Does coconut oil get rid of belly fat?

Belly fat is a common problem that many people face. Excess abdominal fat, also called visceral fat, is linked to a higher risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Because of this, finding ways to get rid of belly fat is a priority for a lot of people trying to improve their health.

Coconut oil has recently become a popular home remedy for losing belly fat. Proponents claim that coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are metabolized differently than other fats and can boost metabolism, reduce appetite, and target stubborn belly fat.

Does the research support coconut oil for belly fat loss?

There is limited evidence that coconut oil alone will directly target and reduce belly fat. However, coconut oil may help in reducing overall body fat when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

Here is what the research says so far on coconut oil and belly fat loss:

  • A 2009 study of 40 women found that supplementing with coconut oil over 12 weeks reduced total waist circumference more than soybean oil. However, this study did not specifically measure belly fat loss.
  • A 2019 review looked at the effects of coconut products on obesity measures. It found that coconut oil supplementation significantly reduced BMI, waist circumference, and body fat percentage compared to control groups.
  • A 2016 study found similar decreases in waist circumference with coconut oil supplementation over a 12 week period in obese men. Belly fat itself was not directly measured.
  • A 2015 study had obese men take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks. The coconut oil group had a significant decrease in overall body fat percentage but no change in waist circumference compared to soybean oil.

While the research is still limited, it does suggest that coconut oil may be effective at reducing overall body fat and waist circumference measurements when taken regularly. However, more targeted studies looking specifically at abdominal fat are needed.

How does coconut oil promote fat loss?

Coconut oil contains a unique composition of fatty acids including medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are digested and metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids from other fats:

  • MCTs are passively absorbed and sent straight to the liver to be used for energy production.
  • MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat compared to other fats.
  • MCTs may increase thermogenesis and fat burning compared to long chain fats.
  • MCTs may suppress appetite and promote feelings of fullness.

Through these mechanisms, replacing other fats with MCTs from coconut oil may promote increased fat burning, reduced fat storage, and appetite control. This can lead to overall reductions in body fat over time.

Tips for using coconut oil to reduce belly fat

Here are some tips on how to incorporate coconut oil to target belly fat loss:

  • Take 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil daily. You can have it straight, add it to smoothies, or use it for cooking.
  • Use coconut oil in cooking instead of other oils like canola, soybean, and vegetable oil.
  • Add coconut oil to your coffee or tea instead of creamer.
  • Make fat bombs with coconut oil for an energy boosting snack.
  • Apply coconut oil directly to your skin to moisturize.

Be sure to start slowly with 1 teaspoon daily and gradually work up to 1-2 tablespoons per day to avoid digestive upset.

Should coconut oil be combined with diet and exercise?

Coconut oil on its own is unlikely to get rid of excess belly fat. To see a significant reduction in belly fat, coconut oil should be used alongside lifestyle changes like:

  • Following a reduced calorie, whole foods diet focusing on lean proteins, fiber, and complex carbs.
  • Doing aerobic and strength training exercises for 30-60 minutes most days of the week.
  • Reducing stress through yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques.
  • Getting enough sleep and avoiding smoking/excess alcohol.

Making these diet and lifestyle changes are crucial for long term belly fat loss. Coconut oil can complement these efforts as a replacement fat source.

Are there risks or precautions with using coconut oil?

Coconut oil is generally well tolerated. However, there are a few precautions to be aware of:

  • Start slowly to avoid digestive upset. Work up to 1-2 tablespoons daily.
  • Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat. Limit your intake to recommended amounts if you have heart health concerns.
  • Coconut oil may increase LDL cholesterol in some individuals. Check with your doctor.
  • Coconut oil has a high calorie content with 120 calories per tablespoon. Do not add large amounts without accounting for this.
  • Make sure you are using pure, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil.

As with any supplement, check with your healthcare provider before adding coconut oil if you have any medical conditions or take medications.

Should other oils also be included in the diet?

Coconut oil shouldn’t completely replace other healthy fats in your diet. For balanced nutrition, it’s ideal to incorporate a variety of oils and fats including:

  • Olive oil – High in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Use for cooking, salad dressings, and raw applications.
  • Avocados – Contain monounsaturated fats to help reduce inflammation.
  • Nuts and seeds – Great sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
  • Fatty fish – Provides anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

Using a combination of these healthy fats along with coconut oil ensures you get diverse nutrients and the full range of fatty acids.

What kinds of coconut oil products promote belly fat loss?

There are many coconut oil products available that can support belly fat loss. Look for:

  • Extra virgin coconut oil – Unrefined and extracted using no heat or chemicals. Has highest concentration of MCTs.
  • MCT oil – A concentrated source of just caprylic and capric fatty acids, the MCTs with most metabolism boosting benefits.
  • Coconut milk/cream – Use for cooking, smoothies, fat bombs, etc. Choose “light” lower fat versions.
  • Coconut butter/manna – Has fiber and protein from coconut meat. Use for spreading.
  • Coconut flour – Gluten free flour option higher in fiber and protein than white flour.

Should other foods be avoided when supplementing with coconut oil?

To get the most belly fat loss results from coconut oil, avoid eating foods that may counteract its effects. Limit intake of:

  • Refined grains like white bread, pasta, cereals
  • Processed snack foods and baked goods with trans or hydrogenated oils
  • Fried foods and fast food
  • Added sugars from sweets, sodas, juices
  • High fat dairy products like whole milk, butter, cheese

Focus on whole, minimally processed foods as close to their natural state as possible. Emphasize healthy proteins, produce, legumes, nuts and quality carbs like whole grains.

What other natural supplements help with belly fat loss?

Some other natural supplements that may complement coconut oil for belly fat loss include:

  • Green tea extract – Boosts metabolism and fat burning. Contains EGCG antioxidant.
  • Glucomannan – A soluble fiber supplement shown to reduce appetite and calorie intake.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Helps improve blood sugar control. Take 1-2 tbsp diluted before meals.
  • Probiotics – Supports healthy gut bacteria linked to reduced belly fat.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – Shown to specifically target abdominal fat stores in some studies.

As always, check with your doctor before starting any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.

Conclusion

Research on coconut oil and belly fat loss is still emerging. While coconut oil isn’t a magic bullet, the studies so far suggest it may be helpful as part of an overall weight loss plan.

Coconut oil contains unique medium chain fats that are metabolized differently and may help reduce overall body fat. However, coconut oil is likely only effective when paired with a calorie controlled diet and regular exercise.

Replacing other less healthy oils with coconut oil provides a simple way to boost belly fat burning. But be sure to make gradual diet changes, get active, and check with a doctor before adding large amounts of any fat to your diet.

Incorporating 2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil per day along with lifestyle modifications can help shift you closer to your belly fat loss goals when done consistently over time.

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