Does Coconut Oil Break a Fast?

Intermittent fasting has a lot of health benefits including weight loss, but what you can and can’t have during your fasting period can be confusing. Will coconut oil break your fast? Or is it allowed?

Coconut oil also has many health benefits. It can help boost metabolism and improve cognitive functioning. It would be great to have the benefits of coconut oil during your fasting window without it breaking your fast.

But the last thing you want to do is unknowingly break your fast by having coconut oil when you weren’t supposed to. I’ll be the first to admit what you can and can’t have during intermittent fasting is confusing and frustrating.

Here, I’ll be breaking down the gray area of coconut oil during intermittent fasting. You’ll get a definitive answer if coconut oil breaks a fast. So, let’s dive into the comprehensive analysis of coconut oil and intermittent fasting.

Can You Have Coconut Oil While Fasting?

Quick Answer: Coconut oil will technically break a fast because it contains a high amount of calories and fats. Having coconut oil during your fasting isn’t allowed, even though it doesn’t contain any sugars or carbs. Still, the high amount of calories and fats cause you to break a fast.

Just two tablespoons of coconut oil contains 240 calories, 28 grams of fat, and zero protein or carbs. This high amount of calories during your intermittent fasting window will definitely cause you to break a fast.

Fasting purists believe anything other than water will break your fast. But there is some leeway depending on your goals with intermittent fasting, especially if you’re doing it to lose weight. Dirty fasting provides a less strict method of fasting that makes it easier to comply with long-term.

Dirty fasting allows zero-calorie drinks like coffee and tea without completely breaking your fast. As long as it doesn’t contain sugars and is below the 50-calorie threshold, then you can have a small amount during your fasting period.

While 5 or 10 calories from chewing gum or drinking a Coke Zero won’t break your fast, having 120 calories from a single tablespoon of coconut oil will definitely break it. Some like putting a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in their morning coffee when fasting, but doing this will cause you to break your fast.

But if adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to your morning coffee helps you stick with intermittent fasting, then it could be allowed for compliance’s sake. You’ll still be in a semi-fasted ketogenic state that promotes fat-burning, and you’ll be better off than having donuts or a bagel for breakfast.

Speed Up Ketosis with Coconut Oil

Ketosis is your body’s process of switching from using incoming sugars and carbohydrates for fuel to using fat stores converted into ketones.1 Ketosis is the ketogenic state your body enters after 12-plus hours of fasting.2

To put your body into a ketogenic state, you’ll have to restrict carbs and sugars for a long time. Full ketosis can take at least two days, but with intermittent fasting, your body will enter a light stage of ketosis after 12 to 16 hours.

Your body will have an easier time entering a light state of ketosis if the last meal you had before starting your fasting period is low-carb and sugar-free. Your body stores excess sugars and carbs as glycogen in your muscles and liver, and that also needs to decrease before your body starts the ketosis process.

Coconut oil is 100% fat (no carbs or protein), and about 90% of that is saturated fats.3 These saturated fats are made up of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) that are processed differently in your body compared to other fats. Unlike coconut water or coconut milk, coconut oil does not contain sugars or carbs.

MCTs are processed in your liver, where they’re oxidized into energy and converted into ketones.4 How efficiently they’re converted into ketones depends on the type of MCT they are. For example, C8-MCTs (caprylic acid) are the most efficient and quickest to convert into ketones, making them the ideal form for ketosis.5

Coconut oil contains about 50% C12-MCTs (lauric acid), which are about six times less ketogenic efficient than C8-MCTs. Coconut oil’s MCTs only contain about 5-10% C8-MCTs, which doesn’t make it the most efficient source of MCTs for putting your body into a ketogenic state.6

But you should still have a slight increase in ketones (less than 1 mmol/L), which will help ketosis slightly but won’t break it. MCTs, especially C8-MCTs, will be a lot more effective during intermittent fasting to put your body into a ketogenic fat-burning state.7

Fat Fasting

However, a small amount of coconut oil can be taken during your fast if it helps with compliance and if your main goal is weight loss. Coconut oil does keep you in a ketogenic, low-calorie state that will promote weight loss.

Fat Fasting is an alternative method of fasting that allows you to consume only dietary healthy fats (no carbs or protein). It can be done for 3-5 days, and it should help kickstart ketosis while being less strict than intermittent fasting.

Fat Fasting is a great way to mix things up and even help break through a plateau. Strict intermittent fasting for too long can also be stressful on your thyroid, which could hinder weight loss. Another version is PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast), which is when you only consume protein to prevent muscle breakdown.

It still gives your body the calories it needs to keep your metabolism strong. Strict intermittent fasting all the time can be addictive and hard on your body, eventually slowing down your metabolism.

The goal of Fat Fasting is to consume some calories without spiking your blood sugar or insulin levels. Try to get about 25% of your daily calories from dietary fat. For example, if you require 2000 calories per day, then you should only eat 500 calories of fat.

You can easily get these fats from your diet by adding coconut oil to your morning black coffee, drinking green tea with grass-fed butter or ghee, and even having extra virgin olive oil. But it’s better to get your fats from oils since many foods still have some carbs in them (avocados, for example).

I try to get MCTs earlier in the day because they produce ketones, are quickly digested, and kickstart fat-burning. Later in the day, you can mix things up and get a different spectrum of fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated).

Best Oils That Don’t Break a Fast

Consuming coconut oil while you’re fasting will also break autophagy.8 Autophagy is your body’s process of recycling old damaged cells and starts occurring when fasting for 17+ hours.9 But like consuming anything with calories, you will break autophagy by taking coconut oil.

The problem with taking oils during your fast is that they’re very calorie-dense. Every 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. For example, a single tablespoon of olive oil contains 14 grams of fat, which equals 126 calories.

Even the most lenient fasting styles (dirty fasting) allow less than 50 calories. So, a single tablespoon of oil will definitely break your fast. But if you’re following a modified Fat Fasting style, then you can definitely have some oils like extra virgin olive oil.

The best oil that doesn’t break your fast is MCT oil. MCTs are quickly digested and rapidly converted into ketones via your liver. Ketones are your body’s alternative energy source when sugars and carbohydrates are depleted.

By taking MCT oil, you can help kickstart this ketogenic process. It can take a while for your body to start the ketogenic process when fasting (12+ hours), so by taking MCTs earlier in the day when fasting, you can help trigger this metabolic switch to making ketones from fat stores.

C8-MCTs (caprylic acid) are the most efficient and ketogenic type of MCTs. Your body processes them the fastest and easiest into ketones. So make sure you’re using an MCT oil or powder that contains only 100% pure C8-MCTs. Many MCT oils contain a blend of multiple MCT types, which will be less efficient.

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  • So, does coconut oil break a fast? Yes. Coconut oil is very calorically dense since it’s made up of fats. Even a tablespoon or two of coconut oil will diminish your results and probably break your fast. It doesn’t matter if the coconut oil is pure extra virgin or not.
  • You can use coconut oil if you’re trying a Fat Fasting style regimen. This is a great way to mix things up, take a break from strict intermittent fasting, and give your metabolism and thyroid a break.
  • Coconut oil helps to keep you in a ketogenic state, which promotes fat-burning. Since coconut oil is made up of fats, your blood sugar and insulin won’t spike.
  • MCTs are a preferred source of fats and oils during intermittent fasting. They’re processed differently than coconut oil and other oils and won’t break your fast. They can possibly speed up your results by boosting fat burning and the ketogenic process.