Coconut Oil and Fat Burning

Although coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids, you may not have to worry about increased chronic-disease risks when you consume it, according to a study published in 2008 in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” Ingesting coconut oil as part of a reduced-calorie meal plan along with regular exercise may also help you shed pounds -- and body fat. However, supplementing your diet with coconut oil isn’t a guarantee you’ll burn fat.

Effects on Abdominal Fat

Consuming coconut oil may reduce abdominal fat, according to a study published in 2009 in the journal “Lipids.” In this study, study subjects who consumed 30 milliliters, or about 2 tablespoons, of coconut oil daily for a period of 12 weeks had greater reductions in abdominal fat and waist circumference than those who ingested 30 millimeters of soy bean oil daily. However, the study participants were also instructed to reduce their total caloric intake and walk for a period of 50 minutes daily.

Effects on Total Body Fat

Ingesting coconut oil may also help you reduce total body fat when used as part of a reduced-calorie weight-loss diet. A study published in 2008 in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that study subjects who consumed medium-chain triglycerols -- which are present in coconut oil -- lost more abdominal fat, intraabdominal fat and total body fat than study subjects who ingested olive oil instead.

Weight-Loss Considerations

A study published in 2008 in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reports that not only did ingesting coconut oil help reduce body fat when compared with olive oil, it also led to greater weight loss. Researchers who conducted this study report that consuming medium-chain triglycerols, or MCTs, leads to an increased caloric expenditure, compared with consuming other types of triglycerols, and that MCTs -- found in coconut oil -- are useful for healthy weight management.

Potential Concerns

While coconut oil may be beneficial for weight and fat loss when used as part of a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise regimen, ingesting too much coconut oil can hinder weight and fat loss. Coconut oil is high in calories, containing 117 calories in just 3 teaspoons. If your overall calorie intake is more than the number of calories you burn off daily, you’ll likely gain weight -- and body fat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend getting 4 teaspoons of oils daily when eating 1,200 calories, 5 teaspoons per day when consuming 1,600 calories and 6 teaspoons of oil each day when following a 2,000-calorie meal plan.