How MCT Oil Works: Proven Health Benefits and Uses
With the right amount, MCT oil is the next healthier fats to try after coconut oil.
Have you ever heard of bulletproof coffee? Brewed with freshly grounded coffee beans, this kind of coffee is different from an ordinary cappuccino. What makes it unique is the additional brain octane oil (BOC) that provides an extra boost of energy, fat burning, and brain function.
Brain octane oil contains a healthy fatty acid called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Just like Omega-3 fatty acids, MCTs can be beneficial for people trying to lose weight, maintaining a healthy diet, reducing heart risks, among other health benefits.
Many studies recommend the use of MCTs and including it on our daily activities, but what are MCTs? Is it better than taking coconut oil? What other benefits can you get or risks you should look out when taking MCTs?
Here’s a breakdown of all you need to know about MCTs and the best way to maximize its benefits for your use.
What are MCTs?
Derived from their chemical structure of carbon and hydrogen, medium-chain triglycerides, or also known as medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) is a colorless and odorless oil that comes from coconut oils, palm oils, and dairy products such cheese, whole milk, butter, or yogurts.
Different fats are made up of carbon atoms. MCTs stand between long-chain fatty acids made up of 13 to 21 atoms, and short-chain fatty acids made up of 6 or fewer atoms.
Because of its medium length, MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat and more easily absorbed as energy by the body. When taken, these fatty acids go straight to the liver as ketones which affect the body’s metabolism by making it more active.
MCTs also contain antioxidants which can improve your mood, fight bacterial or viral infections, and inflammatory uses. As studies suggest, the quick absorbing and fast conversion properties of MCTs make these fatty acids suitable for the body.
Because not all fats are terrible for the body, recent research also shows that MCTs are saturated fats that are good for heart health, brain function, and weight maintenance.
Are there different types of MCTs?
The answer is a resounding YES. Just like any other fats, there are also different kinds of MCTs: Caproic Acid (C6), Caprylic Acid (C8), Capric Acid (C10), and Lauric Acid (C12). The ‘C’ stands for the chain that is on each fatty acids.
As mentioned above, the shorter the chain, the more likely it will be converted into ketone form which fuels the body. Ketones are byproducts of the body when fatty acids are broken down. This organic compound is what the body uses as energy instead of glucose.
Easily converted as ketone, caproic acid contains a lower chain of carbon atoms. However, due to its bad taste and effect on your stomach, it is usually removed or lessened as part of MCTs.
The brain quickly absorbs caprylic acid. This type of MCT is also the main component of brain octane oil due to its fast processing and boosting capability. Caprylic acid is also suitable for inhibiting food cravings.
Capric acid is smoothly broken down into ATP due to being the second shortest form of MCTs. This type of fatty acid also helps in weight loss and power workouts.
Lauric acid is slower to be processed by the liver because it contains more chains of carbon atoms and hydrogen. This type of fatty acid is known for its antimicrobial properties against bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and other pathogens.
How can MCTs help my body?
As more studies appear to back up the health benefits of other saturated fats, the hype on medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) continues to be real.
Various health reports already cited at least six benefits that you can get when added to your daily supplements or on your everyday activities.
- Promotes Weight Loss and Maintenance
Because of its chemical structure, MCTs are not stored as fats. Compared to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), these fatty acids have 10% fewer calories and stimulate weight loss thru faster fat oxidation.
On a hormonal level, MCTs release peptide YY and leptin which triggers your feeling of fullness and lesser food cravings. These fatty acids could help prevent obesity and energy expenditure.
A 2001 study among individuals who consume the same amount of food but differed on the receiving fat showed that there was lesser weight reduction among those MCT recipients than LCT takers. The subcutaneous fats, which are fats under the skin, also decrease significantly from the individuals who took MCTs.
Moreover, another study back in 2017 cited people who are taking up two tablespoons of MCT oil during breakfast appeared to consume less meal during lunch in comparison to other oils.
MCT oil also appears to improve gut lining as well as the increase of good bacteria in the body. Having a better gut with good bacteria can help weight loss. A purely high fat consumption is harmful to your gut.
