Coconut oil is a unique and ‘friendly’ fat that contains combinations of fatty acids that supports a healthy metabolism. When you hear coconut oil and weight loss in the same sentence, there is bound to be doubts in your mind.
But studies have shown that by eating coconut oil, you can actually lose weight – even reducing fat storage around your abdominal area which is the most dangerous place to carry excess fat.
Hard to believe that saturated fat can do this but there have been studies that prove this below;
Coconut Oil Boosts Metabolism
What makes coconut oil different from other fats is its structure of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (1), on the other hand most other fats are mainly long chain fatty acids.
Medium chain fatty acids are digested much differently than those long chain counterparts. Medium chain fatty acids move through the digestive tract and into the liver where they are used for energy or changed into ketone bodies.
Animal studies have found that medium chain fats are stored less than other types of fats. One study in particular saw rats being overfed with different forms of fats.
The results were that those rats eating medium chain fatty acids had 23% less body fat and gained an overall of 20% less weight than rats on diets of long chain fatty acids (2).
Essentially coconut oil is made up from medium chain fatty acids and these are “good” fats as they digest differently, resulting in a boost to your metabolism.
Coconut Oil Makes You Burn More Calories While Resting
The foods you ingest undergo different digestion processes and so each food has a different effect on our metabolic health. These ‘metabolic pathways’ mean that digesting some foods are more efficient than others – or some foods require more energy to metabolize.
Coconut oil is considered thermogenic. This means that is requires high levels of energy to digest as opposed to other types of fat and therefore actually encourages fat burning (3).
Coconut oil might be high in calories because it is still a fat, but the digestive processes are different from vegetable oils or butter with the same caloric intake.
A study shows that a daily consumption up to 2 tablespoons of medium chain fats like coconut oil resulted in a high energy output of 5% or 120 calories (4).
Basically, when people replace fats with medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil they will burn more calories (5).
Coconut Oil Reduces Appetite
The obesity epidemic is a recent phenomenon spurred on by the introduction of high processed foods. We now have more access than ever to food high in long chain, trans fats. These encourage body fat storage as well as a wide range of health issues.
To lose weight your body must use more calories than the amount you eat. This caloric deficit is the essence of weight loss however you do not need to count exact calories.
Coconut oil can help us eat fewer calories by reducing our appetite.
Due to its medium chain fatty acid construction, coconut oil makes you feel fuller for longer and this helps with reduction calorie intake – due to eating less (6).
This study in particular showed that men who ate coconut oil with breakfast went on to consume significantly less calories at their next meal (7).
Another study used six healthy men and fed them a diet high in medium chain fatty acids and the result was automatically eating less each day (11).
In short, coconut oil helps with weight loss because it both increases fat burning as well as curbing the appetite so you eat less to start with.
Get Rid Of The Harmful Abdominal Fat With Coconut Oil
Abdominal fat is harmful to your health. It is also known as visceral fat as it stores around your vital organs. This fat is a main cause of inflammation, diabetes and heart disease.
Losing abdominal fat has positive effects for your overall health, as well as drastically minimizing risks for chronic disease.
Coconut oil is helpful in reducing appetite and boosting your metabolism which both assist in weight loss.
This study compared the consumption of coconut oil and soybean oil for weight loss and health.
The results were that both groups lost approximately two pounds of weight however the group eating coconut oil saw weight loss from the abdominal area whereas the soybean oil saw an increase.
In summary, both groups lost weight but the distribution of weight loss was different. Coconut oil had a reduction in belly fat while soybean oil saw an increase.
This study focused on obese men who replaced 30 grams of fat with coconut oil for a month. They reduced their waist measurements by 1.1 inches or almost 3cm (13).
So while the actual amount of weight loss from coconut oil is fairly minimal, the reduction of abdominal fat is significant. Therefore, coconut oil works to support a healthy weight loss diet especially if you are struggling with abdominal fat.
Doesn’t Oil Mean Calories?
Coconut oil is a fat, which means it is calorie dense. Coconut oil has 9 calories per gram. The good news is that coconut oil is a healthy fat and we all need to consume fat for health. Coconut oil works to suppress your appetite and therefore means you consume less food overall.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t be adding extra fat into your diet but rather replacing the existing fats like olive oil, butter or vegetable oil with coconut oil.
The health benefits come from consuming about 15-30 grams per day. This equates to 1-2 tablespoons so is not a large volume of oil.