Coconut oil is an oil product derived from Cocos nucifera, commonly known as the coconut.
Coconut oil is used frequently in cosmetics as a topically-applied moisturizer. The effects of coconut oil on skin and hair after ingestion have not been studied.
The majority of coconut oil (65%) is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are triglycerides and fatty acids with a carbon length chain of 6 – 12. Studies suggest replacing calories with MCTs without exceeding daily caloric requirements can result in a small, but significant, increase in the rate of fat loss over time. This effect appears to be slightly more powerful in overweight people.
Coconut oil may also temporarily increase metabolic rate and the speed at which fats are broken down to release fatty acids, a process known as lipolysis. This effect occurs when coconut oil is first added to the diet and disappears after two weeks. Coconut oil also creates more ketone bodies than longer chain fatty acids when it is broken down. One study has provided evidence that this mechanism is what causes coconut oil to provide obese people with a muscle preserving effect during caloric restriction. This effect has not been replicated in lean people.
Adding coconut oil to a diet is unlikely to cause noticeable fat loss effects, but it can replace other dietary fatty acids in order to fine-tune a diet plan.