MCT oil has been a big deal in the paleosphere since bulletproof coffee surfaced as the new wellness trend.
While I’m not a huge fan of dosing myself with caffeine and fat while fasting (in fact, I never do it), I do really believe that MCT oil can have some great benefits. I use it while cooking sometimes (this is my fave). This is because MCT Oil may be able to surpass coconut oil for its nutritional, physical and cognitive benefits.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT’s, or Medium Chain Triglycerides, are a form of fat that is digested differently than an LCT (long chain triglycerides) or SCT (short chain triglycerides). (For more detail on the molecule content, click here.) They’re unique because short chain and long chain triglycerides are metabolized in the digestive system. MCT’s are metabolized in the liver for faster, cleaner conversion to energy or ketones. Ketones are the highly valued component in the ketogenic diet.
While I am not the biggest fan of ketosis, ketones can be wonderful.
4 types of MCT
There are four types of MCT’s, distinguished by carbon content.
C6 – Caproic Acid : is one type of MCT, the shortest of the medium chain triglycerides. This MCT is known as the MCT behind “disaster pants” or a negative digestive side effect resulting in immediate bouts of diarrhea.
C8 – Caprylic Acid : This MCT contains 8 carbon molecules. Because of the smaller amount of carbon content, C8 is easily transferred metabolized into ketones in the liver resulting in instantaneous bursts of energy.
C10 – Capric Acid : This MCT contains ten carbons. The addition of two extra carbons means the MCT reaction is more delayed in the body than C8, but still faster than C12.
C12 – Lauric Acid : The longest of the medium chain triglycerides, C12 is also closest to resembling the molecular structure of an LCT. Like C10, C12 is digested in the liver the slowest, and ketone production can only occur if you are on a low carb diet.
Why are people using MCT oil to begin with?
- Eliminating Brain Fog
Because the carbon content of these triglycerides is less than that of their shorter and longer cousins, they are digested faster and more readily resulting in a more immediate release of energy and clarity. In addition, MCT’s do not require additional energy to digest or be metabolized in the body, so the energy you receive from consuming MCT’s can immediately turn over into a clean form of energy.
With all the commotion regarding ketogenic diets these days, MCT’s have been put in the spotlight as commonly seen as an important partner for those on the ketosis diet. Many people who try to do ketosis focus on MCT oil because it further helps their body build up ketone levels in the blood. Interestingly enough, eating a low or zero carb diet, contrary to popular opinion, is not necessary to have ketones in the blood, exactly because you can achieve the same effect from MCT oil. To read more about this ‘shortcut,’ check out this post.
- Gut and Skin health
MCT’s containing Lauric Acid (from coconut oil) are known to be antiviral and antibacterial. This has led researchers to believe that MCT’s can contribute to healthy gut flora by stabilizing the bad bacteria. The derivative of Lauric Acid, Monolaurin, has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Lauric Acid is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties against acne. This combined with its antimicrobial properties make it a great supplement to promote a healthy gut reduce inflammation.
- Weight Loss
This is a debated topic amongst MCT consumers. Many believe that MCT aids in weight loss, and several studies conducted contribute to this mindset. This study compared individuals using LCT vs MCT and in the course of 4, 8, and 12 weeks demonstrated that those ingesting MCT’s “lost more subcutaneous fat than their counterparts using only LCT.” A lot of this can be attributed to the satiety produced by consuming MCT’s resulting in less consumption of food overall. This inhibits our leptin receptors which also may lead to increased overall satiety. Curious regarding the other ways leptin affects us? Check out this post here.
(I happen to have a program for healthy and sustainable weight loss if you’re into that sort of thing, which you can check out here!)
How to use it
MCT can be found in coconut and palm oils and high fat dairy products, but is most commonly used in a liquid form, like this one that I have been using. Mixing with coffee or tea in the morning is a common and effortless way to ingest the MCT’s. Start small first, and work your way up to the recommended dose. My friends say a good way to start is by putting a teaspoon in coffee, but I mainly stick to using it in food as that can have less digestive effects. If you do use the coffee method, I recommend consistently stirring or whisking your coffee or tea, as the oil can congeal towards the top of your beverage.
MCT oil can be used in :
- Teas or Coffee
In food sources, MCT is most highly concentrated in palm oil, and then coconut oil. High quality cheese also contains a substantial amount of MCT’s. Goat’s milk total percent fat content of MCT’s is 19.8%, however it is barely near the 79% found in palm oil. For a full chart of foods containing MCT’s, click here.
MCT oil really has no drawbacks, so long as you’re using a high quality source.
MCT’s ability to be metabolized in the liver and immediately make ketones creates a clean instant burst of energy that lasts. This is perhaps my favorite part – the long energy and satiation.
Also, because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties found in Lauric Acid, MCT oil can also be an excellent way for those with autoimmune conditions to metabolize fat and boost immune systems. MCT can stray leptin cues however, so ensure you are listening to your body and feeding it the proper amount of food while supplementing, especially carbs!!
I would love to know about your experiences. Have you tried MCT oil? If so, what was your experience like?