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.

Download a FREE 5-Day 1,500-Calorie Meal Plan to Lose Weight!


It really helps with my constipation! 1 Tablespoon in my tea each morning. It works for me.


10/21/2014 - 12:27pm

Saturated fat does not cause heart disease as we have been told. The saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you. Yes, saturated fat is good for you! Big name companies like General Mills and Kelloggs want you to believe that a diet rich in carbohydrates so they make money. Carbs raise your blood sugar which in turn raises your insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels cause your body to store fat for fuel instead of burning it. Aim for a diet with only 15-20% carbs instead of the recommended 55-65%, with 15% protein, and the rest fat, mostly saturated.


10/21/2014 - 12:04pm

No one has mentioned how good coconut oil is for the EARS. My daughter had continuous ear infections and has a perforated eardrum. Ever since I put just a small amount on a cotton bud and clean her ears, she has never used antibiotic drops. I also use it for myself and it is very soothing.
I have had malignant melanoma cut out twice and when I looked at suntan lotion I found that most of them contain cancer causing additives. So now I use coconut oil if I am not out in the sun for hours and it is possible to find a home made receipy for a higher spf using coconut oil as a base.
So many facial products contain parabens, which are carcinogenic. So coconut oil is wonderful. Use it as a make up remover and moisturiser. Although it does mess up the glasses!.
It will make the Hair shine and if you want a clean mouth it is wonderful for PULLING. Simply pull a small teaspoon full of the oil through the teeth for 10 minutes. Make sure to spit it out and rinse the mouth. The dentist will be impressed too.
Go for cold pressed. Enjoy frying, it doesn't burn, try it on bread instead of butter.
And to think I didn't know all the other information that I have really enjoyed reading on this site.
I know its expensive but worth every penny, I wait until the health shops have a special offer.


10/11/2014 - 4:41pm

This is supposed to be about the benefits of coconut oil. I don't think you need to rant about someone's poor grammar/spelling. Really ? Not all are as equally as educated as yourself, Mr. Anonymous !


10/07/2014 - 7:58pm

To the person kritursizing the grammar, do you go from site to site looking for something to do?


09/15/2014 - 5:53pm

Every morning's deliciousness is Coffee with butter and coconut oil.
I preheat my mug by filling it with boiling water and emptying. Put in tablespoon of grass fed unsalted butter and a tablespoon of coconut oil (purified tastes better than raw, cold pressed to me) and fill with fresh made coffee. Whisk with a little hand whisk for a minute and let stand for 30 seconds. At that point the oils have emulsified and the coffee becomes pale and creamy. This is so energising! I have been doing it for over 2 months now and it is still delicious every time.


09/13/2014 - 3:55pm

Coconut Oil: Great post regarding plateau. I have the same exactly situation as you can't lose the weight. Now, am starting to add 1 tablespoon coconut oil into my vegetable shake in the morning. Also, I read its good for diabetes. I'm trying to control it..Thanks :)


09/08/2014 - 1:34pm

"What a pity coconut oil does not also increase IQ, spelling and grammar skills. It does seem: spelling correctly, constructing and finishing a word or sentence, is a skill long lost, now unachievable. Well away you go kiddies. Take your poor spelling and grammar, your lol's and u's and roflcopta's with you ...groan."

The colon after "seem" is superfluous and awkward as is the comma following the word "sentence." In the sentence "Well away you go kiddies" you should have comma following the word "well." While we're bemoaning (or begroaning) the popularity of online and text colloquialisms such as "lol" and "u" I might point out that ellipsis are only to be used to imply word omission without the intention of changing the original meaning of a quoted passage. In other words, not the way you used them.


08/20/2014 - 7:41am

Sometimes I am sorry that many people, especially younger folk, don't take spelling and grammar etc so seriously these days. And things are less clear without grammar, especially when such basic things as full stops aren't put in. But we have a LIVING LANGUAGE, and things change. And lots of people really genuinely don't understand about semicolons ( ; ) and so on. Why make things harder in everyday writings and posters etc if people really don't get it? Literature may be different and we can be more complex if that helps then. And in the past - before Dr Johnson and his dictionary etc! - spelling was much more fluid. So different spellings are nothing new. And personally, I think txt speak, LOL and u and BTW are interesting additions to the language! I really do think it's helpful to remember it's a living, ever-evolving, language - it helps to keep things in perspective. Things change.. LOL :-))


07/16/2014 - 7:04am

I spread 1table spoon on multigrain toast and then top the toast with hemp seed. Its the best part of my morning!


07/13/2014 - 1:03pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner