordable. Then again everyone respond differently to food. Try out coconut oil with a high protein low carb / sugar diet and one will see and feel the differences in one week or two. Also one has to watch out for sodium which cause water retention. Expel excess water using parsley boiled in water. Has been using coconut oil for my weight loss journey and to date has lost 61 pounds in 6 months. My cholesterol level actually dip and close to normal. Also, no irregular heart beat for last 3 months. However, I am exceedingly obese and still have another 110 pounds to to go. I topped 330 pounds. For me, under the right condition of high protein low carb / sugar / low sodium, it is actually eat fat to lose fat. I consume 2 - 3 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil a day, all in the morning in an empty stomach straight and with my coffee (no sugar). My breakfast! By 2 PM, I will have my lunch of 400 calories of protein with loads of vegetables and by 6 PM, dinner will be of 300 calories also of meat and loads of vegetables. Total calories a day is 1100. My weight loss has been consistent averaging 10 pounds a month reflecting no loss in metabolism. Maybe the coconut oil has something to do with it. While coconut oil is no magic bullet, for me at least it aid my weight loss. As I say, try it out for one week or two to see if it work for you. What has one got to lose, rather than just procrastinating and questioning. Walk the research!

Anonymous

04/22/2014 - 11:38am

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