What is MCT oil? What are the health benefits of consuming MCT oils and what are the side effects of MCT oils? We will try to answer these questions in this article.
“MCT” is short for “medium-chain triglycerides.”
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially man-made fats. The name refers to the way the carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure.
MCTs are generally made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in the laboratory. Usual dietary fats, by comparison, are long-chain triglycerides. People use MCTs as medicine.
If you’re following a low-carb, high-fat diet like the ketogenic diet supplementing your diet with MCT oil ensures you’re getting enough fat to stay in ketosis. (That’s the state in which your body burns fat, rather than carbohydrates, for fuel.)
But that’s not the only reason people use MCT oil. It’s a great tool if you’re looking to lose weight and boost your brainpower, among tons of other benefits.
MCT Oil Benefits
“MCT oil increases energy, endurance, metabolism, satiety and brain function, especially when compared to other forms of fat, including olive oil,” says Kelly Schmidt, RD, author of “What’s the Deal With Paleo and Primal Eating?”
MCTs are largely missing from the typical Western diet, so adding MCT oil to your daily routine can be a powerful way to get the benefits of multi-tasking smart fats. Here’s why this oil is so good for you:
RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
MCT oil can help you quickly lose weight. Studies show that MCTs, particularly C8 and C10, cause your body to burn fat and calories, no matter what kind of diet you follow.
Your body turns MCTs into alternative forms of energy called ketones, which increase your metabolic rate (aka your metabolism) and burn the fat you already have.
And no, you don’t have to follow the keto diet to benefit from MCT oil’s effects. “People on the Standard American Diet may still lose weight from MCT oil from the positive effects it has on hunger hormones, the boost in metabolism and reduction in inflammation,” says Schmidt, although the weight loss won’t be as dramatic as someone following a ketogenic diet.
Quality fat is satiating, so MCT oil helps you feel fuller, longer — without having to think about a mid-morning snack.
There’s science behind it: MCTs raise ketones. Ketones suppress ghrelin (aka your hunger hormone) and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.
MORE BRAIN POWER
High-quality MCT oil turns into ketones within minutes, providing your brain with a fast jolt of energy and mental clarity.
“When someone’s carbs are low enough, MCT oil can be converted into ketones, which unlike glucose, can cross the blood-brain barrier and be used as a fuel source for brain cells,” says Schmidt.
STRENGTHENS THE GUT
Research shows that MCT oil balances beneficial gut bacteria and may support your gut lining.
When you have holes in your intestine, toxins, bacteria, and food particles can escape and enter your bloodstream, putting you at risk for serious gastrointestinal (GI) disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and food allergies.
Read More: How To Restore Gut Health
BOOSTS YOUR WORKOUT
Studies show that MCT oil can help you exercise longer and improve your stamina.
In one study, mice who ate a diet rich in MCTs showed more endurance during a swim test compared to mice that were fed long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).
In another study, recreational athletes who ate foods containing MCTs for two weeks could do longer sessions of high-intensity exercises.
People who supplemented with MCT oil lasted longer and built up less blood lactate during high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
How Does MCT Oil Works?
“MCT oil is digested differently as it gets absorbed directly from the gut into the liver, bypassing the physiology of being stored as fat,” says Schmidt. That means your body breaks down MCTs quicker than the long-chain triglycerides found in other fatty foods. Your liver converts MCTs into ketones — the fuel source your body produces when it burns fat for fuel.
Ketones are awesome. They increase energy, metabolism, satiety and brain function, and they’ve been shown to help curb food cravings, which makes it easier to stabilize your blood sugar and stay in ketosis.
There are four strains of MCT:
- Caproic acid (C6)
- Caprylic Acid (C8)
- Capric Acid (C10)
- Lauric Acid (C12)
For maximum ketone benefits, you want C8 oil (that’s what you’ll find in Brain Octane oil). Keep reading for a detailed breakdown of each type of MCT.
Types Of MCTS
CAPROIC ACID (C6)
Technically, C6 quickly converts to ketones, but there isn’t enough of it to matter in coconut oil. Plus, it tastes bad and often results in stomach upset.
If your generic MCT oil makes your throat burn or has a weird flavor, one reason may be that the distillation process didn’t remove enough of the C6.
CAPRYLIC ACID (C8): ~7% OF COCONUT OIL
This is Brain Octane oil, and it’s the all-around best MCT for ketogenic energy. It only takes three steps for your body to turn its energy into your cells.
