There has been a lot of talk about the benefits of coconut oil for weight loss. Should you be suspicious about these promises, or should you run for your spoon? We’ll take a few moments here to separate fact from fiction.

Coconut oilBenefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil provides lauric acid, a healthy, saturated fat, which the body can burn quickly for energy. Lauric acid is also thought to be less damaging to the heart than other fats, such as those we get from meat and dairy products. You may also have a better chance of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels with coconut oil versus other types of fats.

Coconut oil also contains antioxidants. Antioxidants are helpful for moderating the damaging effects on the body of free radicals. The oil has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties. That’s a boon for keeping harmful pathogens like fungi and bacteria in check.

Because it is a fat, coconut oil also contributes to feelings of satiety. That means you may eat less overall. It is easy to digest and may even support healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system.

bowl of coconut oilThe not so good news

According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., in her article, Can Coconut Oil Help me Lose Weight? There have been small studies that suggest coconut oil may offer the benefit of smaller waist size. It does not, however, contribute to significant weight loss or reduced body mass index.

The bottom line is that although coconut oil ranks high among fats – it is still fat and must be consumed in moderation. Just one tablespoon has nearly 14 grams of fat and almost 120 calories. Coconut oil has even more fat than butter does!

Too, not all coconut oils are created equal. Read the label carefully and avoid refined products that are of poor quality. Instead choose virgin or expeller pressed oil for the most health benefits.

If you do choose to include coconut oil in your diet to enjoy the benefits it offers, remember to cut back elsewhere. True, sustainable weight loss is not achieved with fads or tricks. Instead, focus on regular exercise, more movement throughout the whole day and nutrition that supports good energy and health without busting your daily calorie budget. Take care to avoid anything the latest hype identifies as a magic bullet. Coconut oil does offer some benefits but it is not a weight loss elixir.