How Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight
Coconut oil is the world’s most weight loss friendly fat.
It contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful effects on metabolism.
Several studies show that just by adding coconut oil to your diet, you can lose fat, especially the “dangerous” fat in the abdominal cavity.
Let me explain how that works…
Coconut Oil is High in Medium Chain Triglycerides, Fatty Acids That Boost Metabolism
Coconut oil is vastly different from most other fats in the diet.
Whereas most foods contain predominantly long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil consists almost entirely of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (1).
The thing with these medium chain fatty acids, is that they are metabolized differently than the longer chain fats.
They are sent straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are either used for energy right away or turned into ketone bodies.
These fats are often used by epileptic patients on a ketogenic diet, in order to increase ketone levels while allowing for a bit more carbs in the diet (2).
There is also some evidence from animal studies that medium chain fats are stored less efficiently than other fats.
In one study, rats were overfed with either long chain or medium chain fats. The rats fed the medium chain fats gained 20% less weight and 23% less body fat (3).
Bottom Line: Coconut oil is high in Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are fatty acids that are metabolized differently than most other fats, leading to beneficial effects on metabolism.
How Coconut Oil Can Boost Metabolism, Making You Burn More Calories at Rest
A calorie is not a calorie.
Different foods and macronutrients go through different metabolic pathways.
The different types of foods we eat can have a huge effect on our hormones and metabolic health.
Some metabolic pathways are more efficient than others and some foods require more energy to digest and metabolize.
One important property of coconut oil is that it is “thermogenic” – eating it tends to increase energy expenditure (fat burning) compared to the same amount of calories from other fats (4).
In one study, 15-30 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) of medium chain fats per day increased energy expenditure by 5%, totaling about 120 calories per day (5).
Several other studies confirm these findings. When humans replace the fats they are eating with MCT fats, they burn more calories (6).
Therefore, a calorie from coconut oil is NOT the same as a calorie from olive oil orbutter (although these fats are perfectly healthy too).
Bottom Line: Many studies show that medium chain triglycerides can boost metabolism, in one study increasing energy expenditure by 120 calories per day.
Coconut Oil Can Reduce Appetite, Making You Eat Less Without Trying
“Weight loss is all about calories in, calories out.”
Even though I think this is a drastic oversimplification, it is mostly true.
If your body expends more energy (calories) than it takes in, then you will lose fat.
But even though it is true that we need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, it doesn’t mean that calories are something that we need to count or be consciously aware of.
Humans are very capable of remaining lean and healthy in their natural environment. The obesity epidemic didn’t start until 1980 and we didn’t even know what a calorie was back in the day.
Anything that reduces our appetite can make us take in fewer calories without having to think about it. It appears that coconut oil has this effect.
Many studies on medium chain fatty acids show that, compared to the same amount of calories from other fats, they increase feelings of fullness and lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake (7).
This may be related to the way these fats are metabolized. It is well known that ketone bodies (which the liver produces when you eat coconut oil) can have a powerful appetite reducing effect (8, 9, 10).
Whatever the mechanism is, it works. In one study of 6 healthy men, eating a high amount of MCTs caused them to automatically eat 256 fewer calories per day (11).
In another study of 14 healthy men, those who ate MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch (12).
So… coconut oil boosts fat burning (increases “calories out”) and it also reduces the appetite (reduces “calories in”).
Bottom Line: Many studies show that people who add Medium Chain Fatty Acids to their diet have reduced appetite and start eating fewer calories automatically.
Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Fat, Especially The “Dangerous” Abdominal Fat
If coconut oil can boost metabolism and reduce appetite, then it should help you lose fat over the long term.
In fact, there are several studies that support this.
In one study, 40 women were given either 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of either coconut oil or soybean oil for 28 days.They were instructed to eat fewer calories and walk every day. These were the results (13):
- Both groups lost weight (about 2 pounds).
- Only the coconut oil group had decreased waist circumference (belly fat) while the soybean oil actually had a mild increase in belly fat.
- The coconut oil group had increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels, while the soybean oil had reduced HDL and increased LDL.
In this study, coconut oil did not cause overall weight loss compared to soybean oil, but it did lead to a significant reduction in belly fat.
In another study in obese men, 30 grams of coconut oil for 4 weeks reduced waist circumference by 2.86 cm, or 1.1 inches (14).
There are also other studies showing that medium chain fats lead to weight loss, reduced waist circumference and various improvements in metabolic health (15, 16).
