There’s no avoiding it – portion control and exercise are the most steadfast routes to weight loss. However, if there’s something that can help make the process easier, I’m eager to investigate. I lost 100 pounds in my 30s after slowly gaining in the years between graduating university and getting married. I didn’t know how to use coconut oil for weight loss back then but if I did I think it would have helped me.
There’s a huge amount of information online about coconut oil and health in general – some of it contradictory. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Luckily I’ve sifted through it myself and come up with a summary of the benefits of and techniques to use coconut oil for weight loss.
Why Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss?
1. It Increases Your Metabolism
Coconut oil is described as a “thermogenic” food, i.e. when you eat it, your energy expenditure increases – burning more fat. I found this one hard to believe until I read the facts. The effect isn’t huge – one study found that consuming 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day resulted in 120 extra calories burned per day. (source)
2. It Helps You Eat Less
As I mentioned earlier, reducing your food intake is the most reliable way to lose weight. This can be difficult if you find yourself getting hungry on a diet. Coconut oil may help with this. Studies have shown that consuming a small amount of coconut oil makes you feel full so you’re inclined to eat less at meals and avoid snacking.
The effect is quite complex and may be linked to ketone bodies produced by the liver upon eating coconut oil. Ketone bodies curb your appetite and cravings. A small study found that participants ate around 250 calories less per day upon supplementing with coconut oil. (source)
3. Your Body Doesn’t Store It as Fat
Coconut oil has a large proportion of medium chain fatty acids,rather than the longer chain varieties found in other oils. This means that they are converted to energy quickly rather than being stored as fat in your body.
One study overfed rats with either long or medium chain fatty acids. The rats on the medium chain diet experienced 20% less weight gain and more than 20% less body fat gain than the other rats. (source)
4. It Reduces Dangerous Fat Buildup Around Your Middle
Fat around your waist – abdominal fat – is one of the most dangerous signs of cardiac risk. For those of us unlucky enough to store fat in this area, coconut oil could be a good addition to our daily intake.
A study compared patients who supplemented with coconut oil or soybean oil for 12 weeks. The result was in favour of coconut oil – the women in this group had a reduction in waist measurement whereas the soybean oil group did not. (source)
5. It Keeps Your Blood Sugar in Check
The substance in your body which controls your blood sugar is insulin. When we’re trying to lose weight, we want our blood sugar to stay relatively stable. If our levels are constantly dipping and spiking, it leads to low energy, cravings and other unpleasant symptoms.
Most food that we consume triggers insulin release, however, coconut oil does not. It also helps your cells bind with existing insulin, leading to an overall more efficient process. (source)
How to Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss
Depending on the climate where you live, coconut oil may be a solid or a liquid. If it’s a solid – you’ll need to warm it up by letting the jar sit in some hot water before consumption. Overall, you should aim to consume around 1 tablespoon of the oil per day – the best time is 20 minutes before meals in order to curb your appetite. There are quite a few ways to go about this.
My personal favourite is a variant on “bulletproof coffee”. I drink coffee every morning anyway and love the coconut flavour and creaminess the oil adds. Make up a batch of hot coffee and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Then put it in a blender until the colour lightens – meaning the oil has mixed throughout the drink. You can add stevia or sugar for extra sweetness but I don’t.
Another option is to do the same with hot water or herbal tea. If you don’t like hot drinks, you can mix it into smoothies or nut butters. You can also replace your usual cooking oils with coconut oil, e.g. in baking (instead of butter), frying or roasting. (source)
The video shows 10 Ways to Use Coconut Oil
Which Type of Coconut Oil Is Best?
Not all coconut oils are created equal. If you’re going to be consuming it you must make sure to get a high quality variety from a reputable source. Virgin coconut oil is the way to go. It’s made from the fresh coconut meat or milk, unlike refined coconut oil which is chemically treated and processed. (source 1, 2)
Don’t forget that at the end of the day, coconut oil is a fat. Therefore, it contains a lot of calories. This is not a case of the more you eat the better your results will be. In fact, if you consume too much of it you will definitely gain weight. Also, if you are counting calories, you must count the calories from the oil to make sure you are still within your goals. (source)
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat consumption to less than 13 grams a day. This is about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Large consumption of coconut oil may have a negative effect on heart health so I don’t recommend this as a long term habit. If your diet contains other saturated fat sources, you’ll need to cut down on them before adding coconut oil. (source)
I must admit, I’m very impressed with the effects that coconut oil can have on weight loss. However I can’t ignore the saturated fat content and heart health implications. I think if you need a diet boost for a few weeks and your food intake is balanced overall, it can be a great addition. However, after you’ve reached your weight goal, reduce it to occasional intake. (source)