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Is Coconut Oil Healthy?

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Coconut Oil and Weight Loss

Coconut oil is high in  medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are known to increase energy expenditure and may help you burn more body fat. Not only it may help you lose weight, but it's been shown to  reduce the dangerous fat in your abdominal area, also known as visceral fat. Apart from coconut oil, macadamia nuts and other foods rich in healthy fats should be part of a healthy low-carb diet.

Other Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Is Coconut Oil Suitable for the Ketogenic Diet?

Some people may be having trouble entering ketosis — a state in which your body primarily uses fatty acids and ketones for fuel instead of glycogen. Including MCT-rich coconut oil in your diet will help you boost ketones which can be especially important if you follow the keto diet for therapeutic purposes, e.g. to manage epilepsy.

If you exercise and don't want to do carb ups, coconut oil based snacks are a great way to boost energy levels without extra carbs.

MCTs are converted in the liver into ketones that can be used by your body as fuel instead of glycogen. Your body uses them for immediate energy rather than storing them. Research also shows that MCTs are thermogenic and therefore great fat-burners.

Coconut Oil vs MCT Oil

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are extracted from coconut oil. They are saturated fats our body can digest very easily. MCTs behave differently when ingested and are passed directly to the liver to be used as an immediate form of energy. They are also present in butter and palm oil in smaller quantities.

MCTs are used by athletes to improve and enhance performance and are great for fat loss. If you can tolerate pure MCT oil with no stomach discomfort, you can get it in a supplement form.

You can learn more about MCT oil in this post.

Is Coconut Oil Good For Everyone?

There may be cases in which people following a very low-carb ketogenic diet show extremely high cholesterol levels. Although many studies show no correlation between cholesterol and heart disease, some experts claim that very high cholesterol may increase the risk of heart disease. Only because there is no definite proof, it doesn't mean that eating unlimited amount of saturated fat is safe for everyone, especially not for those suffering from  hypercholesterolemia.

Although most people won't experience extremely high levels of cholesterol, there are a few people who do (20-30%). Whether it's down to genetics or other factors is still unclear, especially on a low-carb diet. Franziska Spritzler, a registered dietitian specialised in low-carb diets, has a brilliant article on her website and I recommend you all read it. In case your cholesterol is very high, coconut oil may be one of the foods you will have to limit.

"I want to make it clear that this type of dramatic elevation in LDL-C and LDL-P doesn't occur in most people who adopt a very-low-carb, high-fat diet. I've seen estimates that somewhere between one quarter and one third of low-carbers experience this. I've met and read about several who have. Most people who eat VLCKDs see their cholesterol rise only slightly, not at all, or even decrease, remaining within or near the normal range. I've met plenty of folks like this as well. I've also spoken with people who tell me their LDL cholesterol has always been over 200 and didn't really change after switching to a VLCKD. This is in sharp contrast to what happened to me: going from relatively stable LDL-C between 120s-150s to 221 within a very short period of time."

"It's been pointed out that no studies have been conducted on people following VLCKDs who have very high LDL-C and LDL-P levels, and that's certainly fair to say. However, according to many MDs with expertise and/or personal experience in this area, we really don't know whether CVD risk is lower in low-carbers with cholesterol elevations of this magnitude."

Uses of Coconut Oil in Recipes

Coconut oil has high smoke point and can be used for roasting and baking, especially in Asian inspired recipes. You can also use it in homemade protein bars and fat bombs.

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Martina Slajerova
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Martina Slajerova

I changed the way I ate in 2011, when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. I had no energy, and I found it more and more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s when I decided to quit sugar, grains, and processed foods, and to start following a whole-foods-based ketogenic approach to food.

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Comments (112)

Is it ok to drink diet soda on keto? I drink 8 water per day. Then have one, sometimes 2 diet sodas. I just started keto 3 days ago.
Also, The calculator says 1372 calories a day, but you said atleast 1500 calories per day. (I eat around 1500, but exercise and subtract calories burned.) So which is right. Thank you. 😊

Hi Nancy, I personally don't use any artificial sweeteners and wouldn't recommend them because they often cause cravings (and so do any sweet tasting foods).
When it comes to calories, you have to do what works for you and depends on your body weight, activity level etc. The calculator will help you get an idea that you can aim for. Apart from the three options (small, moderate and large deficit), you can choose your own. I hope this helps!

I have been on the Ideal Protein Phase 1 protocol since Oct and have lost 73 pounds so far doing exactly what they tell me to do.  I read an email about Sunniva Super Coffee that says it's great for ketogenic diets.  Specifically the sugar free line that lists coconut MCL oil in its ingredients.  Ideal Protein says no coconut MCL oil.  I read an article that says medium chain triglycerides are helpful in burning fat.  I'm confused.  Help, please?

There are many diets that will include/exclude any foods but coconut oil is a healthy option for the ketogenic diet. It depends how you use it (see my comment below).

How much coconut oil is a recommended daily amount? thanks

It depends - you may want to start slow with 1 tablespoon and see how that affects you. Some people can't tolerate coconut oil and MCT oil. Use it just like you would other fats rather than on top of our "regular" consumption (do not over-consume fats). More about fats and oils: Complete Guide to Fats & Oils on a Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet

I was wondering what the ketogenic response to the study that came out in the last couple days claiming that coconut oil actually raises levels of LDL cholesterol

Hi Aar, I haven't written a post reacting to the study but there are good posts by Mark Sisson, and also by Examine that explain this in great detail:

Can you please post the citations of the articles/sources you used for claims on the healthiness of coconut oil in this article? I use it, but the large amount of saturated fat is still a bit worrisome and prefer to look at the research. I'm a physician and many of these statements don't quite jibe with physiological responses. Thank you.

Hello, I will revisit this post in the near future. For now, I suggest you have a look at the post I mentioned in the comment above. Thanks!

Hey, just started Keto about a week ago, been on a low carb diet for about 4 months, but not Keto. I have the Great Valley Organic Extra Virgin CocoNut Oil, and on the back it says "adults, up to one tablspoon a day." But in all these Keto daily eating videos, they use one tablespoon for their coffee, lol. Was wondering if it's cool to use a tablespoon for my coffee, and then maybe a bit more to mix in with my chicken later on in the day. Basically more than one tablespoon. Jut checking. Thanks. And also, a good place to track my macros ???

Hi Dylan, yes, unless you are sensitive to coconut oil, you can have more than a tablespoon (too much coconut oil may cause digestive issues but very likely not if you use 1-2 tablespoons a day). If you want to track your macros and have an iOS device, we created an app: (fully featured Android app coming soon)

Extremely interesting as well as it has increased my knowledge of coconut oil in regards to health benefits.
Loved this post.
Thank you

Try no breakfast but cacao fat bomb drink
Lunch 100g veg 100g chicken with avo and oily salad dressing
100g veg 100g steak with salad
Try another fat bomb if you are hungry  

What is the best kind of coconut oil to use? Cold pressed? Refined? Unrefined? Organic? Im new to all this so any help would be awesoms

Hi Leeann, I always use extra virgin coconut oil or virgin coconut oil (both refer to the same thing).

I feel like it is really hard to make that 15g goal every day.  I noticed your answer to another question about number of grams and number of net grams.  Am I measuring grams or net grams and how do I calculate net grams?
This is all new to me.  I have lost 13 pounds in 37 days which feels slow.  Most days I don't make the fat goal and I know this is a problem, but just cannot seem to get enough fat and keep the carbs down.

Hi Susan, to learn about macros, please, check our keto calculator: KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Macro Calculator for the Ketogenic Diet (up to 25 grams of net carbs works for most people)
For more about total vs net carbs: Total Carbs or Net Carbs: What Really Counts? (it's generally better to calculate "net" carbs)

Hi, I really appreciate coconut oil, but its taste is something that I don't like. Can you help me on this matter? What’s the best and tasty flavor you could recommend me? I am using Coco Treasure Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

Hi Catherine, I just use organic virgin coconut oil, I have several favourite brands such as Lucy Bee (in the UK). If you don't like the taste of coconut oil, you can use other fats that are high in MCTs, such as ghee, butter or even MCT oil blends.

hi martina
i am from Iran and read your weblog. Can I eat Coconut instead of Coconut Oil . thank for your respance.

Yes, you can eat coconut but it's not the same as coconut oil that is pure fat. Coconuts contain other nutrients and are a good source of fibre.

I'm trying to figure out what the problem is with using refined coconut oil, can you help explain?
What about something like Nutiva Organic Refined Coconut Oil
From the Amazon description: "Unlike other companies that use chemicals, nutiva refined coconut oil is made though a steam refining process. Absolutely no chemicals are used! The benefit of refined coconut oil is that it has a higher smoke point than virgin coconut oil. You can cook with it at up to 400°f (versus 350°f for virgin coconut oil). It also has a neutral scent and flavor (versus virgin coconut oil which has a distinct coconut smell and flavor). This makes it ideal for recipes where a coconut flavor is not desired. Refined coconut oil and virgin coconut oil have the same benefits of 63 percent medium chain triglycerides and 50 percent lauric acid."

