Can you really lose weight by eating fat? That’s what it looks like with coconut oil, a common, easy-to-find, and inexpensive supplement that activates your body’s ketogenic pathways and increases your metabolism. Here are the best coconut oil supplements you can get your hands on:
1. Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
With over thirteen thousand reviewers on Amazon, and one of the top-selling cooking oils online…is there anything not to like about Viva Naturals?
Their coconut oil is certified organic, meaning there are no chemical contaminants to worry about, and the only ingredient is extra-virgin coconut oil. It’s a product of the Philippines, so you could try to hold that against it, but good luck growing a solid coconut crop domestically. Viva Naturals comes out on top because it checks all the boxes.
2. Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Kirkland Signature is a well-known favorite among supplement enthusiasts who appreciate bulk-packaged, pure, cheap, and effective products, and their coconut oil product fits the bill to a T.
It comes in a huge, utilitarian and simple plastic jar, and it’s certified organic, virgin, and cold pressed. When it comes to cost, Kirkland delivers as always: packaged in an 84-ounce bottle, it’ll satiate even the most aggressive coconut oil users for a long time and for a low price.
3. Island Fresh Superior Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
When it comes down to dollars per pound, Island Fresh Coconut Oil sets a high bar. Like many of the top coconut oil products, Island Fresh uses only virgin cold pressed organic coconuts when manufacturing its product.
It’s definitely packaged for form over function: the large plastic tub makes it easy to scoop or scrape out however much coconut oil you need, and is accident-proof (for the most part, at least). It’s a plain, simple, utilitarian coconut oil that will work equally well for the supplement and for the cosmetic crowd.
4. Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
While Garden of Life makes its name with plant-derived vitamins and supplements, its coconut oil offering is in line with most of the other major brands. Nothing adventurous here; just a low-cost plastic jar of cold pressed coconut oil. It’s certified organic, which means no pesticides or chemicals to be concerned with.
Despite these benefits, it’s not particularly popular, though it’s hard to see why. It’s fairly well-reviewed, and the price is good (though not the best). The company does pride itself on donating a portion of its profits to charity as a B-corp, and the jar is recyclable and BPA-free (as are virtually all plastic jars these days), so those are potential pluses.
5. SheaMoisture 100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
SheaMoisture markets its coconut oil primarily to the cosmetics crowd. Though it doesn’t claim the same virgin cold-press processing that some of its competitors claim, it does have one distinguishing factor: it uses fair trade coconuts in the manufacturing process, which means that the company goes out of its way to ensure that the workers on the other end of the product you use are getting paid a fair wage and are being treated equitably.
This, combined with the 25% recycled content of the jar, might be enough to tip the scales towards SheaMoisture’s coconut oil if you are primarily interested in its cosmetic uses.
6. Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
As a heavyweight in the staple supplements market, it’d be hard to imagine Nature’s Way missing out on a major product category like coconut oil. Its coconut oil is, like many of the other bulk coconut oil products on the market, cold pressed and organic.
As is often the case with this brand, it does pretty much everything right, but doesn’t distinguish itself in any particularly special way. As it’s pretty inexpensive, it’s not a bad choice, though also not the best.
7. Coco & Co The Purest Coconut Oil
By taking one look at the jar (yes, it comes in a fancy glass jar) it’s easy to see the target market of Coco & Co’s coconut oil. This stuff is for hair, skin, and massage.
It’s raw, pure, and high-quality, but you know you’re paying extra for the styling. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–who wants an ugly plastic jug on the shelf in the bathroom? If you care at all about the appearance of your coconut oil (i.e. the bottle it comes in), Coco & Co is a great choice. It looks classy, elegant, and refined–because it is.
8. Majestic Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil
Though coconut oil is a great supplement, it’s quite useful as a cosmetic product too. It works great for keeping your hair soft, your skin smooth, and as a massage lubricant.
These are the uses that Majestic Pure is targeting with its fractionated coconut oil. It comes in a handy pump dispenser bottle. Since pure coconut oil is solid at temperatures below 76 degrees fahrenheit, you might be wondering how it stays liquid.
This is where the fractionated part comes in: by removing the long-chain triglycerides, the fractionation process raises the melting point so that the oil stays liquid at cooler temperatures. So, it’s more useful, but not necessarily “raw” or “pure” like unprocessed coconut oils.
9. Molivera Organics 100% Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil
As far as coconut oils made specifically for cosmetic, topical, hair, and massage use, Molivera Organics is the king. It’s fractionated, meaning it’s been subjected to a distillation process to remove the heavier triglycerides that lower the melting point.
Beyond this, though, it’s 100% pure (though not certified organic) coconut oil. The bottle is an amber UV-resistant pump-top bottle which helps dispense the liquid coconut oil. Remember, because it’s fractionated, it will stay liquid to lower temperatures than an unprocessed coconut oil. This pump top trick wouldn’t work with unfractionated coconut oils.
10. Crisco Organic Coconut Oil
Yes, believe it or not, Crisco–purveyor of bottled trans fat for decades–has jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon and offers a line of coconut oil jars. And yes, just like the top brands, their coconut oil is cold pressed, 100% pure, and even certified organic.
