Are you thinking about trying coconut oil for weight loss? Its benefits have been widely promoted in recent years with many claiming that it boosts the metabolism and burns fat. But can consuming oil really help you to lose weight? It may sound counterintuitive but there’s an increasing amount of research looking into it. So, are the coconut oil weight loss claims really true or just a load of hype? In this article, we explore the scientific evidence to assess whether it actually works.
- What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil?
- How Coconut Oil Can Aid Weight Loss and Fat Burning
- How To Use Coconut Oil For Maximal Benefit
When it comes to coconut oil, there appears to be nothing it can’t fix. If you believe the internet claims, then you can use it for almost any ailment! Although its benefits may have been exaggerated in recent years, there’s no denying that it does have some versatile properties. Here are a few of the ways that it can be used to support a healthy body…
- Protects skin from harmful UV rays when applied topically
- Improves dental health when used for oil pulling
- Relieves eczema and other skin irritations
- Fuels the brain to aid cognitive function
- Moisturizes the skin and repairs cracked heels
- Boosts ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels
- Protects hair from damage
- Acts as an insect repellent when combined with essential oils
- May reduce inflammation which is linked with chronic diseases
Coconut oil has a different structure to most other types of fat. It’s categorized as a medium chain triglyceride (MCT for short) which means that it can be digested and utilized by the body very quickly. The medium-chain structure also means that it behaves differently to other types of oil which is why scientists find it so interesting.
Using coconut oil for weight loss does appear to be effective but that doesn’t mean it’s a wonder supplement. Research shows that it can support weight reduction efforts in a number of different ways…
- Boosts metabolism
- Decreases appetite
- Aids abdominal fat loss
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail…
Coconut oil has a really interesting ‘thermogenic’ property. This means that eating it boosts the amount of energy that your body uses (in comparison to other types of fat). One study compared the effects of eating 1-2 tablespoons of MCTs per day with other types of oil. It found that the people who were given MCTs ended up burning an extra 5% energy which equated to around 120 calories each day. This is supported by several other scientific studies which suggests that it may have genuine metabolism-boosting benefits.
Coconut oil also appears to support weight loss by decreasing appetite. This reduces the number of calories that people consume while also making it easier to stick with a healthy eating program. Because they feel less hungry, they don’t experience the same cravings and aren’t constantly having to resist food.
Eating MCTs that are found in coconut oil has been shown to increase fullness and reduce calorie intake. It’s thought that this is because they are broken down, ketone bodies are produced which are known to reduce appetite. Small scale studies have suggested that consuming MCTs reduces the number of calories people eat but larger ones are needed to provide more reliable results.
Aids Abdominal Fat Loss
It stands to reason that if coconut oil boosts metabolism and decreases appetite, then this will lead to weight loss. According to the research, this is, in fact, the case. In one study involving 40 women, half the group consumed coconut oil and the other half were given soybean oil. They were told to eat less and walk more for 4 weeks in order to promote weight loss. At the end of the study, both groups had lost around 2lbs (1kg) but only the coconut oil group had decreased their weight circumference. This suggests that it is effective at targeting belly fat specifically.
Interestingly, the coconut oil group also had healthier levels of cholesterol. However, it’s important to note that the participants cut their calories and became more physically active, so the changes weren’t due to coconut oil alone.
These findings are supported by other studies which show a reduction in waist circumference and belly fat when consuming coconut oil. This has beneficial implications for other areas of health since abdominal fat is associated with diabetes, heart diseases, and higher levels of inflammation. Coconut oil and weight loss do appear to be positively linked based on the current evidence but more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
Now let’s look at how to use coconut oil for weight loss and take advantage of its fat-burning benefits. We’ll start by saying that it’s not a magic solution – the weight reductions shown in the research are all fairly small. But when combined with other proven weight loss strategies like a balanced diet and regular exercise, it could give you an extra nudge in the right direction.
It’s also important to use it in moderation. Let’s not go crazy – calories are still calories and coconut oil is full of them. Like most types of fat, it contains around 9 calories per gram so you can see how just a tablespoon could quickly add up. If you use it too liberally, then you could end up consuming more energy than you can burn off. This will have the opposite effect and lead you to gain weight instead of losing it.
Here are some practical ways to take advantage of coconut oil’s weight loss properties…
Use it for frying – as it has a lower smoking point and doesn’t release toxic compounds when heated (unlike corn and safflower oil).
Whip up some healthy mayonnaise – without the chemicals or preservatives that commercial mayos contain – try this recipe.
Add it to coffee – some people put coconut oil in coffee for weight loss or lemon as it’s a different way to add sweetness and creaminess without milk or sugar.
Make your own sugar-free dark chocolate – use this simple recipe to stave off cravings.
Use it as a tasty salad dressing – combined with balsamic vinegar, herbs, or spices.
Bake healthy flapjacks with it – use it to bind oats, seeds, and dried fruit for a nutritious treat. Check out this delicious recipe.
Make butter-free popcorn – instead of flavoring popcorn with butter, sugar, or caramel, add some coconut oil instead.
Ideally, you should be substituting coconut oil for other types of fat not using it in addition. This will help you to maintain an energy balance instead of increasing your calorie intake. You should also pay attention to the ingredient label when you buy a tub. Some brands add sugar, flavorings, preservatives, or other chemicals that can undermine its health benefits. The best coconut oil for weight loss is one that’s natural and unprocessed.
Coconut Oil & Weight Loss – Summary
Coconut oil has surged in popularity over recent years and been associated with a huge number of health benefits. Although some of these claims are questionable, the coconut oil weight loss evidence appears to be convincing. Research shows that it can boost metabolism, decrease hunger, and increase the amount of belly fat that’s burned. It can be incorporated into a balanced diet by substituting it for other oils or fats. If you’re keen to lose weight, then doing this in combination with regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress-reducing activities is recommended.