Hi Josh, it depends on the refining process (this one is steam-refined and chemical-free which is fine). I personally like the coconut smell (for desserts) and mostly use ghee for cooking.

How many times a day can I drink a cup of tea with coconut oil in it?
Also, can I add chia seeds & ItWorks greens to the keto diet?

Hi Veronica, that's up to you but I personally wouldn't have more than one cup (it's just fat without micronutrients) - And yes for chia seeds and greens 😊

I cannot tolerate the taste and texture of coconut oil - not even in drinks. Do capsules have the same positive weight loss/ health results?

Hi Rhonda, I'm not familiar with capsules but you can try MCT oil which has no flavour and can be used as a supplement (usually ~ 1 tablespoon in a smoothie, coffee, etc).

Hi I really need help !! The more I read about keto diet the more confused I get !!! I recently started and I'm not losing much weight at all but my ketostix say I'm in ketosis. Some days I feel fine and not bloated ( tho I don't seem as regular in the bathroom as I was before) I'm eating eggs corned beef , cauliflower and greens though I hate them lol . Some sausage for breakfast tho usually have eggs ! I've brought all the coconut flour and stuff like that but I really have no clue what I'm doing ! I wanna have variety and eat pancakes and things I read about from keto guys !! Wen should I eat the coconut oil ? Can I have straight mct oil on a spoon ? Sorry I'm so confused I know once I get my head round all this it will be the best diet for me ! I do feel better not eating bread n rice n pasta but if I don't get results I will fall off n go back to my old ways n I really don't wanna !! Please help

Hi Suga, have you checked your macros? Make sure you eat enough protein and keep an eye on your fat intake. KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Macro Calculator for the Ketogenic Diet
Yes, you can add MCT oil or coconut oil to your smoothies or coffee or just eat it from a spoon. For a start (at least the first month), I would also avoid all "low-carb treats" such as pancakes. You can have them every now and then but too many treats may cause cravings. This might also help: Complete Keto Diet Food List: What to Eat and Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet

I've been using creamed coconut (coconut milk without the water) in my coffee instead of cream. Do you have any idea what the nutrition breakdown would be for one tablespoon of creamed coconut? Thanks! I'm doing your 7 day clean eating challenge with no dairy and artificial sweeteners and I'm feeling great and have broken through a weight loss plateau that I've been stuck at for weeks. I love your website and appreciate your advice! Thank you!

Hi Kat, that's great! It's about 4 grams of net carbs per 100 grams so I'd think that it's less than a gram of net carbs, 4 grams of fat and 40 calories per tablespoon. I'll have to convert the 7-day Keto & Paleo plan to an eBook too just like I did these diet plans: 😊

i need help my macros are 60/35/5 50/45/5 etc am i still keto? I'm on budget with eggs, chicken thighs, drumsticks, collard greens, avocados, oilive oil. coconut oil. oh and you know anything cheap ?

Hi Jay, have you used this tool? KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Macro Calculator for the Ketogenic Diet What matters is grams, not so much percentages. Hope this helps!

Hi Martina - thank you for the great blog, app and resources every bit of which I am finding useful in my keto lifestyle journey. I am about 8 weeks or so in, possibly a little more and still getting to grips with things but have experienced the weight loss I was looking for give or take the odd blip.
It wasn't until reading your blog this morning that despite being 8 weeks in there is lots I didn't know and I haven't in terms of food been very adventurous sticking to the same safe stuff - but thats ok - but now I know about coconut oil [just had my first ever spoonful!] and the benefits, this will change.
I didn't know that keto lifestyles can help thyroid - I have an underactive thyroid which I have extreme trouble managing my levels over the years, I didn't know that ketostix measurements are better to take at night [I was deep purple yesterday - went out to dinner - was good but had over my protein limits so thought that might be the reason my six showed negative...but had taken frusemide last night [prescription] and of course measured my ketones this morning so another reason why the reading may be negative....] and I never knew about chewing gum and for some reason [nerves for a big meeting perhaps!] had more than I usually would ....
So a Huge thank you...
I do have lots of questions but just two for now that perhaps you can help me with... I know at the start you get headaches but 8 weeks or so in I have started getting headaches in the night that wake me and now during the day too. I probably do need to drink more - I mostly drink tea and sparkling water throughout the day but apart from fluid intake could there be another reason why these headaches [real humdingers] have suddenly started to creep in every day?
My second question is that I really struggle with the balance between my macro's - the fat is always too low, the carbs either slightly under or pretty much on target and my protein too high. Im 50 years old, sedentary lifestyle on average I would say, 23% body fat and working to 1022 cals intake, 10% carb, 15% Protein and 75% Fat... but confess this was set up using the MyFitnessPal and using your calculator today apart from a minute difference for the slow weight loss programme that seems about right. L
I probably snack on too many nuts and usually have only one real meal a day - the evening one so as to be sociable with the family - usually consisting of a large bacon, stilton, avocado salad with balsamic/garlic/coriander/olive oil homemade dressing followed by full fat greek yogurt sunflower/pumpkin seeds... yes I know lazy and unadventurous but am going to try fat bombs and some other recipes and to get some stable basic food stuffs in the cupboard - but am always cooking just for me and so find it difficult.... I will be in maintenance mode soon I hope so want to make sure that I get to a point where I know where I am without over thinking everything!
Sorry for war and peace - it is a ramble I know but feel like I am starting all over again..Juli  

