Can You Really Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss?

woman measuring waist with tape measure for weight loss

 

Research on using coconut oil to lose weight is scarce, however there are studies showing that a type of fatty acid found in coconut oils may help boost the metabolism and enhance weight loss.

There’s the common belief that all dietary fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs.

However, food scientists state that certain fats are an essential part of a healthy diet and help support your brain function, digestion, cardiovascular health, and even weight management.

In fact, fats help your body absorb certain fat-soluble minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin D and vitamin A. In other words, without fats, our bodies simply can’t function properly.

So if you want to lose weight, it’s best to do in a balanced and healthy way, and preferably under medical supervision.

Following sensible eating habits and doing daily exercise will probably go a long way towards reaching your ideal body weight.

But if there was a way you could safely and naturally enhance your weight loss efforts, would you want to use it?

Current research shows that fish oils may help weight loss by enhancing fat metabolism and lower triglyceride levels.

Studies show that certain fatty acids found in coconut oil may help increase energy and weight loss.

 

Ingredients Found in Coconut Oil May Enhance Weight Loss

 

Food scientists have long known that coconut oil contains fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s).

This class of fatty acids have been shown to boost the metabolism and increase thermogenesis (heat production for better fat burning), properties that may lead to enhanced weight loss.

Organic coconut oil contains about 50 – 60% MCT’s, primarily one called lauric acid. The other MCT’s are capric acid, caproic acid and capryrlic acid.

While researching for this article, we found that the majority of MCT Oil supplements are made with fractionated coconut oil.

 

black plastic bottle of PVL Essentials MCT Oil

MCT Oil

 

While these MCT oil supplements may be made coconut oil, there are actually different health benefits when you compare MCT Oil vs coconut oil.

In short, scientist claim that the purity of the MCT supplement is the primary difference, since MCT is just a component of coconut oil.

All medium chain triglycerides have different health benefits, but only some MCT’s can help weight loss and support ketosis.

When I was a bodybuilder in my 20’s and 30’s, I learned that MCT oils are frequently used by many professional bodybuilders.

They added the oil to their diets to help boost their energy levels and retain muscle mass when on lower calorie diets in attempts to shed body fat for bodybuilding contests.

close-up of blue analog weight scale

It seems these bodybuilders were onto something…a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found patients lost weight when they included MCT’s in their diet.

In fact, they found patients lost more weight on a diet including MCT’s, compared to a diet with olive oil.

A recent study at McGill School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, tested an MCT oil on men and women who were 25 pounds overweight. The oil consisted of 67% tropical oils, including coconut oil, flax seed oil and olive oil.

Peter Jones, a professor in charge of the study, states that,

“…MCT oil is directed towards the liver for combustion and burned as energy. The oil is not stored in the body as fat and heightens the metabolism, which is a key in maintaining a healthy body weight. There is also some provocative data suggesting that oils rich in MCT reduce appetite.”

Male participants in the above study lost an average of one pound over a month. “After consuming the oil over a year, a man could lose 1 pound per month or 12 pounds per year,” says Jones, noting that female participants experienced heightened metabolic rates.

Other studies have found MCT oils may improve symptoms in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  They believe this improvement was due to a slight shift in the patients’ diets towards a more ketogenic, fat-burning diet.

And scientists claim certain patients with conditions where they are unable to properly digest fats (malabsortpion syndromes) may also benefit from using MCT supplements. 

 

Using MCT Oils Vs Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

 

scooping spoonful of coconut oil from clear plastic jar

 

Some coconut oil marketers may claim that you can use coconut oils to lose weight because it contains medium chain fatty acids (MCT’s).

This statement is true as coconut oils are made up of the following MCT’s:

  1. Lauric Acid (about 50%)
  2. Capric Acid (about 9%)
  3. Caprylic acid (about 6%)
  4. Caproic acid (about 1%)

However, food scientists state that even though lauric acid is classified as an MCT, they often call it a ‘long chain fatty acid’. This is because it’s the most difficult and slowest to digest of all medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil. This makes lauric acid the least useful for ketosis (fat-burning), compared to capric, caprylic and caproic acids.

Unfortunately, the remaining amounts of medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil only make up about 17%. Therefore, it’s more effective to use an MCT oil contain 100% MCT’s, rather than coconut oil for weight loss and energy. This explains why nutritional supplement manufacturers will ‘fractionate’ coconut oils in order to make a pure MCT oil.

 

Conclusions:

It’s a scientific fact that the total amount of weight you can lose will depend on your total daily calorie intakeEat less than what your body needs to function and you will eventually lose some weight.

Using coconut oil for weight loss is not as effective as a pure MCT oil. This is due to the naturally low amounts of actual medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oils.

Depending on your specific needs, both MCT oils and coconut oil do offer a variety of health benefits.

However, if you’re seeking increased energy and enhanced weight loss, studies show that MCT oils outperform coconut oils and can significantly boost the metabolism and enhance ketosis.

 

 

Research References:

Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men. Obesity Research. 2003 Mar;11(3):395-402.

Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders. 2003 Dec;27(12):1565-71.

Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women. Lose weight with coconut oil research. Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Nov;131(11):2853-9.

Overfeeding with medium-chain triglyceride diet results in diminished deposition of fat. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1983 Jan;37(1):1-4.

 

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Author Details
Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.