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Should You Drink Coffee With Coconut Oil?

Health + Wellness
Keiko Iwabuchi / Moment / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Millions of people around the world depend on a morning cup of coffee to get their day started.


Coffee is not only a great source of caffeine that provides a convenient boost of energy but also has many beneficial antioxidants and nutrients.

A recent trend is to add coconut oil to coffee to reap the health benefits of this popular fat, too.

However, you may wonder whether this practice is healthy.

This article tells you whether you should drink coffee with coconut oil.

May Help You Stay in Ketosis

Coconut oil has become increasingly popular among people following the high-fat, very-low-carb ketogenic diet.

Adding it to your coffee can help you reach or maintain ketosis, a metabolic state in which your body uses ketones — molecules produced from fat breakdown — as fuel instead of glucose, a type of sugar (1).

Maintaining ketosis on a ketogenic diet has been linked to health benefits like weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and reduced heart disease risk factors (2, 3, 4).

Coconut oil can help you stay in ketosis as it's loaded with fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Compared to other fats, MCTs are rapidly absorbed and immediately delivered to your liver. Here, they're either used as a source of energy or converted into ketone bodies (5).

Interestingly, MCT oils are more easily converted to ketones than long-chain triglycerides, another type of fat found in foods (6).

Research shows that MCTs can help you stay in ketosis — even if you eat slightly more protein and carbs than recommended on a classic ketogenic diet (6).

Coconut oil has 4 types of MCTs, and 50% of its fat comes from the MCT lauric acid (7).

Lauric acid appears to make ketones at a slower but more sustained rate as it's metabolized more steadily than other MCTs. Therefore, adding coconut oil to your coffee is an effective way to help you stay in ketosis (7, 8).

Summary

Coconut oil helps your body make ketones. If you follow a ketogenic diet, adding it to your cup of coffee may help you reach and stay in ketosis.

Health Benefits and Downsides

Adding coconut oil to your coffee is an easy way to reap the health benefits of both.

Here are some ways in which adding coconut oil to your coffee may improve health:

  • May speed up your metabolism. Studies show that MCTs in coconut oil and caffeine in coffee may speed up your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn in a day (9, 10, 11).
  • May improve energy levels. Coffee contains caffeine, which can help you feel less tired. Coconut oil packs MCTs, which are transported straight to your liver and can act as a quick source of energy as well (12, 13).
  • May help keep your bowels regular. Coconut oil MCTs and coffee compounds like caffeine and chlorogenic acids may help stimulate your bowels and keep your digestive system healthy (14, 15).
  • May help raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Several studies have found that coconut oil can raise levels of HDL cholesterol, which is protective against heart disease (16, 17).

However, adding coconut oil to coffee also has its drawbacks.

For starters, many people who add it to their morning coffee use it as a breakfast replacement. Doing so means that you may miss out on many important nutrients that you would get from eating a more balanced breakfast.

While coconut oil has some nutrients, it won't have as many as a nutritious breakfast that contains many different food groups.

What's more, coconut oil is high in calories, providing 121 calories per tablespoon (14 grams). Most people who add it to coffee tend to use 2 tablespoons — an extra 242 calories (18).

If this doesn't sound like much, note that it would take a 155-pound (70-kg) person nearly 50 minutes of walking at a brisk pace (3.5 miles or 5.6 km per hour) to burn that many calories (19).

Additionally, while the combined effect of coconut oil and coffee may slightly boost your metabolism, it's more likely to make you gain weight if you don't account for the added calories.

The calories in a few tablespoons of coconut oil are likely to exceed the calories expended due to the small metabolism increase related to the ingestion of the MCTs and caffeine.

What's more, certain medical conditions like gallbladder issues or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may make it necessary to limit your fat intake (20, 21).

Coconut oil is much more effective when you use it to replace less healthy fats in your diet, such as those from processed foods, rather than on top of the fats you're currently consuming.

Summary

Adding coconut oil to coffee can offer some health benefits. Still, it has potential drawbacks, such as replacing a more nutritious meal and adding too many calories. Plus, certain medical conditions may make it necessary to limit your fat intake.

How Much Coconut Oil Should You Use?

If you want to try coconut oil in your cup of joe, start small by adding 1 tablespoon (14 grams) to hot coffee and stirring it thoroughly to ensure that the oil incorporates well.

Some people prefer to blend the oil with coffee in a blender to make a delicious tropical-style beverage.

Eventually, you can work your way up to 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of coconut oil if you would like to increase your fat intake. This may be most appropriate for those attempting to reach and maintain ketosis.

Avoid adding too much coconut oil too quickly, especially if you follow a low- to moderate-fat diet, as it may cause nausea and laxative-like symptoms.

Besides, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) is plenty to reap the health benefits of this tasty, healthy fat (22, 23).

Summary

Start by adding 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of coconut oil to your hot coffee. You can slowly work your way up to twice as much. Note that adding too much coconut oil too quickly may cause unpleasant side effects.

The Bottom Line

If you're watching your calorie or fat intake for medical or personal reasons, avoid putting coconut oil into your coffee.

Still, if you follow a ketogenic diet or want to include this healthy fat in your diet, then adding it to your coffee can be an easy way to increase your intake.

To avoid unpleasant side effects, start slowly and add no more than 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of coconut oil at first.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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