Have you heard of MCT oil? MCT oil is one of the most popular health topics today. Part of the reason for this is that MCT oil is a favorite product among body-builders and athletes. Naturally once the general public finds out what athletes are successfully using, we all want to be a part of it. Let’s discuss what MCT oil is and how it can benefit you.

What is MCT Oil? 

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. Basically it is a fat molecule that contains between six and twelve carbon atoms. MCTs are different than the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most other foods. Now you are wondering, why is medium-chain better than long-chain? MCTs are digested more rapidly in the body and are a clean source of quick fuel. This means that they are not filled with sugar or other processed ingredients. They are also less likely to be stored as fat. In addition, MCTs are metabolized into ketones in the liver. However, it doesn’t impact insulin levels.(1)

Exogenous Ketones

MCT oil is essentially a supplement that contains many of these fats. It is a clear, flavorless liquid that can be mixed into various foods for consumption. Now that we’ve discussed what MCT oil is, we will discuss how it helps you lose weight.

MCTs and Weight Loss

MCTs help you lose weight in various ways. I will list them here for you and discuss them below.

  • MCTs Reduce Daily Calorie Intake
  • They Reduce Body Weight
  • They Make You Lose Inches
  • You Experience Less Hunger Pains
  • They Reduce Insulin Resistance

When you consume MCTs, you will reduce your daily calorie intake. For example, one study found that when people used MCT oil in their food as a replacement for olive oil, they burned about 300 more calories per day! In addition to that, they lost body fat.(2) Those are definitely significant results.

MCT oil increases fat burning by increasing fat oxidation in the liver. Then, they are broken down into energy or ATP in the mitochondria of your cells. In 2013, there was a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled studies. All studies resulted in significantly reduced body weight and inches.(3)

MCTs also make you experience less hunger pains. A study in 2014 found that MCTs led to a greater increase in the hormones peptide YY and leptin. These hormones are responsible for reducing your appetite and make you feel full.(1)

In addition, the usage of MCT oil results in a reduction of insulin resistance.(4) MCT oil helps control diabetes by reducing fat storage and increasing fat burning. Also, it will help manage your blood sugar.(5) Now that we’ve discussed how MCT oil aids in weight loss, we will discuss how it affects the Keto diet.

MCTs and Keto

How does MCT oil affect the Keto diet? There are many benefits to consuming MCT oil while on the Keto diet. It is beneficial because MCTs are easily converted to ketones. The reason for this is because the body requires less work to break the carbon bonds apart. A study in 2018 resulted in significantly faster transition times from burning sugar to burning fat while consuming MCT oil.(7)

MCT also has a thermogenic effect and increases your metabolism. Some other benefits of MCT oil while on a Keto diet include:

  • It Helps Your Body Produce Ketones
  • It Increases Energy
  • It Makes Intermittent Fasting Easier

The reason ketones are important is because they have many benefits to our bodies. Some of those benefits include decreasing food cravings, increasing mental clarity, increasing energy and calming inflammation.(7)

Consuming MCT oil while you are on a Keto diet can actually make intermittent fasting easier for you to do. This is because ketones elevate your energy and decrease hunger. Another study done in 2018 confirms that taking MCT oil reduces Keto flu symptoms. (9) Keto flu is what many experts have nicknamed the symptoms that accompany a drastic decrease in carbohydrates. So you can see why this is important.

MCTs increase energy as well. Some studies have also shown they can make it so you can exercise longer and more intensely.(8) This will be addressed in the next section as well. Now we will discuss how MCTs affects our brain health.

MCTs and Brain Health

Your brain cannot store energy. Therefore, it requires a constant stream from somewhere else. This stream is usually supplied by blood glucose. However, when your blood sugar gets too low, it needs a backup system. That is when the liver steps in to help. The liver will break down body fat so that we make ketones. This is important because ketones are what supplies the brain with instant energy. (10)

Additionally, studies have shown that MCT significantly improves cognitive function in those people who suffer from brain conditions. (11) MCTs offer  benefits for a wide range of diseases. These diseases include:

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Traumatic Brain Injury(12)

MCTs have been found to delay brain aging. This is because MCT oil makes extra fuel and that repairs brain cell damage.(13) In addition, the fact that ketones increase mitochondrial efficiency and supplement the brain’s energy is very promising for Alzheimer’s research.(14) Furthermore, adults with mild cognitive impairment have experienced improvement in memory recall within 90 minutes of a single dose of MCT oil.(12) Now that we will discuss MCT oil and exercise.

MCTs and Exercise

MCT oil can be beneficial to our bodies during exercise as well. It increases fat burning and reduces the need for carbohydrates during exercise.(6) It also leads to increased mitochondrial biogenesis. This is important because the mitochondria is what gives the brain the ability to think and use energy. As we stated earlier, studies have shown that MCTs increase your endurance and longevity of exercising as well.(8)

High Quality MCT Octane Powder

In addition, MCTs help reduce lactate buildup. One study found that athletes who consumed 1.5 teaspoons of MCTs before bicycling had lower lactate levels. They also found it easier to exercise.(6) This is in comparison to those bicyclists who were taking LCTs.

The MCTs found in coconut oil also reduce fat accumulation in your body. MCTs have shorter carbon chains so they metabolize much faster than LCTs in the body. This is because MCTs are directly transported to the liver. Then the liver changes MCTs into energy and ketones. Ketones are the byproducts of fat metabolism. MCTs produce a thermogenic effect in the body because they are used immediately. This results in a higher metabolism. A study in 2015 concluded that replacing LCTs with MCTs in the diet leads to reductions in body weight, visceral fat, and total body fat as well. (15) Now we will discuss MCT oil and gut health.

MCTs and Gut Health

MCT oil also benefits gut health. Dietary fats stimulate digestion. This means there will be more movement in your digestive tract. MCTs also improve the gut microbiome and gut lining because of the way they are processed in our bodies. This causes the metabolic function to increase as well. (16)

In addition, MCTs support antimicrobial activity. We know this because caprylic acid is beneficial in reducing bacterial overgrowth in the gut. (16)

MCTs also increase fat absorption in our bodies. We need fat for our bodies to function. Without fat, our bodies experience digestive discomfort, poor nutrient absorption, and hormone imbalances.(16)

Furthermore, because MCT oil supports a healthy gut microbiome with its quick digestive process and antimicrobial activity, it helps to balance hormones.

Another fact worth noting is that MCT powder is actually more beneficial for your gut health than MCT oil. This is because MCT powder is better for digestion. Now we will discuss the applications of MCT oil.

Applications

Another benefit for MCT oil is that anyone can use it. You can put it in smoothies, or add it to your coffee. Some people would rather take it as a supplement and others may use it as a finishing oil on their food. The most important thing to keep in mind is that not all MCT oil is created equally.  You will want to make sure that you are receiving the product that you want. Check the labels very carefully.

Now hopefully you have learned a lot about MCT oil and the many benefits. Please try it and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2003.53
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17570262
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1568535
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19436137
  7. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/qa/what-are-ketones
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805166/
  9. https://naturalforce.com/blogs/nutrition/keto-flu-ultimate-guide
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296368
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209465/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/
  13. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105112614.htm
  14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1933721308000937
  15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S221226721401591
  16. https://gut.bmj.com/content/46/2/205