You likely reach for that bottle of olive oil without a second thought when you’re whipping up something delish. But have you ever considered what olive oil does for weight loss and your overall health?

Olive oil is most known for its ability to lower blood pressure, support heart health, and reduce inflammation. A research review even suggested that it might even have anticancer effects.

So, alongside all of these healthful benefits, if you’re on a weight loss journey, olive oil may help with losing weight.

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Monounsaturated fatty acids help maintain

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). A 2013 research review suggested that unsaturated fats, like MUFAs, are more beneficial to maintaining a healthy weight than their saturated fat counterparts.

A study with animals showed that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats helps prevent weight gain and fat accumulation.

Medium-chain triglycerides help fat burning

Olive oil is also a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that break down quickly and get absorbed by your liver, which uses them for energy.

A research review showed that MCTs play an important role in helping people maintain a healthy weight. One study even found that MCTs helped produce higher levels of appetite-regulating hormones like peptide YY than long-chain triglycerides, helping participants feel fuller longer.

The same study above also concluded that MCTs may help increase your body’s fat and calorie burning abilities.

Mediterranean diet = balanced diet

The Mediterranean diet is a great example of olive oil’s benefits in action.

This delicious diet relies on high amounts of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and potatoes. The main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, but fish is also often found in these dishes.

Red meat and sweet treats are limited (though not excluded!) from this eating style.

And because your diet shouldn’t cause you unnecessary stress, one study with animals suggested that the Mediterranean diet may also help reduce stress in non-human primates. While we still need some human studies too, this still shows that there may be benefits to the diet beyond nutrition.

OK, so there are some folks who claim that an olive oil rubdown can help you lose weight. But these claims are purely anecdotal, and there’s no actual research to support them.

One study found that olive oil massages can promote weight gain in preterm babies.

But the jury is still out on this so just stick to consuming your olive oil.

Used as a popular cleanse method, some believe that mixing olive oil and lemon juice as a beverage can put you on a fast track to weight loss.

But while cleanses may seem like fast fixes, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

Liquid cleanse results are temporary and can cause you to take in very few calories. This can result in not only in fat loss, but also in muscle loss, according to a research review. So, while you can lose weight this way, it’s not healthy or sustainable.

Your best bet: Don’t rely on short-term (and potentially harmful) solutions like liquid detoxes. But there’s no harm in mixing lemon juice and olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.

Olive oil is most effective for weight loss when incorporated into your overall diet. In fact, a 2010 study comparing an olive oil-enriched diet to a standard low fat diet found that participants on the olive-oil diet lost more weight.

So, how much should you be using each day?

It’s important to first understand that 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of olive oil contains 119 calories and 14 grams of fat, which can quickly add up.

Try to keep your olive oil intake limited to a few tablespoons. That means that just drinking olive oil for weight loss isn’t the best idea.

Get your EVOO in

Adding small amounts of olive oil into your diet is easy. Olive oil has lots of uses, and you can:

  • use it as a salad dressing
  • drizzle it on dishes (even pizza!)
  • sauté veggies in it
  • use it as a dip for fresh bread
  • mix it into pasta
  • use it in your baking
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Among its many health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation, olive oil can also play a role in healthy weight loss.

The most effective way to use olive oil to shed pounds is to incorporate it into your overall diet. Think the popular Mediterranean diet, which uses olive oil as its main source of (healthy!) fat.

It’s important to be wary of “quick fixes” when it comes to using olive oil for weight loss. Claims that it can quickly erase pounds as a massage oil or in a cleanse won’t give you healthy, long-lasting results.