If you've heard about bulletproof coffee or the ketogenic diet, then you will have most likely stumbled upon MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil is trending. With health benefits claims ranging from weight loss to increased energy, it’s become ever more popular amongst health and wellness enthusiasts.
Although popular with keto fans, MCT oil isn’t only for those following specific nutrition approaches – it may, in fact, make a healthy addition to your everyday life. But is this 'miraculous' oil everything it's cracked up to be? Let’s dive in and investigate the claims – plus, we'll show you how to use MCT oil for best results.
What is MCT oil?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) – also known as medium-chain fatty acids – are a form of saturated fatty acids, believed to be near absent in the "standard" western diets. MCT compounds are found in coconut and palm oils, as well as in a few dairy products; however, MCT oil itself is created through laboratory extraction.
MCTs are absorbed by the body faster than more common long-chain fats. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, your body processes MCTs in the liver instead of in the gut, where they transform into ketones, which your body uses as energy. A key reason why MCT oil has gained traction as part of the ketogenic diet.
MCT oil vs. coconut oil
With the health benefits vs. harmful effects of saturated fats still under scrutiny, coconut oil is a hotly debated food, due to its high level of saturated fat and calories. Made from the flesh of coconuts, this type of oil packs in a whopping 12 grams of saturated fat -- around 85% of your daily recommended intake -- which can lead to a higher rate of LDL (so-called bad cholesterol). MCT oil, on the other hand, contains about 7 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.
Much of the MCT oil on the market today is extracted from coconut oil, in fact, around 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil are MCTs. During the manufacturing process, producers isolate the MCT in the oil before bottling and selling it. If you're looking for a high-quality source of MCT -- taken in small doses -- concentrated MCT oil is a good option.
MCT oil & weight loss
One of the most common claims by MCT oil fans is that it may help with weight loss. Although consuming high-fat foods was once demonized and cited as the cause of obesity, we now know that it’s not that black or white and that a moderate amount of the right kind of fat can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Researchers have found that MCT oil causes the body to increase the release of peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that are known to promote feelings of satiety. In one study, researchers found that pure MCT oil was better at staving off hunger pangs than coconut oil, which is a convincing argument when comparing MCT oil vs. coconut oil.
Another reason why MCT oil may promote weight loss is down to how your body metabolizes it. This goes back to the fact that MCT oil converts into ketone as the body's energy resource, instead of glucose, and in turn burning fat instead of storing it.
MCT oil side effects + benefits
As with pretty much any food or drink, too much of a good thing isn't always great. You could apply this logic to MCT oil as well. If you overdo taking MCT oil, the side effects aren’t pretty -- they include diarrhea, intestinal gas, nausea and vomiting amongst other unpleasant symptoms. It’s also a good idea to avoid MCT if you have diabetes or problems with your liver.
In addition to weight loss support, here are just a few other good reasons to add MCT oil to your diet:
As MCT converts into ketones as an energy resource for your body, it can be an alternative source of energy to glucose.
MCT oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which may hinder the growth of harmful yeast and bacteria.
MCTs have been known to prevent lactate buildup, making it a popular choice among athletes looking to improve their performance.
Be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure taking MCT oil is right for you, and to learn how to use MCT oil properly alongside any medications you may be taking.
How to use MCT Oil
When looking to try out MCT oil, make sure to opt for a reputable brand that you can trust – quality is always important when selecting nutritional products. Be sure to read the ingredients label to ensure that the oil you choose is free of any additives or pesky preservatives.
As far as dosage goes, the amount you take tends to vary from person to person. The general rule is to start small and work your way up from there. To begin with, try one teaspoon of pure MCT oil per day and slowly work your way up to one tablespoon a day.
Not sure how to use MCT oil? We recommend mixing your dose with a hot drink like tea or coffee, but you could also add MCT oil to a smoothie or post-workout shake.
The last word
Although MCT oil shows great promise in aiding weight loss and a whole host of other health issues, watch out for far-out claims that seem too good to be true. MCT isn’t a miracle potion, but it could be a tool to help you feel healthier!