Sugar takes 26 steps. Plus, C8 produces four times more ketones than coconut oil, which means more ketone benefits like amplified energy, fat loss, and metabolic burn.
CAPRIC ACID (C10): ~7% OF COCONUT OIL
This is the second shortest form of MCT. It takes more time to turn into ketone energy, but it’s more affordable than C8.
LAURIC ACID (C12): ~49% OF COCONUT OIL
C12 is what you’ll mostly find in coconut oil, but your body doesn’t treat it like an MCT. Rather than immediately getting converted into energy, lauric acid requires a pit stop in the liver.
This is why it is more accurately described as a long-chain triglyceride (LCT), not an MCT.
Lauric acid is not the same as monolaurin, an extremely potent antimicrobial that is derived from lauric acid.
Lauric acid has a few antimicrobial benefits, but it’s simply not the most effective way to fuel your brain and body because it does not create energy in the brain the way that C8 and C10 do. So if you want lauric acid — and you do because it has some benefits — then just eat some coconut oil.
C-14 AND ABOVE
AKA the other fats in coconut oil. These are LCTs, also known as long-chain fatty acids.
The exact percentage of LCTs in coconut oil depends on variables like the region the coconut was grown and its time of harvest.
LCTs are good as a fuel source, but they are also widely available in other oils, and you won’t benefit from eating a lot more of them compared to eating true medium-chain fatty acids.
Compare MCT To Coconut oil. What’s The Difference?
You might have heard that coconut oil is a source of MCTs. The reality is that you can’t get enough of the really useful MCTs (C8 and C10) from just eating coconut oil alone.
For the biggest return on your energy investment, you want pure, distilled C8 MCT oil. C10 is a close runner-up — and you can find it in XCT oil.
MCT Oil vs. MCT Powder
MCT oil powder is a convenient way to bring MCTs on the go, but how does it compare to MCT oil? It depends on the MCT oil powder you choose. Not all products are created equal, and some MCT oil powders might even kick you out of ketosis.
MCT oil powder is a little different. It’s produced via a process called spray drying, in which MCT oil is sprayed onto a carrier material, which forms a powder. So, when you’re considering MCT oil powders, you have to ask these questions:
What type of MCT oil are you getting? C8 is the best MCT oil because your body most easily converts it into ketones. C10 is a close runner-up. The manufacturer should disclose what type of MCT you’re getting in your powder.
What is the carrier powder? Some carrier powders will kick you out of ketosis because they spike your insulin levels. If you see maltodextrin or glucose on the ingredients list, just say no.
What is the source of the MCT oil? MCT oil is also found in palm oil, but the palm oil industry is problematic, to say the least. Make the planet-friendly choice by buying MCT oil sustainably sourced from coconuts.
What are the other ingredients? The ingredients list on your MCT oil powder shouldn’t be a mile long. If it’s flavored, make sure the manufacturers aren’t sneaking in artificial sweeteners that will wreck your gut. Check out this list of gut-friendly sweeteners that won’t kick you out of ketosis.
How much fat do I get? Because each serving also contains a carrier powder, you might not consume as much fat as you would if you used liquid MCT oil alone. Look for a powder that lists how much MCT oil you get per serving.
Another note on carrier powders: Acacia gum and resistant dextrin are great carriers because they’re good for your gut. Dextrin, the carrier powder used in InstaMix, is resistant starch.
Although it’s technically a carbohydrate, resistant starch isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it functions as a prebiotic, which feeds your good gut bacteria.
Side Effects & Safety
CTs are safe for most people when taken by mouth or given intravenously (by IV). They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, nausea, stomach discomfort, intestinal gas, essential fatty acid deficiency, and other side effects. Taking MCTs with food might reduce some side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of MCTs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: MCTs can cause certain chemicals called ketones to build up in the body. This can be a problem for people with diabetes. Avoid using MCTs if you have diabetes.
Liver problems: Because MCTs are processed primarily by the liver, they can cause serious problems in people with liver disease. Do not use this oil if you have cirrhosis or other liver problems.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
For preventing muscle breakdown in critically ill patients: As a fat source for people who receive all their food intravenously (by IV): a fat mixture containing 50% MCTs and 50% long-chain triglycerides (usual dietary fats) is commonly used in total parenteral nutrition (TPN) formulas.
For improving seizure control: MCT oil is used as 60% of the calories eaten.
Conclusion: MCT oil can help you with weight loss and boost your energy.If you are taking care of how much you take and what type there will be no side effects for your health.Before start taking consult with your doctor first.