Can coconut oil help reduce abdominal fat?

Coconut oil

The rumors about the benefits of coconut oil as a dietary supplement have led to trends like stirring coconut-derived oil into coffee, putting coconut oil into smoothies, and subbing out coconut oil for butter and olive oil for cooking. But you may wonder if coconut oil—a high-fat substance itself—can live up to claims of reducing belly fat. Below, we’re discussing the research around coconut oil for fat burning to address some common questions our Inland Empire weight loss patients ask.

The nutritional content of coconut oil

A near-solid at room temperature, coconut oil is composed of almost 100 percent fat. Most of its contents are saturated fat—a single tablespoon of the oil contains 11 grams of saturated fat. For patients watching their cholesterol, it should be noted that coconut oil is known to increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.

Is coconut oil good for weight loss?

While you may have heard time and again that coconut oil can help with belly fat, there has yet to be any concrete evidence that coconut oil consumption alone is enough to either specifically impact abdominal fat or promote weight loss in general, according to physician and educator Michael Greger, MD. 

Dr. Greger interpreted the results of numerous recent studies on coconut oil and weight loss in an informative 2021 blog post: One 2011 study asked 20 men and women to consume two tablespoons of coconut oil a day for a month. The men appeared to lose about an inch around the waist, but since the study was open-label, the participants were aware of what they were ingesting and what was being studied—and there wasn’t a placebo control or a control group. Simply being in a dietary study tends to inspire participants to reduce caloric intake, so without a control group, the results are inconclusive.

In 2015, a study gave men and women a tablespoon of coconut oil a day for three months, and compared their results with that of a control group. The participants who consumed coconut oil lost nearly an inch off their waist compared to the control group, but unfortunately, the control group was not given a placebo. When studies compare taking a certain action to doing nothing, there is still often a placebo effect. So again, the results are inconclusive. Further issues arise when we consider that the researchers suggested that the coconut oil group consume their daily dose with fruit; there is no way to know whether the weight loss was due to the coconut oil or the increase in fruit consumption.

In summary, no studies have shown a verifiable weight loss effect from consuming coconut oil versus a placebo. Further research is needed to draw clear conclusions about coconut oil and weight loss. Eating coconut oil in moderation is fine, especially if you enjoy the taste, but it is not likely to help you lose weight or inches from your waist. For better weight loss results, stick with regular physical activity and a calorie-controlled diet full of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Further research is needed to draw clear conclusions about coconut oil and weight loss.

Coconut oil vs. MCT oil

Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are one of the components of coconut oil. In recent years, MCT oil supplements have grown in popularity, as it is thought that MCT may have some health benefits, like curbing your appetite or providing a boost in energy. Some people use MCT supplements as part of a keto diet. 

However, purified MCT is a different substance from coconut oil, so you should not expect to be able to use coconut oil as a replacement for MCT in your diet. Remember that coconut oil contains high concentrations of fat, and it is easy to eat more than the recommended amount if you consume coconut oil each day.

How much coconut oil should I eat to burn fat?

There are no scientific studies or data to support eating coconut oil in order to burn fat or lose weight. While studies investigating the relationship of coconut oil and body fat have advised participants to consume one to two tablespoons of coconut oil a day, the results on coconut oil’s effect on burning fat were inconclusive for a variety of reasons (mainly resulting from study design, control, and placebo effect inconsistencies). 

There are no scientific studies or data to support eating coconut oil in order to burn fat or lose weight.

Further, there are about 120 calories per tablespoon of coconut oil, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because of its high calorie content, you are unlikely to lose weight if you simply add coconut oil to your diet, rather than reducing your overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity.

Can I target fat in certain parts of the body with the foods I eat? 

No, it does not appear that we can target fat in certain parts of our bodies by eating certain foods. There are some foods, however, that can help with overall weight loss. A well-rounded diet aimed at weight loss contains fruits and vegetables, especially those high in fiber.

But perhaps more importantly, there are certain foods to avoid when trying to lose weight. A study showed that Pacific Islanders who ate coconut-based foods were slimmer than those eating less coconut products. But the important question to ask is, what were those non-coconut eaters eating? Their diets were made up of a high intake of sausage, eggs, and processed foods. Therefore, perhaps it is more important to avoid these fatty foods instead of relying on coconut oil for weight loss. Avoid processed foods, sugars, and salts, such as potato chips, sodas, and alcohol. Another reason to avoid processed food is the sodium content alone. A study found that sodium intake may promote weight gain, so avoid salt when possible.

Shed pounds and live better with Inland Weight Loss

At Surgical Arts of Inland Empire in Rancho Cucamonga, we believe that losing weight is often the first step towards a complete personal transformation. Our patients often remark that their confidence and wellbeing have improved after finally shedding unwanted pounds. To meet with our Inland Empire weight loss surgeons and learn whether weight loss surgery may improve your quality of life, contact us online or call (909) 579-3111 today.

Leave a Comment: