In this article:
- The make up of MCT oil
- The benefits of MCT oil
- Should I be taking MCT oil?
- How to add MCT oil to your diet
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides or medium chain fat. They are a saturated fatty acid that can be found in coconuts among other foods. MCT oil is a dietary supplement that contains the most effective types of MCTs. Compared to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) or long-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids have fewer carbon atoms and are processed by the liver making them a quicker, easier to digest, and more efficient source of energy. Since our bodies can break down and digest MCTs quicker than LCTs, they are also more likely to be burned for energy rather than stored for fat.
In instances where the body is low on carbohydrates or has used up its glycogen stores, MCTs may be turned into ketones. During ketosis, your body goes into fat-burning mode and creates ketones that cross from the blood to the brain and provide you with mental energy and clarity. For this reason, MCT oil is staking its claim in the ketogenic diet, which prioritizes fat consumption and body fat burning over using carbs and glucose for energy!
There are four main types of MCTs. Each one differs in terms of its purported health benefits and ease of digestion. Your typical MCT oil supplement may contain each type in various amounts due to taste and perceived health benefits:
Many believe that caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) can be more rapidly absorbed and processed for energy than lauric acid. Additionally, capric acid is said to have a poor taste, so it is rarely included in MCT oil supplements in large quantities. Each of the four MCTs can be found in varying amounts in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products such as whole milk and butter. With that said, no single food source contains the daily recommended dosage of 5–70 grams (0.17–2.5 ounces). For that, you'll need a high quality MCT oil supplement.
Due to its ability to help your body enter ketosis and produce ketones, MCT oil may have the following benefits:
MCTs are considered likely safe for most people when taken by mouth. They are a go-to for anyone following the keto diet or looking for a caffeine-free way to boost their energy levels. On rare occasion, however, they may cause:
Additionally, MCTs should not be taken if:
With that said, adding MCT oil to your diet could help you in many ways! You don't have to be a keto-purist to try it out. In fact, there are many recipes and ways to include it in your diet and reap all of its benefits.
High quality MCT oil supplements are flavorless, making them easy to add to your favorite dishes. Though MCT oil supplements are pricier than coconut oil, it's important to remember it is a much more concentrated and effective oil. That means that drizzling coconut oil into your favorite desserts won't provide the same benefits as a supplement. In addition, MCT oil is adversely affected by high temperatures, so heating the oil affects how it's absorbed by the body. For this reason it’s best to use this oil as an accent. Here are some great ways to add a little MCT to your meal time:
Because MCT oil can cause complications for some people, it's best to run it by a dietitian or your healthcare provider before you add it to your daily routine. For many people, it's a safe, easy, and effective way to incorporate fat into your diet and keep your energy flowing!