This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Creating your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the different food options. What about coconut milk, is it good for weight loss?
Coconut is a vegan, cholesterol-free, drink that is becoming more popular. This substitute for regular milk has both benefits and disadvantages when it comes to losing weight.
How is coconut milk made?
The first step in making coconut milk is taking a brown coconut and extracting the white flesh within. After that this white flesh is grated.
The shredded coconut pulp that results from this is then mixed with hot water to extract the fat from the pulp. After a straining process you are left with the coconut milk.
Depending from brand to brand other ingredients are added to the coconut milk.
As you can tell coconut milk is not the same as coconut water.
Micronutrients in coconut milk
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in coconut milk.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of coconut milk provides you with approximately (1):
- Manganese: 46% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Copper: 13% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 10% of the DV
- Selenium: 9% of the DV
- Iron: 9% of the DV
- Magnesium: 9% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 5% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. These numbers are already decent per 100 grams. On top of that 100 grams of a fluid are easily consumed. One glass of coconut milk would already be around 200 grams.
Fiber in coconut milk for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Coconut milk contains around 2.2 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That is a medium amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many whole foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in coconut milk you can reduce the time you spend craving for food.
Protein in coconut milk for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Coconut milk contains about 2.3 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, salmon contains around 25.4 grams per 100 grams (2).
Protein is considered to be the most filling of the 3 macronutrients. Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day which is very good for weight loss. Protein calories also take your body more calories to process than calories from carbs and fats.
The amount of protein in coconut milk is not that noteworthy. The thing is that milk is often seen as a good protein source. It is worth mentioning this is not really the case with coconut milk.
Does coconut milk help you lose weight?
You still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in coconut milk.
Coconut milk contains around 230 calories per 100 grams. 22.6 these calories come from the carbohydrates (5.5 g per 100 grams of which 2.2 g fiber).
Coconut milk is low carb diet approved and even fits in the keto diet for most people.
The amount of calories in coconut milk is rather high, certainly for a liquid. One glass of coconut milk can already add 460 calories to your daily count.
There is an argument to be made that part of these calories come from medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). MCT’s may have some properties that can be beneficial for weight loss.
One experiment found that about 13.7 grams of the 22.4 grams of fat in coconut milk, about 61%, were MCT’s (3).
200 calories of coconut milk is most likely better for weight loss than 200 calories of white sugar. That being said, adding extra coconut on top of your current diet will probably not help you lose weight but it might be a smart replacement for certain other foods.
Even with the relatively weight-loss friendly calorie composition, coconut milk is very high in calories. For that reason you most likely want to avoid coconut milk if you want to lose weight. Coconut will probably have the reverse effect and make you gain weight.
Can you drink coconut milk every day?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
Even if the high amount of calories in coconut fits into your daily diet some people have concerns with drinking coconut milk every day.
These concerns are due to the amount of saturated fat in coconut milk even though a lot of this fat is from medium chain triglycerides. It’s not entirely clear what the long-term health side effects are from consuming that much saturated fat. The effects will also likely vary from individual to individual.
For those reasons you most likely don’t want to drink coconut milk every day. Better safe than sorry.
Does coconut milk help lose belly fat?
Targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. Not by eating more of a specific food or by doing a specific exercise. To lose belly fat you have to lose weight overall.
Coconut milk will most likely not help your weight loss efforts. Consequently, coconut milk will probably not help you lose belly fat.
Coconut milk vs other alternatives for weight loss
You now know that coconut milk is probably not the best choice for weight loss. Do the alternatives have the same effect? Find out how good coconut milk is for weight loss vs almond milk, cow milk, and coconut water.
Coconut milk vs almond milk
A common comparison people wonder about is coconut milk vs almond milk. Looking at calories you already notice a huge difference in favor of almond milk. Coconut milk contains around 230 calories per 100 grams vs the 15 calories per 100 grams of almond milk (4).
Coconut milk contains around 2.2 grams of fiber per 100 grams, almond milk 0 grams.
Overall, almond milk will most likely be a lot better than coconut milk for weight loss.
Coconut milk vs cow milk
Cow milk is still one of the most popular milks. The fat content of milk isn’t always the same so the exact nutritional values vary. However, by looking for example at 3.25% milkfat you get an idea of how coconut milk and cow milk compare.
Cow milk is a lot lower in calories, about 60 calories per 100 grams (5).
100 grams of coconut milk does contain about 2.2 grams of fiber. Even with that in mind, regular cow milk is most likely a lot better for weight loss than coconut milk.
Coconut milk vs coconut water
Even though they both come from coconuts, there is a big difference when it comes to weight loss between coconut milk and coconut water.
Coconut water is a lot lower in calories than coconut milk, 19 calories per 100 grams vs the 230 calories per 100 grams of coconut milk (6).
Coconut water also contains 1.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams. All in all, coconut water is a lot better for weight loss than coconut milk.
Chart of coconut milk vs other alternatives
These comparisons make it even more clear that there are plenty of substitutes for coconut milk that are better when it comes to losing weight.
You do have to keep in mind that the calorie composition of coconut milk may be more beneficial for weight loss. Even then coconut milk is most likely the worst option in this chart for weight loss.
|Values Per 100g||Coconut Milk||Almond Milk||Cow Milk||Coconut Water|
|Calories||230 calories||15 calories||60 calories||19 calories|
|Fiber||2.2 g||0 g||0 g||1.1 g|