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Coconut oil capsules are a very popular substitute for consuming this healthy fat off the spoon or mixed into a beverage or food. Is this approach as beneficial or effective?
The alternative health community has really gotten turned on to coconut oil in recent years. Back in 2011, I wrote about the trend on how to use coconut oil for weight loss. The protocol included how much to take daily based on body weight to achieve the desired health results.
At that time, coconut oil capsules weren’t yet widely available and so taking it off the spoon or blending into a hot beverage was the usual approach if you wanted to consume larger amounts for appetite suppression, weight loss/maintenance or other beneficial uses such as brain health.
Since that time, coconut oil in capsules of various sizes seem to be everywhere. I’ve recently received a number of questions about whether they work as well as straight coconut oil to support weight loss efforts or just to enjoy the many healthy fat benefits of this amazing traditional food.
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Let’s examine both the pros and cons of consuming one of Nature’s healthiest fats in capsule form instead of off the spoon or mixed with a beverage or food.
Benefits of Coconut Oil Capsules
One of the most confusing things about coconut oil is how it switches from solid to liquid depending on the temperature. This alarms some folks into thinking that the oil has somehow gone rancid and shouldn’t be consumed. The truth is that coconut oil is naturally liquid at temperatures over 76°F/ 24°C. Conversely, coconut oil will go from liquid back to solid at temperatures below 76°F/ 24°C.
This switching back and forth from solid to liquid and then back again does not harm coconut oil. In fact, this tropical fat is highly resistant to rancidity perhaps more so than any other fat on the planet. As an example, I keep a 5-gallon bucket of coconut oil in my garage which regularly gets over 100°F/ 28°C during the summer and sometimes below freezing in the winter. It keeps perfectly for the 18 months or so until I use it up.
All of this confusion ends when using coconut oil capsules. Whether the coconut oil is liquid or solid within the capsules is usually not even noticed by the person taking them. In addition, the expiration date on the bottle provides a certain level of assurance that the product is safe. The unfounded concerns about whether the coconut oil is fresh or better to take as a solid or liquid become immaterial.
Another benefit of coconut oil capsules is that they are really convenient and helpful for traveling. Oil of any sort in a jar or bottle seems to have a way of leaking out in hand luggage or your checked suitcase. Stained clothes and a big mess is the risk. No matter how tightly you screw on that lid, some always seems to leak out! Traveling with capsules instead of the bulk liquid eliminates this problem. Another option is to double bag oil-filled containers in heavy-duty ziplock bags.
Perhaps the best use for coconut oil capsules is that they conveniently allow for smaller dosages that can be incrementally increased over time. This is particularly helpful for those who find when starting out that taking coconut oil causes gastric distress or diarrhea. These symptoms tend to occur more often for those who have been following a lowfat diet for a long time or who have gut imbalance.
Coconut oil is highly anti-microbial, with the die-off of pathogens from the sudden adoption of daily coconut oil consumption very possible. A myriad of unpleasant detox symptoms (diarrhea is very common) can occur for a short period of time. Consuming coconut oil or using it on the skin may even cause breakouts in some people. This is because it is quite comedogenic.
If nausea or other gastric distress still occurs even with small doses of coconut oil via capsules, using herbal bitters can help. This is an inexpensive traditional remedy to further support digestion. Using it until the metabolism adjusts and improved gut balance is achieved is a good idea.
The Downside of Coconut Oil Capsules
Coconut oil capsules come in various sizes. The most common size I have seen is 1000 mg (1 gram). A few of these capsules each day works fine if you simply want to add some healthy fat to your diet in small amounts. However, if you want to take larger amounts for weight loss, the coconut oil capsules route doesn’t work so well.
For example, using coconut oil for weight loss involves consuming fairly significant amounts approximately 20 minutes before each meal. Prior to eating is the best time to consume it (virgin or expeller pressed as desired). The effect is a significant reduction in appetite to help you to feel full more quickly. This allows you to be satisfied with smaller portion sizes.
How Much Liquid Coconut Oil to Take
Blending 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a mug with hot water, bone broth, or herbal tea is suggested. Bulletproof coffee is not advised. Stir to melt and then drink. The following guidelines outlined by the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat determine how much to consume before each meal:
- 90-130 lbs, use 1 TBL coconut oil before each meal for a total of 3 TBL per day.
- 131-180 lbs, use 1.5 TBL coconut oil before each meal for a total of 4.5 TBL per day.
- Over 180 lbs, use 2 TBL coconut oil before each meal for a total of 6 TBL per day.
Coconut Oil Capsules Equivalent
Calculating the amount of coconut oil needed for weight loss into the capsules equivalent is staggering. The amounts are summarized below (I used this conversion calculator):
- 90-130 lbs, use 15 coconut oil capsules (1000 mg/1 gram each) before each meal for a total of 45 capsules per day.
- 131-180 lbs, use 22 capsules of coconut oil before each meal for a total of 66 coconut oil capsules per day.
- Over 180 lbs, use 30 capsules of coconut oil before each meal for a total of 90 coconut oil capsules per day.
Coconut Oil Capsules Are Impractical
It’s obvious when you sit down and do the math that using coconut oil capsules for weight loss is impractical. This is due to the huge number of capsules that are required each day. Even a person who weighs 130 pounds or less would take over 3 dozen per day.
It is unrealistic to consider taking 45+ capsules of coconut oil every day for weeks on end while weight loss goals are pursued. It would get rather expensive too! Most of the brands of coconut capsules I checked cost about $10 for 120 capsules. Nearly an entire bottle would be used every other day. Compare this to purchasing a quart of virgin coconut oil for not much more that would last about two weeks. Buying coconut oil in larger amounts would prove even more cost-effective compared with capsules.
Skip the MCT Oil Capsules Too
When considering a quality coconut oil for health or weight loss, don’t be fooled by the clever marketing behind liquid coconut oil. The fitness community calls it MCT oil. This oil is best avoided in all forms including capsules. Why? It is an adulterated product, a factory fat if you will.
Outrageously, the most beneficial fat in coconut oil – lauric acid – is either partially or completely removed to make refined MCT oil. Not surprisingly, the lauric acid is then sold off to the cosmetics industry for a higher price than could be obtained selling whole coconut oil to the public.
Coconut Oil Capsules Seem Like a Great Idea, But …
In summary, while the idea of coconut oil capsules seems like a good one, it is impractical. A huge number of capsules would be necessary to achieve a therapeutic dose.
Practically speaking, coconut oil capsules would only be helpful in two situations. First, when traveling, and second, for gradually building up the dosage to a point where the body’s metabolism and detoxification mechanisms can handle it.
At that point, switching to coconut oil off the spoon or blended into a smoothie or hot beverage would be the most appropriate method for consumption. Remember, therapeutic weight loss dosages of 3-6 tablespoons per day is what is necessary to achieve results.