MCT Oil has become all the rage on the keto scene, but many people still ask us whether they should be using it.
6 Benefits of MCT Oil
5-Aug 2022, by Lee Sandwith
In this article, we’ll briefly explain what MCT Oil is, the benefits and potential risks.
What is MCT Oil?
To understand MCTs properly, we need to understand the terms “fatty acids” and “triglycerides”.
A free fatty acid molecule comprises a long chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms chain with a carboxyl group attached to the end.
There are two types of fatty acids: saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids.
Fatty acids play many important roles in the body, including energy storage, and if glucose isn't available for energy, they are used for fuel.
A triglyceride is a molecule called Glycerol with three fatty acids attached to it.
Triglycerides are the storage form of fat in plants and animals and can either enter the cell and be used as energy or stored as body fat (adipose tissue).
Medium Chain Triglycerides
Dietary fats are categorised based on the length of the carbon molecules contained within them.
There are three broad categories:
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
- Long Chain Triglycerides (LCT)
MCT, therefore, stands for Medium-chain triglycerides, a type of dietary fat that is found in certain oils, especially coconut oil.
Most of the dietary fat we eat are made from long-chain fatty acids.
As the name implies, long-chain fats are bulky, and take time to be broken down in the body to fuel activity.
On contrast, MCTs, given that they have a shorter chain of carbon atoms, digest much faster, and therefore provide a quicker source of energy.
This is where the benefits of MCTs start.
Types of MCT
There are a few types of MCTs, each containing of different numbers of carbon atoms:
- C6: caproic acid
- C8: caprylic acid
- C10: capric acid
- C12: lauric acid
Benefits of MCTs
Instant Energy and Increased Endurance
MCT Oil is one of the fastest sources of clean fuel for body and brain. These fast-absorbing fats are, hands down, one of the best ways to power up your performance or support a quality keto nutrition plan.
When MCTs are consumed, they go straight to the liver, where either they’re rapidly digested and absorbed, or turned into ketones. Not only does this provide a rapid energy boost, it can also support in maintaining the state of ketosis making it an ideal supplement for keto dieters.
Research has shown that MCTs can support weight loss in at least two ways. Firstly, when consumed in the morning, they increase satiety and help you feel satisfied after a meal so you don’t overeat (1).
Secondly, they appear to increase thermogenesis, the metabolic process in which your body burns calories to produce heat (2).
The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is something that I’ve discussed extensively on several platforms.
Research has shown that MCTs may improve diabetes and insulin resistance risk factors by improving blood glucose levels (5).
MCTs may also play a role in improving gut health as they can help control bacterial and yeast overgrowth. This is because they have antibacterial and antifungal properties (4).
Brain and Memory Function
Research has suggested that MCTs may support brain function and may have a positive impact on Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is because ketones are thought to compensate for impaired glucose uptake in the brain, a common issue for those with Alzheimer's disease (6).
- St-Onge MP, Mayrsohn B, O’Keeffe M, Kissileff HR,Choudhury AR, Laferrère B. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men.Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(10):1134–1140.
- Scalfi L, Coltorti A, Contaldo F. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1991;53(5):130–1133.
- Assunção ML, Ferreira HS, dos Santos AF, Cabral CR Jr, Florêncio TM. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601. doi: 10.1007/s11745-009-3306-6. Epub 2009 May 13. PMID: 19437058.
- Nagao K, Yanagita T. Medium-chain fatty acids: Functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome.Pharmacological Research. 2010;61(3):208-212.
- Han JR, Deng B, Sun J, Chen CG, Corkey BE, Kirkland JL, Ma J, Guo W. Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects. Metabolism. 2007 Jul;56(7):985-91. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2007.03.005. PMID: 17570262.
- Cunnane SC, Courchesne-Loyer A, St-Pierre V, Vandenberghe C, Pierotti T, Fortier M, Croteau E, Castellano CA. Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Mar;1367(1):12-20. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12999. Epub 2016 Jan 14. PMID: 26766547.