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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I've just started on coconut oil. I put it in my fruit smoothies (banana, 1/4 c natural apple juice, 1/4 c coconut water, and started with 1 tsp of coconut oil, frozen strawberries, stevia sugar). I wonder if I'm using the CO in the best way for digesting it. I haven't tried it in tea yet (wonder when people say they use it in their coffee they have to blend it), do you have to blend it in tea also? Also wondered when used on your face, are you applying it directly. I have really dry skin/psoriasis on my face and some in my scalp. When you use it in your hair, if long for example, how much do you use and how do you get it to your scalp without making your hair all oily?


06/20/2014 - 8:24pm

A vegan diet rich in coconut oil, nuts, fresh fruit, veggies, beans, and whole grains has worked wonders for my family. Ailments that we didn't even know were diet related have magically vanished!


06/19/2014 - 8:33pm

I have a table spoon of it once a day mixed with my tablespoon on pure gelatin mixed with water and then adding hot water so it's a kind of drink.


06/15/2014 - 2:14am

To anonymous on 5/30/14:

I, too, have issues with poor grammar and spelling.....but rather than the negative, trite comments, I prefer to appreciate and thank the writer for the content. Maybe your efforts and time would be better spent volunteering in a school or community center. Someone so passionate just might make a difference.
And you have a nice day!


06/04/2014 - 10:27am

To the grammatically pious Anonymous,

That colon after 'it does seem' - should be a semi colon as it precedes a list. LOL

...."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."...


05/30/2014 - 3:11am

I have been making oatmeal, peanut butter and sometimes adding chocolate chip cookies. I substitute coconut oil in jar for the butter or shortening. I use truvia, brown sugar splenda and wheat flour. I have been eating at least 5 or more cookies a day for the last 3 months in addition to my meals and have maintained my same weight. It was important to maintain since I went on the nutrisystem diet Jan. 17 through March 17th and lost 10 pounds. I love cookies and watch my weight and have not gained a single pound eating them.


05/28/2014 - 8:45am

I was experiencing a weight loss plateau for a while even though I was eating healthy, exercising and maintaining a daily calorie defect of at least 1000. I decided to give coconut oil a shot and within the first 48 hours I lost a quarter pound! I carry very little water weight because I follow a low sodium, healthy diet that includes foods that combat bloating so I am pretty sure it was real fat I was losing. To confirm this I used my body fat meter and it confirmed that I had indeed lost fat. It has been 10 days now that I have been putting coconut oil in my oatmeal and 2 since I decided to consume another table spoon in the evening when I was done eating for the day and I have lost a total of 2.6 pounds. This may not seem like much to some but losing that much after weeks of being on a plateau is awesome! Hopefully, if this keeps up, I will be at my weight loss goal of 140 lbs (I currently weigh 153.2 after coconut oil) within the next 2 months! :) I highly recommend adding it to a healthy diet keeping in mind the additional calories though!


05/27/2014 - 10:00am

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.


05/23/2014 - 12:50pm

I'm 41 and my body is changing so much lately - regular gym sessions are a must, and changing my diet is too - coming from a Mexican Italian family its not easy to give up all of that food - but buying a size 14 pants is not I Just started taking Coconut Oil - on a trial bases - at first taste, it's like a spoonful of butter - and my gag reflex kicked into high gear - but I'm going to stick with it because I know that will pass - the actual taste is great though - so...this, along with my new menu, and workouts... I cant wait to see the results


05/05/2014 - 11:07am

Do we have a face book page for this please wood be interesting to read more.ON COCOANUT OIL. Thank you


05/04/2014 - 12:01pm

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