Belly Fat: What’s up with coconut oil?

Coconut oil as been found to reduce abdominal fat and waist circumference. 

A study showed that two groups were given either 30 grams (2 TB) of coconut oil or soybean oil each day over a 4 month period.  The coconut oil group had a decrease in waist circumference,  increase in HDL (good cholesterol), and decrease in LDL/HDL ratio when compared to the soybean oil group. (too much LDL can cause heart disease).  Both groups did loose total weight but the soybean oil group actually had a slight increase in abdominal weight1.  Another study compared two groups eating long chain fats to medium chain fats.  The group that ate the medium chain fats had lower: BMI, waist and hip circumference, subcutaneous and visceral fat, and total body fat.  Blood triglycerides were also lower.2  Another study using virgin coconut oil showed decreased waist circumference only.3

Why does coconut oil decrease abdominal fat?  It has to do with the medium chain fats that make up coconut oil. These fats are transported directly and quickly from the blood to the liver then to your cell’s mitochondria (the cell’s energy producing powerhouse).  Your cells such as those in your muscles are able to burn energy from the medium chain fats very efficiently.   Medium chain fats actually help increase your energy expenditure and the burning of fat or in other words your metabolism is increased.4,5

Subcutaneous fat is just below your skin while visceral fat is located in the abdominal region and between organs.    Too much visceral fat can be a problem leading to increase risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.6 

A little side note:  Coconut oil is a fat and albeit a healthy one, it still is high in calories.  Its best to not add coconut oil to your diet but replace some of your daily fats with it.

Questions to ask your self:  Have you had your waist circumference measured measured lately?  How can you incorporate coconut oil healthily into your daily eating habits?


1.  Assuncao ML, et. al.  Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obestiy. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601.
2. Xue C, et al.  Consumption of medicum and long chain triacylglycerols decreases body fat and blood triglyceride in Chinese hypertriglyceridemic subjects.  Eur J Clin Nutr.  2009.  Jul; 63(7): 879-86.
3. Kai ML, et al.  An open label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing viseral adiposity.  ISRN Pharmacol. 2011.
4.  Papamandjaris AA, et al.  Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications.  Life Sci. 1998. 62(14):1203-15.
5. St-Onge MP and Jones PJ.  Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium chain triglyceride consumption relative to long chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.  Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord.  2003. Dec;27(12):1565-71.
6.  Klein, Samuel, The case for visceral fat: argument for the defense. J Clin Invest. 2004. 113:11