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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 started cooking breakfast with extra virgin coconut oil 3 weeks ago, i don't feel i ate less of anything, and effortlessly lost about 7 lbs. I felt more alert and more energetic. I recently read you shouldn't heat it to get the full benefits.

Anonymous

02/05/2013 - 12:53am

I have been taking coconut oil from tropical traditions it is so so good. I put It on toast , pancakes in my protein drinks and more. You need to get an unrefined coconut oil.

Anonymous

02/09/2013 - 11:05pm

I've been reading The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey CDC and following her plan. She requires two servings of coconut oil a day (and has a big section on the chemistry of why) but you don't have to eat the oil...you can have coconut milk, cream, or dried unsweetened flakes. I mix thick coconut milk with cocoa powder, and stevia for a yummy treat.Sometimes I eat some flakes too.

Anonymous

02/14/2013 - 12:41pm

Some truly fantastic info , Glad I found this.

Anonymous

02/18/2013 - 4:58pm

I mix one teaspoon of coconut oil in mashed potatoes, my portion of stew, curry, etc. I have two teaspoon a day. It has barely any taste and the other foods cover what there is. I have only been using it for a week so too soon to give any verdict. I hope it does work though because it is very expensive!

Anonymous

02/21/2013 - 2:40pm

Prior to WW2 coconut oil and lard was the prime cooking oils in the USA.

When soybean oil was marketed, coconut oil soon became bad stuff.

Those who maketed soybean oil demostarted to the public that coconut oil was "lard" but they never told the public that coconut oi becomes a solid when the temperature drops below 70 degrees F!

Google benefits of coconut oil and find out what is now being said about coconut oil!

Anonymous

02/28/2013 - 1:08pm

I'm 79, male, don't smoke or drink but take 2 tablespoons of coconut daily and have the skin of a 40 year old!

Why? Maybe because I don't smoke or drink OR maybe because of the coconut oil!

Also massage my face and scalp with coconut oil every 3 days so maybe that's why I'm always being told I have nice skin.

Anonymous

02/28/2013 - 1:23pm

it makes me feel good!
didn't help me lose weight yet! if anything im still the same since i started using it in terms of weight
but i do feel FANTASTIC and thats very important.
i use it on my hair too, Great Stuff.
1 tsp is enough in my opinion but im a tiny person so.. i dont need much lol

Anonymous

03/17/2013 - 10:27am

I started with coconut oil a few weeks ago and I can't tell much difference in the way I feel as of yet. However, I eat it on my toast as a substitute for butter or margarine. It tastes really good and melts quickly on the toast. It is fairly expensive so I haven't used it one my hair or skin yet but I think I might give it a try. I have a liver spot on my cheek that I would like to fade. Maybe this will work on it. It is worth a shot!

Anonymous

03/27/2013 - 9:43pm

I'm from India and we use coconut oil in our hair. Coconut does have its benefits.

Anonymous

03/28/2013 - 11:02pm

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