Thank you Juli!! I'm glad my blog has been helpful!
When it comes to ketone readings, you can measure your ketone levels any time but you should try to keep it consistent (e.g. don't compare morning readings to evening ones). Also, as you get keto-adapted, your Ketostix will likely show negative - here is why: Ketosis & Measuring Ketones: All You Need To Know
Headaches can be caused by low water intake - stay hydrated! Or by keto-flu, in that case up your electrolytes: sodium, magnesium and potassium: Keto-Flu and Sufficient Intake of Electrolytes
I think that your calories are way too low. I would personally not go under 1200 kcal but ideally keep them at 1500-1600 kcal in your case (just a guess but you might want to check it out here: KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Macro Calculator for the Ketogenic Diet (avoid options that are too low in calories)
Your protein intake looks way too low, no wonder you're often going over - are you sure that's what our calculator suggests too? From 1022 kcal, 15% calories is 153 kcal, that is 38 grams of protein. I bet that if you use KetoDiet Buddy (link above), your protein intake will be higher. MFP uses a database generated by their users and is not reliable enough for a keto diet (macros are often off) - you can double check the food entries with the USDA food database.
It also looks like you're no eating enough vegetables - that's where some of the vital micronutrients are. Animal products are nutritious but won't provide everything. Also, a low-calorie diet like yours will be definitely lacking several micronutrients (magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, etc.)
Here are some meal plans that might help (you may need to adjust the fat/ protein in some of the meals - see tips included):
Hope this helps!

Very nice website, thank you

I just found your website and am learning a lot. Thank you for making this resource available. I'm using the Atkin's diet and just learned about coconut oil while researching Ketogenic diets. My question is: will conversion of body fat into ketones, which is the goal of the Atkins diet, be impaired when MCT from coconut oil are being converted to ketones.  In other words, will the energy from ketones from coconut oil be favored over the ketones created from body fat? Thank you for any guidance. Tom

Hi Tom, adding coconut oil and / or MCT oil to your diet is beneficial for weight loss. When it comes to fat and calories from fat in general, our body will use both for energy. If you eat too much fat (not just coconut oil), your body will use less body fat for energy. Calories do count even on a ketogenic diet but not quite the same way they do on a standard American diet (it's not just about "calories in = calories out" but also which macronutrients they come from).

Thank you for your reply, Martina.

Hi i am 24yrs old 155cm and 48kg. But i have 30% body fat. Skinny upoer body with heavy bottom and thighs. I have been trying lchf diet buti couldnt get the satiety even i consume alot of coconut oil butter and avocados etc. I eat alot of Healthy oil and moderate protein. Will this diet help me lose body fats?

Hi Jane, did you eat enough protein? I've seen people getting hungry on a LCHF diet because they didn't eat enough protein - it's the most sating nutrient. You can check your protein intake here: KetoDiet Buddy - Easy Macro Calculator for the Ketogenic Diet

One should try and use the liquid coconut oil if you have a choice as it's over 90% MCT's whereas the solid contains an undesirable amount of long chain triglycerides (LCT's).

Yes, that's an option too. I like that unlike MCT oil it tastes of coconuts. On the other hand, it depends where you use it because you may need it to solidify if used in desserts.

I have a quick question. Should I use the unrefined coconut oil or refined???.

Hi Bonny, always use the unrefined coconut oil.

Can I eat a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning on empty stomach then go to workout?

Yes you can if that works for you! I actually do the same before I go for a walk in the morning 😊

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