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Coconut Oil for Weight Loss: Can You Count on It?
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Coconut Oil for Weight Loss: Can You Count on It?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 26
26 Views
7 min

Coconut oil is never short of health claims. Many people count on this edible oil for cooking, wound healing, skin, hair, and nail health. But can it aid weight loss? The Health Reporter team covers the truth behind coconut oil and weight loss, the health benefits, how it works, and how to use it.

Coconut oil for weight loss

You might be willing to try anything if you think it might help you lose a few pounds. Unfortunately, many weight loss remedies lack scientific evidence. 

If you’re going to give something a go, it’s essential to explore whether the method is a legitimate weight loss strategy or just another trend.

One suggestion that brings uncertainty is the link between coconut oil and weight loss.

Coconut oil is a plant-based oil that comes from the flesh and milk of coconut fruit. Appearance-wise, it is a solid white fat that remains firm at room temperature and melts at warmer temperatures to become liquid oil. It is made up entirely of fat, 80–90% of which is saturated fat.

In this article, we uncover if consuming coconut oil can help with losing weight.

Coconut Oil for Weight Loss – Is It Legit?

There is not enough evidence to suggest that consuming coconut oil will effectively help you lose weight. However, coconut oil has properties that may benefit weight loss. The claims that this oil is good for weight loss rely heavily on the presence of naturally occurring medium-chain triglycerides, also known as MCT oil.

MCT oil is a unique fat manufactured from coconut and palm that promotes weight and fat loss. MCTs contain four medium-chain fatty acids – caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. As MCT oil is associated with weight loss, coconut oil can potentially deliver similar benefits.

So, while we can’t confirm coconut oil as a magic solution to weight loss, it does boast legitimate health benefits that may encourage it.

How Does Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

The MCTs present in coconut oil may help with weight loss by boosting metabolism, reducing subsequent energy intake, and enhancing feelings of fullness. Your body digests medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) differently from long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). MCTs are absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, quickly reaching the liver and converting to fuel and ketones.

Ketones, or ketone bodies, are an alternative energy source. They are the byproducts of fat metabolism and replace glucose, the fuel source the body uses ordinarily. With the metabolic switch to ketosis, the body can burn stored body fat.

Further research suggests that swapping long-chain triglycerides for medium-chain triglycerides may help you lose body fat. LCTs are found in most fats and other oils, including olive oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.

It’s important to note that coconut and MCT oil are not the same things. Therefore, we cannot rely on the science behind MCT oil to promote coconut oil as a weight loss product.

5 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

While your coconut oil intake will not provide significant results in body weight reduction, coconut oil consumption does have benefits that can aid the weight loss journey. Here are 5 reasons you should consume coconut oil as part of a healthy diet.

#1 Boosts digestion

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that can support the digestive system and improve gut health. Unlike other fats, MCTs are quickly and easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and into the bloodstream due to their shorter length. For this reason, they may be beneficial in managing gastrointestinal disorders.

MCTs are also known to have antifungal properties. And the medium-chain fatty acids in virgin coconut oil are shown to have antimicrobial effects for treating diarrhea.

#2 Strengthens the immune system

Coconut oil has healing properties, acting as a natural antibiotic and supporting immunity. Again, this is down to the medium-chain fatty acids.

Virgin coconut oil, in particular, may be a potential alternative to antibiotics and a modulator of the cellular immune system.

#3 Helps to control weight

Studies suggest that when you use coconut oil as part of a balanced diet, it can support weight management. Dietary fat can increase satiety and regulate appetite, which can help people maintain an adequate calorie intake without overconsuming calories. MCT is the lipid with the most potential to promote satiety.

Virgin coconut oil has been shown to reduce visceral fat and waist circumference in male participants. It has also helped reduce belly fat in women with abdominal obesity. It is important to reduce abdominal fat as it can lead to various health conditions, raising your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

#4 Controls blood sugar

Coconut oil may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. Coconut products, including oil, may alleviate high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A study reveals coconut oil supplementation can positively affect glycemic control, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory effects.

#5 Increases good cholesterol levels

Coconut oil can significantly impact blood lipids due to its high saturated fat content. Consuming coconut oil daily can increase high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL cholesterol), otherwise known as good cholesterol.

However, eating coconut oil is also associated with an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), the bad kind.

High levels of LDL cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the influence this plant oil has on total cholesterol, both good and bad.

Does Rubbing Coconut Oil Help to Lose Weight?

As the oil is a versatile product, you can apply it to hair and skin for its moisturizing properties. The lauric acid content can decrease inflammation, making coconut oil a great addition to a skincare regime, but it doesn’t help to lose weight.

The potential weight loss effects are associated with eating coconut oil. Ingesting it allows the medium-chain fatty acids to influence digestion, immunity, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. You will not enable the same effects from rubbing coconut oil on your body.

How to Take Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

Coconut oil appears to work best when incorporated into a healthy living program. If you want to reduce body fat, dietary changes and regular physical activity are critical.

There are several ways to use coconut oil in your diet. 

In cooking, you can simply switch your usual butter, olive oil, or vegetable oil to coconut oil. Many people enjoy using coconut oil for high-heat cooking, like searing, sautéing, and frying. It also works well with baking recipes, adding a tasty coconut flavor.

Another way to add coconut to your diet is by dropping 1–2 teaspoons into beverages, including coffee, tea, and smoothies. Alternatively, you can safely eat raw coconut oil straight from the jar. 

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, so it is important to moderate your intake to manage cardiovascular risk factors.

FAQs

What is the best time to take coconut oil for weight loss?

You can take coconut oil at any time of day, depending on how you choose to incorporate it into your diet. If you add it to your coffee or tea, it might be best to take coconut oil in the morning. Otherwise, you can use it at meal times in cooking and recipes.

How much coconut oil should I consume a day to lose weight?

Two tablespoons per day are generally considered a beneficial dose. Saturated fat should make up approximately 10% of your daily calories, equating to around 200 calories based on a 2000-calorie diet. One tablespoon has 117 calories, making two tablespoons an adequate amount.

Does coconut oil make you fat?

Coconut oil is high in calories and may contribute to weight gain and body fat. If you want to burn fat, you must monitor your intake. As it is high in saturated fats, it is essential to limit your intake as saturated fat is associated with raised LDL cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors.

What kind of coconut oil is best for weight loss?

Extra virgin coconut oil may be the best variety of coconut oil as it contains more nutrients and less unhealthy fats. Both are high in calories and fat, so you must monitor how much coconut oil you consume daily. As part of a balanced diet, coconut oil can help your weight loss journey.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Coconut oil is an edible oil derived from coconut palm fruit. Coconut oil contains MCTs, including caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid, which the body absorbs easily. Studies suggest that these medium-chain fatty acids may be more beneficial to weight loss than long-chain fatty acids, found in most fats, including olive oil and soybean oil.

Most of the claims link to the weight loss effects of MCTs, including MCT oil. They are associated with improved body composition and increased energy expenditure.

However, coconut and MCT oil are not the same, and further research is required to confirm the influence of coconut oil on losing weight. It’s also vital to remember that coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you are concerned about the impact of coconut oil on your health, speak to your doctor before altering your diet.

Conclusion

More research is necessary to conclude that coconut oil is an effective weight loss remedy, rather than focusing on the evidence surrounding MCT oil. 

When taken in moderation, coconut oil is a healthy fat that can contribute to overall health and a good diet. It’s rich in fatty acids essential for the body’s normal function.Eating too much coconut oil can be harmful, but in the right amounts, coconut oil can raise HDL cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar, and even reduce belly fat. So, if you’re looking for an alternative to oils with long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is one such product.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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