Is coconut milk fattening or good for weight loss?
Coconut milk is prepared by soaking grated coconut flesh in water and then filtering the mixture through cheesecloth. The more the mixture is filtered, the thinner it becomes. Coconut milk is different from coconut water, with the latter being the water-resembling liquid that is naturally found in coconuts.
Coconut milk is very versatile and can be enjoyed as an alternative to regular milk or used as an ingredient when preparing a variety of recipes, such as soups, curries and desserts.
If you are watching your waistline, you may be wondering whether coconut milk will cause weight gain. The short answer is that it depends on the amount that you consume. Coconut milk is quite high in calories, but as long as you consume it in reasonable quantities, it shouldn’t cause weight gain.
A little bit about weight management and how coconut milk fits in
Even though weight management can be a complex topic, at its core, it can be summed up by a short and simple equation: calories in – calories out. This equation determines the balance of energy in your body.
‘Calories in’ represents the energy that you obtain from the food that you eat. All foods have calories because they contain one or more of the 3 macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram whereas fat has 9, which is why fat rich foods tend to be much higher in calories.
‘Calories out’ represents the energy you burn throughout the day; the more active you are, the more calories you burn. Walking to work, climbing the stairs and going for a jog all burn calories. This is why leading an active lifestyle can be beneficial when trying to keep off the excess weight.
If the result of the calories in – calories out equation is a positive number, this is known as a caloric surplus. It means your are consuming more calories than you are burning. These excess calories are stored as fat in various areas of the body, which leads to weight gain over time.
If the result of the equation is a negative number (a caloric deficit), the opposite happens – your body starts to make use of its fat stores as a source of energy and you begin to lose weight over time.
Caloric needs will vary greatly from individual to individual, depending on age, gender, weight, height, activity levels and overall goals. To determine the number of calories that you should be consuming, use the tool below.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 25 year old lady who weighs 80 kg (176 lb), is 165 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 days a week should aim to consume 2400 calories to maintain her weight and 1900 calories weight.
Coconut milk is rich in fat, which is also why it is high in calories; a cup (240g) has 552 calories. By comparison, a cup of full fat milk has 146 calories, less than a third the amount. This means that yes, you can carry on enjoying coconut milk, but you should consume it in moderation.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, coconut milk is available in varying degrees of thickness. The thicker the coconut milk, the higher in calories it will be. And because there are so many brands that produce coconut milk, it is always a good idea to read nutrition labels, so that you know just how many calories the coconut milk that you are drinking has.
Is coconut milk healthy?
Because coconut milk is prepared from coconut flesh, it is a good source of various nutrients, including some of the B vitamins, manganese, selenium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc.
This study found that when participants consumed coconut milk porridge, their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels decreased, whilst their HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased.