Can coconut oil help me lose weight?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

The few small studies that have looked at coconut oil and weight loss suggest that coconut oil may help reduce waist size, but it doesn't lead to significant weight loss or improved body mass index (BMI).

Coconut oil is a tropical oil that's made from the dried fruit (nut) of the coconut palm tree. Proponents say that it contains a healthy type of fatty acid that your body quickly burns for energy. The oil extracted from fresh coconut contains medium chain fatty acids, which aren't stored in adipose tissue.

However, coconut oil is high in calories and saturated fat. One tablespoon contains 117 calories and 13.6 grams of fat. Coconut oil has more saturated fat than lard does.

Although eating coconut oil in moderation isn't likely to harm your health, it's not likely to help you lose weight either. For successful, long-term weight loss, stick to the basics — an overall healthy-eating plan and exercise.

Aug. 14, 2012