The weight loss effects of coconut oil appear to be fairly mild, except for the abdominal fat.
Abdominal fat, also called visceral fat or belly fat, is the fat that tends to lodge around your organs and cause inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.
Any reduction in abdominal fat is likely to have very positive effects on your metabolic health, longevity and drastically reduce your risk of chronic disease.
These results are far from being dramatic, but consider that all these people are doing is adding coconut oil to their diet.
Combined with other proven weight loss strategies (like cutting carbs and increasingprotein), all of this can add up to a significant amount.
Therefore, coconut oil can support a healthy, real-food based weight loss diet, but don’t expect it to work any miracles on its own.
If you’re interested in even more research on coconut oil, then you can find a very impressive collection of studies here.
Bottom Line: Eating coconut is particularly effective at reducing the harmful belly fat in the abdominal cavity, which is strongly associated with disease.
What About The Calories?
It’s important to keep in mind that coconut oil is fat.
Fat has 9 calories per gram… and coconut oil is no exception.
Therefore, if you are eating a fixed amount of calories and then add coconut oil on top of that, then it’s likely to make you gain weight, not lose.
However, most people aren’t counting calories and eating a fixed amount per day.
In these cases, adding coconut oil to your diet will reduce your appetite and probably make you eat less of other foods instead.
So this really is not about adding fat calories to your diet, it is about replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil.
It’s also important not to go overboard and think you need to add tons of coconut oil to your diet to reap the benefits. The studies above used about 30 grams per day, which equals 2 tablespoons.
Even if coconut oil is good for cooking and has some powerful health benefits, your diet should still consist primarily of whole, nutritious foods like plants and animals.
You can read more about the other amazing health benefits of coconut oil here.
Are you looking for a place to get high quality coconut oil? I personally use, love and can vouch for THIS one!
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Article republished with permission from Authority Nutrition here.
Can you clarify the paragraph following your references 14, 15 which says:
“The weight loss effects of coconut oil don’t appear to be fairly mild, except for the abdominal fat.”
I’m not sure if “don’t” should be there. It appears to me that you are actually saying the opposite. Right? Wrong?
You are right, Moira! Thanks for pointing it out – I will fix it 🙂
Can you direct me to where I can get ideas on how to incorporate coconut oil in my diet. I don’t cook much with oil as it is.
there’s a nifty little tool called “Google”
I put a scoop in my coffee along with 2 knows of grass fed butter. I throw in a scoop of whey. First blend or beat the fats into the coffee then add the whey. I am looking for whey without the deadly palm oil or trans fat.
I have read these sorts of things before, but my question is this: does it matter if the oil is cooked or not? If I cook with a tablespoon of oil, does that count as part of the 30g? Or would be better to just have it on my vegetables? And does olive oil have MCTs?
I’m eating two table spoonful of organic coconut flakes per day. Am I doing it right?
Great info! Are coconut oil capsules just as effective? I think I would have a really hard time including 2 tablespoons into my diet daily. Thanks!
Its really easy to add coconut oil to your diet. Stir it in your oatmeal in the morning. Add it to your steamed veggies in place of butter. I like it best on popcorn because it keeps it crispy vs butter which makes it soggy. You can actually you can use coconut oil in most recipes as it has a smoke point of 350 degrees. You can use it to replace oils and butter at a 1:1 ratio. If you want to make something flaky like pastry, use it at room temperature replacing one part shortening with 3/4 part coconut oil. Have fun experimenting 🙂
Believe it or not, consuming 3 Tbsp. to 3 1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil in your diet (the amount recommended in the article I’m going to share) is so much easier than taking capsules. In order to equal the amount of coconut oil recommended per day (according to the following article) in pill form, you would have to consume 49 (yes, 49) capsules to equal 3 Tbsp. – 3 1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil throughout the day.
I would rather add the oil to my salads, food, baked goods, smoothies, etc… than to take up to 49 capsules/day.
The largest capsules found, equal 1 gram (1,000 mg.)of oil. However, 1 Tbsp. of coconut oil contains 14 grams! So, we would have to take 14 capsules as compared to 1 Tbsp. of the oil itself.
This article is a very informative read. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
In my experience the weight loss with coconut works for some and doen’t for others. Guess in the end we all have a different digestive physiology. 🙂
An easy way to get coconut oil in your diet is Carob Candy. Equal amounts of carob powder and coconut oil, you can add walnuts
Can u buy coconut oil in liquid form? And should u melt it first before u add to my shakes? Is it 2Tbl. 1in each shake?
Hi Pam! Coconut oil becomes liquid when it is heated over 76 degrees. It will harden at anything colder than that. I typically add 1 tablespoon per shake. You can either melt it or put it in hard. If you have a good blender – it will blend it in even when it’s hard.
I LOVE coconut oil in my coffee!! On my skin…homemade bath fizzies…all of my baking…in my soaked granola!!! Yumshkin!
what do you mean? you just put it in your coffee? how much? thank you!
I have turned my life around by eating PALEO food and use alot of coconut oil, coconut flour and coconut milk… and after only 16 days I’ve lost almost a Stone in weight which I am delighted and feel 100% healthier in so many ways, no more fatigue, sleepless nights and no sugar, dairy, wheat, legumes, caffeine, alcahol, just healthy meat, veg, nuts, seeds and fruit, I’ve been detox (for just over 2 wks) from all the crap I’ve eaten over the years and can’t stress enough how much changing what I eat has had a big impact for the best.. everyone should introduce COCONUT OIL into their everyday meals….
your website is really interesting and so many great facts which I will share and enjoy the new change in my life, thank you…. 🙂
Linda, that is so great to hear!! I love that! Thanks for being a reader, too 🙂
Could you clarify what a ” Stone in weight ” is ? 🙂 Thanks !
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the European unit of weight. For Asian uses of ‘stone’, see Picul.
German medieval scale for weighting bales of wool. The unit of measure was the local stone.
The stone (abbreviation st) is a unit of measure equal to 14 pounds avoirdupois (about 6.35 kg[nb 1]) used in Great Britain and Ireland for measuring human body weight.
I’ve heard people using the coconut oil for weight lose ,but I’m not sure how to use it, they say don’t shollow it, so how do u use it for weight loss
would like to know how to take the coconut oil for dieting,I’ve heard u don’t shallow it,so how do u use it for dieting?
Im not a huge fan of “flavor’s” in my coffee or anything to drink. Does this oil have a taste to it?
Hi KM, unrefined coconut oil has a very light coconut flavor. I find it to be very pleasant. If you prefer a tasteless coconut oil, look for refined coconut oil. It is completely tasteless and odorless. Here is a good brand that many grocery stores carry: http://amzn.to/1iR0oMI
I was on a coconut oil and dairy free regimen about a year ago. I did it because I was having horrible skin issues and mood issues, so I had done a lot of research and besides, doctors were no help. I started 1tbsp per day then increased to two. After two weeks, I noticed a HUGE difference. I was warmer (usually always cold), skin improved, mood was better, I was having better BM (natural laxative (gentle), and felt 100% noticeably better in general. Wonderful stuff 🙂
We didn’t know what a calorie was in 1980. Are you serious?
where do you buy or get the coconut oil thank you
Hi Sheri! Coconut oil has gained in popularity the last few years, which is great news because it’s really easy to find these days. Most grocery stores are carrying it now (either in the organic aisles or in the oil aisles near the olive oil). Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sams Club, etc even carries it now, which is awesome. If you live in the boonies like I do, you may want to buy it online like me. Here is the brand I love and use >> http://amzn.to/1CVU25R (You can get this same brand for much cheaper at Costco if you have one close to you!)
I found this at my local Wal-Mart-http://store.carringtonfarms.com/coconut-cooking-oil-16-fl-oz/
I have been using it in my coffee, has no taste and works just as well as traditional coconut oil mentioned in previous posts.
Loved this article on coconut oil. I’m going to the best health food store and buying some in the morning. It’s also good for your hair and nails. You name it , it fixes it. I believe it. I hope. I’ll keep you posted in my belly fat. I don’t have much but 4 pounds would be great!
Hi there. Thanks for all the great information. There was a comment that said you should not simply ingest the coconut oil alone. Can you tell me if this is correct or is it ok to just ingest the coconut oil by itself.
Hi Sarabeth, It’s ok to ingest by itself. I do all the time 🙂
If you ingest coconut oil by its self , how much a day do you consume?
1 tablespoon a day!
Thanks Kelly for sharing this article. I switched to coconut oil for my cooking over 2 months now and I’m loving it. I use extra virgin coconut oil and I love its smell. It’s an awesome ingredient for cooking and making bullet proof coffee. 🙂