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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 have been consuming coconut oil, and feeding it to my children, for 8 years now. In this time, the following changes have occurred:
1) My kids' severe eczema is GONE completely
2) their constantly reoccurring ear infections: GONE. Have only had one mild one in 8 years.
3) After having yeast infections EVERY MONTH, I now have not had one in 8 years
4) Although I had exercised extensively for many years my HDL would never rise above 30. Today, it is in the high 60s. My Total cholesterol to HDL ratio is great and in the normal zone! (When I eliminated coconut oil for 16 weeks, my blood pressure went up and cholesterol ratio worsened to high risk zone)
5) My TSH levels (Thyroid) went from above normal of 5.5 down to 1.9
6) I used to feel so badly because I had no energy (linked with thyroid). Today, I am over 40, people ask me how I have the energy I do to do all the things I do.
7) People often come up to me and ask me what I do that my skin looks so great. No one believes I am 42!!! One lady from the Phillipines came up to me a couple of years ago and asked me whether I eat coconut oil because my skin is so beautiful....Hmmm.... I used to break out all the time...I hardly ever do anymore, and I have hardly any wrinkles (and I don't get enough sleep).
I am a nutritionist. I have been converted. :)

Anonymous

06/05/2012 - 2:38am

I had symptoms of hypothyroidism. I went to the doctor - she did a TSH and free T4 test which both came back normal. I did some research for things I could take over the counter to help with the symptoms and I came across Coconut Oil. I read and read about the oil working so well that people with thyroid problems were able to come off their meds completely, people were seeing weight come off, helathier skin, nails, hair, better lab results, on and on. I decided to try it.
I am now on day 4. I have lost 3 lbs so far, I have more energy - enough energy to exercise! I sleep better at night (as long as I don't take it past noon). I fall asleep faster and I have no cravings for sweets - THAT is a miracle! I used to crave sweets all day every day. Also, I have been on Weight Watchers for the last 4 months and only lost 6 lbs. I am excited to see what happens now that I am using the Coconut Oil. I will, however, keep up on yearly physicals to make sure I am not "clogging my arteries" as someone suggested.
I started giving it to my dogs yesterday - I am curious to see if it helps with some of their issues.
If you have any quesitons feel free to e-mail me. mmre26@msn.com

Anonymous

06/13/2012 - 1:19pm

If I want to lose weight from using Coconut oil, what types of foods should I be eating? Should I be eating low fat, low carb, no carb or just maintain a low calorie diet? I have been using coconut oil for around 3 years now for all the health benefits it has. I absolutely love it. I use it in place of oil or butter and in all my cooking. But, I have not lost any weight which I want to do . Can you suggest what kind of diet or type of foods to eat to achieve this? Thank you
angela

Anonymous

06/16/2012 - 9:56pm

I've tried and it helped me a lot with my weight loss, did loose 5kg in 2 months, but if you want to use for weight loss just found out it's better if I go on Low-Carb diet :)

Anonymous

06/21/2012 - 9:03am

i eat the raw cocunut i want to see what happens

Anonymous

07/03/2012 - 11:26am

In regards to the person who says they drank coconut milk and gained weight?
First of all ..it is the good quality extra virgin coconut oil...that is so very good for u and will help u lose weight if u use it properly. Not sure what was in your coconut milk? maybe other ingredients? besides coconut milk is not quite the same thing.
It is utilized by your liver burned as energy..not stored as fat.
and yes there are good fats and bad fats.....the fat from olives is a "good fat" the fat from margarine is a bad fat.....
whole foods are healthy for u "fake foods" foods made with hydrogenated oils are horrible and are what cause people to have all kinds of health problems!
good quality coconut oil can replace all other cooking oils including the spread u put on your bread or toast. (marg or butter)
coconut oil and goat's milk are the only two foods that contain good amounts of lauric acid
which is what is found in mother's breast milk........it is what protects us and builds a strong immunity/

Anonymous

07/10/2012 - 11:06am

The writer of this Article really needed to do a little more research
before putting this out for people to read. He is wrong on so many accounts. Maybe the
writer of this article and the people who disagree should go to the pacific Islands
and see for themselves the good it has done for the people there. The proof is in the pudding.
Coconut oil is Gods miracle, just like cannabis is.. Think people!

Anonymous

09/15/2012 - 11:06pm

After reading all of the comments, I appreciate those that understood about fats. Thank you. The comment before mine.. You do know that coconut milk is not the same as coconut oil, right? I am not overweight. I make sure I get good fats in my diet including EVCO Extra virgin coconut oil. I just found a really yummy recipe using coconut oil, raw honey and organic cocoa. I melt them together and drop some into tiny muffin cups, place into freezer.. yummy treats! I also add a touch of vanilla and teeny pinch of sea salt. Great pick me up... and the cocoa is loaded with antioxidants!

Anonymous

09/18/2012 - 7:54pm

Out of curiosity and being a huge milk lover, I've converted to coconut milk (boxed NOT canned) and was wondering if too much of it can cause UNwanted weight gain?????? Due to my love of the wrong foods I am already constantly trying to lose weight, I've heard a lot of good things about coconut water, does anyone knows if my new passion will do me more good than bad in the weight dept????

Anonymous

09/23/2012 - 5:59pm

I started using coconut oil 2 months ago. Early menopause, no hormone replacement,has left my skin looking so much older. I am 55. I have had comments on my face, asking what I am doing as my skin looking so much more healthy. Brown markings are going as well as the wrinkles. A store in our town makes face creams, body moisurizer etc. which I am also using as well as cooking with the oil.

My tissue paper arms are feeling and looking so much healthier. I also have not lost any weight which I was hoping would happen, but have so much more energy and feel so well, so can cope with that.

I had whooping cough last year and was still coughing when I started with the oil(14 months later). The cough is gone (could be a coincidence). I look after children who all have had coughs and colds and so far have been cold free.

I really feel that I am at a good place mentally and physically at the moment and am not ready to stop taking it to test the theory

Anonymous

10/16/2012 - 5:04pm

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