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 allergic to eating coconut


05/28/2013 - 10:02pm

The only coconut oil that is loaded with saturated fat is hydrogenated coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has 0 saturated fat. So, advise people to use virgin and stay away from hydrogenated for health benefits... not against it because it has saturated fat.


05/30/2013 - 6:10am

I started using coconut oil as part of an anti-inflammatory diet (healing L4-5 herniated disc with recurring crippling sciatica from the discs and piriformis syndrome; fibro; arthritis in entire back and knees) along with tumeric both capsule am and tsp mixed with 1 T BL coconut oil dinner (only eat 2x day, all I can afford).

Seems to help with the anti-inflammatory though of course not a cure, but have been able to stay off NSAIDS. Was on Mobic for knees, ibuprophen normally 2 or 3x day (up to 600mg depending on pain) and percocet for major pain and migraine. Getting a walk in, not super fast, but am walking and doing stretches/strengthening of abs, back, glutes, outer hips.

Now the bad news, consistently exhausted after eating dinner to the point of nodding off sitting up - something like brown rice, 1 TBL CO, 1 tsp tumeric, salmon or clean soy-based or organic eggs for protein and veggies like broccoli (no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers), diarrhea and I've GAINED 8 lbs mainly abdomen through hips/thighs and it won't budge unless I go off CO. Try that for 24 hours, everything else the same and lose a pound.

No energy boost, no weight loss with CO. Maybe I'm allergic? Or it just doesn't agree with me? Don't have this problem with EVO or sesame oil - that used as a bit of flavoring (about a tsp). So CO may be super for many, but I don't think it's a miracle and I don't think it's for everyone unfortunately.


06/02/2013 - 10:57pm

It really is interesting how behind the times some Dr.s and nutritionists seem to be. The idea that all saturated fats are bad is so 1980's. Progressive informed health practitioners know that good saturated fats (unprocessed) are great and healing for the body. Trans fats (the cheap processed ones) found in much processed food are the dangerous ones that should be avoided.


06/05/2013 - 12:52am

Absolutely agree with the person who made the distinction about the fact that this artical suggest it helps in losing wieght but they dont recomend it because it is a saturated fat!! It is the biochemical make up of cocnut oil that ensures it doesnt just boost your metabolism, it rehydrates your body, is great for your immune system and takes other fats ( that would not normally be easily excreted from your system) with it...on its way through the body ! I am sad that articals that are half researched, or not well thought out are published here. I am two and ahlf weeks post operation after major surgury, my hair and skin look amazing, I have no aches and pains, came of painkillers far earlier than others having the same surgury...about ten days earlier...Coconut oil - three table spoons a day for optimum health has played an enormous part...I am losing wieght and feeling energised. I have cut sugar, carbs, wheat and caffiene and try to eat as little processed food as possable....I like the idea that anything white is not good for you food wise ( mind you ...garlic and onions are a must ! ) happy chimping - PS Biona extra virgin organic coconut oil I could highly reccomend !

PS Using it on skin and hair - never put anything on your body you wouldnt b happy to eat !


06/10/2013 - 10:58am

I suppose if you're going to use oil, then coconut is a good option. However, I believe it is still high in saturated fat.

Alice, have you tried the Fat Loss Factor by Dr Charles Livingston? He shares an awesome tip on how to lose fat whilst eating foods you enjoy, he's brilliant.

Here's a link to his guide:


06/28/2013 - 4:23pm

Got virgin coconut oil at walmart. Vet said to give to my dog for skin problems... it works well and I'm taking
it too. helps with stomach too. Must be virgin


06/29/2013 - 12:52pm

I am always reluctant to post about diet ideas because it is really a more complicated process than to say something works or doesn't work but that said I had to chime in on the coconut oil. Like another poster , I had also lost some weight through walking and diet changes over the last few years but then leveled off. I read about the Butter in the coffee thing which was surprisingly good, but then replaced it with coconut oil. I have lost 11.5 lbs in two and a half weeks. I have it in morning coffee in the place of cream (which had some fat and calories anyway) and decreased sugar use from 3-4 teaspoons to one teaspoon (also saved some calories there). I feel an incredible energy boost after the coffee, and I also feel less hungry. I try to make sure I eat something by 2pm to keep my metabolism going but I am not really starving by that time. I have totally replaced the urge for coffee with cream and sugar or sugary coffee drinks from starbucks (in cans) with this system and I am feeling so much better. While the fat and calories might seem like a lot in the Coconut oil think about this, no cream , less sugar for me, less eating overall, no binge snacking and no glycemic issues so now highs and lows with sugar etc. I have been gradually making changes over the last few years and it is not a simple process. I now eat as much as possible from local farm markets and avoid the grocery store nearly completely. I drink mainly water, my coffee with Coconut oil in it and occasional diet drinks but not too often. I walk about 2 miles a day 5 times a week (for 2 years now), I go swimming etc. I wish everyone luck with their efforts. I do think coconut oil can play a valuable role in your plan.


07/07/2013 - 8:01pm

Virgin, unrefined coconut oil actually has 12 grams of saturated fat, not 0.


07/17/2013 - 5:40pm

There is an amazing book "The Coconut Oil Miracle" by Bruce fife. Everyone should read this book, it tells you everything that you would ever want to know about Coconut Oil and dispels all of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding the coconut oil/ palm oil industry and its used.


07/19/2013 - 11:58am

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