Complain if you will, but Crisco’s coconut oil seems pretty solid. The jar won’t protect against UV light, which may degrade the product if left out for a while, and it’s perfectly understandable to discount Crisco’s coconut oil on principle alone. But all in all, it’s not a bad product.
Part Two: An in-depth look at coconut oil
The thermogenic properties of coconut oil can help you lose weight by revving up your metabolism and targeting belly fat.
While it may seem counterintuitive to add fat to your diet when you’re working on slimming down, coconut oil isn’t just any old fat. Like butter or olive oil, it packs 9 calories a gram, which can add up fast, but some of its benefits arise from its unique molecular structure, which allows the body to process it in a different manner than other fats. (1)
A medium-chain triglyceride acid, coconut oil is shipped straight from the digestive system to the liver. From here, the body can use it for current energy demands or turn it into ketone bodies. Complex processes and changes prepare these ketone bodies for use in providing fuel for the brain, muscles and other energy needs. (2)
Ketones appear to positively affect hormones and nutrients that regulate appetite after weight-loss achieved through ketogenic diets, which remove nearly all carbohydrates from the diet. The levels of these hormones can make all the difference maintaining weight-loss. (3)
Because of their increased bio-availability factor, medium-chain triglycerides can be used to enhance the absorption of oral medications in patients being treated for conditions like steatorrhea (the inability to absorb fat), celiac disease, liver disease, diarrhea, and short bowel syndrome. (4)
The molecular structure of coconut oil activates the body’s fat-burning processes.
Once this switch has been flipped, your body can utilize more stored fat as fuel instead of relying on carbohydrates for energy.
When carbohydrates are the main source of fuel, stored fat remains just that: stored.
If you eat the same amount of olive oil, which is a long-chain fatty acid, it’s more likely to increase body fat percentages. (5)
Stimulating metabolic functions is a key part of how coconut oil helps in achieving and maintaining normal weight.
Metabolic disorders are on the rise, and symptoms include excess belly fat, high cholesterol levels, and elevated blood sugar levels. Put simply, the more of these symptoms are present, the more vulnerable you are to serious health problems, like stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. (6)
A small European study conducted at the University of Geneva measured participants’ energy expenditure over a 24-hour period when medium-chain fatty acids were taken three times daily at 10 grams per meal (30 grams total is about 2 tablespoons). (7)
Subjects experienced an average of 5% increase in energy expenditure, reflected a higher rate of metabolism. The end result was they burned an average of 120 more calories each day.
Eating coconut oil in the morning can also result in less hunger at lunchtime. In another small study, 14 men were isolated from clocks or any other time cues. They ate coconut oil at breakfast and were instructed to request the next meal when they felt hungry.
Those who ingested the largest quantities of medium-chain fatty acids in the morning waited longer before asking for their next meal; when they received it, they consistently consumed fewer calories than the men who ate smaller amounts of medium-chain fatty acids in the morning. (8)
A study of 40 obese women between the ages of 20 and 40 divided participants into two groups. One group supplemented an ounce of coconut oil each day and the others were given the same amount of soybean oil. The women ate a restricted-calorie diet and were asked to walk 50 minutes daily. (9)
Over four weeks, both groups lost an average of 2 pounds; the big difference in results was waist circumference. The coconut oil group lost belly fat, while the soybean oil group had larger waist measurements than when they started the program.
In another trial with 17 women over 27 days, the addition of medium-chain fatty acids to the diet significantly boosted energy expenditure. Conclusions emphasized the potential of this strategy as a long-term deterrent to weight gain, rather than as a weight-loss strategy. (10)
A group of 30 obese men added 30 grams a day of coconut oil to their diets for a month. Although no other changes were made to their diet or exercise programs, waist measurements dropped by an average of just over an inch. (11)
Part of the Plan
The effects of coconut oil as a weight loss supplement are not dramatic; using it in combination with a weight-loss diet is the best bet for making significant positive changes in overall health.
The most promising benefits of adding coconut oil to the diet are in the way it targets visceral fat stored in the abdominal area. Carrying extra pounds around the waist elevates the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (12)
You’ll see a large variety of coconut oils on the shelf now that its healthful properties are more widely recognized. These are superior to the highly processed coconut oils used in snack foods decades ago; the hydrogenated versions of days gone by deserved the bad rap they got, so look for organic virgin coconut oil, which you can find in health food stores, many supermarkets and through various online sources.
If you find you want to include coconut oil in your diet long-term, purchasing a larger quantity will drop the price, and the oil keeps well for 18 to 24 months without refrigeration. (13)
For those who need to lose weight, simply adding coconut oil to your diet isn’t likely to stimulate significant weight-loss and could even result in weight gain if compensations aren’t made in overall dietary fat intake.
If you’re not ready to embark on a weight-loss program, start by substituting coconut oil for olive oil in recipes. Try using it for cooking and baking, or blend it with butter to shift daily fat intake from long-chain fatty acids to medium-chain fatty acids.
This is a good way to begin initiating the metabolic benefits of a healthful medium-chain fatty acid without increasing the amount of fat you eat.
Summary: When you’ve chosen the diet plan you believe will work best for you to achieve your weight loss goal, coconut oil may be an excellent way to support your efforts and help keep weight off long-term through appetite suppression and increased energy expenditure.