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Does Coconut Milk Help With Weight Loss?

by
author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
Does Coconut Milk Help With Weight Loss?
To save calories, swap cow's milk for unsweetened coconut milk. Photo Credit DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

The key to losing weight is to reduce the number calories in what you eat. Eliminating 500 calories per day from your typical diet will result in weight loss of about 1 pound per week. Although coconut milk isn't a weight-loss miracle food, replacing regular milk with a coconut-milk beverage may help you cut calories without feeling deprived.

Type to Choose

Grab the wrong type of coconut milk, and you're likely to consume too many calories to lose weight. Choose cartons of coconut milk -- and not cans of coconut milk. Regular canned coconut milk has about 445 calories per cup, as well as 48 grams of fat, so it isn't a weight-loss beverage. Even if you use canned light coconut milk, you will still consume about 144 calories per cup. When choosing cartons of coconut milk, opt for the unsweetened varieties of coconut milk, as the sweetened versions contain a lot more calories.

Calories Compared to Other Milks

A cup of coconut milk beverage from a carton has between 50 and 80 calories and about 5 grams of fat, depending on the brand you choose. This is less than the calories in cow's milk, which has 146 calories and 7.7 grams of fat per cup of whole milk and 90 calories per cup of skim milk. Other milk alternatives, however, can be even lower in calories. Unsweetened almond milk, for example, has between 40 and 60 calories and 3 grams of fat per cup, depending on the brand.

Comparing Coconut Milk and Dairy Milk With Weight Loss

Dairy milk may help increase weight loss while you follow a low-calorie diet, with some of this effect due to dairy milk's high calcium content, according to a study published in "Obesity Research" in April 2004. The study authors note that the protein content in milk may also play a role in the increased weight loss users experience when eating high-dairy diets. Another study, published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" in October 2007, found that people who drank soy milk experienced a similar amount of weight loss to those who drank skim milk. Coconut milk may not have the same effect on weight loss, however, because although it usually contains at least as much calcium as dairy milk and soy milk, it is much lower in protein. It has just 1 gram of protein per cup, compared to 6 grams in soy milk and 8 grams in dairy milk.

Incorporating Coconut Milk Into Your Diet

Don't expect coconut milk to taste like dairy milk. If you find that you don't enjoy the taste of plain coconut milk, use coconut milk instead of dairy milk when cooking or when making smoothies. When drinking a glass of milk, drink skim milk and also use skim milk in your cereal. Another alternative is to mix these two milks and gradually increase the amount of coconut milk as you get used to the taste.

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