Coconut oil for weight loss (and dozens of other healthy benefits) is all the rage in the natural healing/health community these days.
Reputable sources report that medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil may help people with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and can help cholesterol (See Benefits of Coconut Oil Are Undeniable).
But that article also makes the case that coconut oil reduces appetite, and consequently can help you lose weight.
Others point out that coconut oil actually helps you BURN more fat (See 10 Proven Health Benefits of Coconut Oil). There they point out that a study found that 15-30 grams of MCT (medium chain triglycerides, like in coconut oil) cause your body to burn up to around 120 extra calories per day.
The problem with coconut oil for weight loss
I am a big user of coconut oil. I personally believe in the benefits. But losing weight and burning fat are not among the legitimate benefits.
Let me start with that claim above that coconut oil causes your body to burn more calories. It is estimated that 15-30 grams of coconut oil causes your body to burn up to an additional 120 calories per day.
Well, if you just look at the label of your coconut oil with a calculator in hand you’ll see the problem here. If 15 grams of coconut oil has 120-130 calories (which it does), and if 15-30 grams of coconut oil causes your body to burn an extra 120 calories for that day, then at best you are breaking even calorie-wise.
As for the claim that coconut oil reduces appetite, well, maybe, but by how much? Coconut oil has 120-130 calories per tablespoon (14 g). Does one tablespoon of coconut oil reduce appetite by more than 120-130 calories? Probably not.
The Bottom Line
Your body needs fat to function properly, and many things you probably eat require oil in their preparation. If you replace the oil you currently use with coconut oil, that is probably a health-promoting substitution. But the idea that just adding coconut oil to your diet can help you lose weight just doesn’t add up.
I recommend coconut oil for it’s many health benefits. I won’t elaborate on those benefits here since this site is more about the specific topic of weight loss. But coconut oil IS OIL, and one tablespoon of it has 120-130 calories. Need I say more?
By all means, if you can replace some other fats/oils in your diet with coconut oil and still reach your calorie count target, then use coconut oil. But don’t ADD coconut oil to a diet already over your calorie target in the hopes that it will help you lose weight. It won’t.
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