- Boosts Brain Power and Energy
Because of its thermogenic effect, in which the fatty acid chains are digested quickly, MCTs is known for its boosting capabilities. A recent study shows that consumption of MCTs can improve memory problem and lighten mood compared to LCTs.
As MCTs are converted into ketones, it is swiftly absorbed by the brain cells as well as the gut. Without the need to break it down, the brain uses more ketones instead of glucose.
Back in 2016, three studies on the connection of Alzheimer’s and MCTs showed that nutrient absorption among those with Alzheimer’s who are taking MCTs are better than those who relied on glucose.
One study also showed that the improved gut health on medium chain triglycerides affects the sharpness and energy of the brain.
Moreover, MCTs help the gut in absorbing the vitamins and minerals of every food you eat. These fatty acids assist the body in absorbing fat-soluble nutrients.
- Prevents Heart Disease
The prevalence of heart disease among young people is alarming. High cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and being overweight are considered major factors that are contributing to this concern.
Because MCTs are easily broken down and not stored as fat, these fatty acids can prevent metabolic disorders which cause obesity. Moreover, MCT oil helps in alleviating the good cholesterol and decreasing the bad cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease.
Nutrient absorption properties, as well as its anti-inflammatory effect, decreases the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases.
- Reduces Lactic Build Up
Lactic build up is one of the many challenges that can affect your performance. Lactic build up happens when glucose cannot be broken down easily due to the lack of oxygen. The lactic acid can cause nausea and muscle weakness during intensive exercises or workouts.
Fortunately, research showed that MCT oil could help decrease lactic build up because the body uses more fats instead of glucose. Moreover, one study found that there are lower lactate levels among athletes who consume MCTs with their food before cycling.
- Fights Viruses, Bacteria, and Fungal Infections
As mentioned above, MCTs have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. One study found out that coconut oil can help reduce the growth of disease causing bacteria and yeast infection.
MCTs are known to defeat bacteria causing pneumonia, strep throat, food poisoning, meningitis, ulcer, among other stomach and pelvic diseases. As cited above, MCTs also reduce the proliferation of bad bacteria in the heart and gut while cultivating the growth of the good bacteria.
- Supports Diabetes Management
With more fat burning capabilities and less fat storing component, MCT can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin-mediated metabolism. As MCTs support weight and fat loss, these fatty acids help control the blood sugar.
According to a 2007 study done in observance of people with diabetes, the daily consumption of MCT oil among 40 people with type 2 diabetes appeared to make a significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance.
In comparison to people who are given LCTs, diabetes risk factors lessened in individuals who consumed MCTs as they needed 30% less sugar in their body.
Which is which: MCT oil or Coconut oil?
Coconut has been dubbed as the tree of life due to its various parts being used as different ailing treatments. High in healthy saturated fats, coconut oil itself is full of benefits ranging from weight loss to heart management. Just like the MCT oil, coconut oil is packed with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial components.
That said, there’s not much difference between MCT oil and coconut oil. As one of the most bioavailable sources of energy, MCT has an edge regarding its composition. Coconut oil contains only a percentage of MCTs while MCT oil is 100% packed with the needed capric acid and caprylic acid.
Coconut oil usually contains more lauric acid with only 22% of combined capric, caprylic, and caproic acid, while MCT oil has 20% to 50% capric acid and 50% to 80% caprylic acid.
As stated above, MCT oil also has a faster metabolization process than coconut oil. Because most of the composition of coconut oil is lauric acid, the body takes a longer route in breaking down the nutrients of coconut oil. Meanwhile, MCT oil contains fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the gut and quickly converted as ketones.
In terms of sources, coconut oil is coming from the coconut itself, while MCT oil is extracted from coconut oil and palm oil. Coconut oil usually has a strong smell and remains solid at room temperature. On the other hand, MCT oil is tasteless and stays liquid even at room temperature.
Both the coconut oil and MCT oil are beneficial to your health. What you need to make sure is how each oil was manufactured because some MCT oil might have been added unsaturated fatty oils or refined chemically.
Are there potential risks for consuming MCT oil?
All types of overconsumption are bad for the body no matter how healthy the product you are taking. Too much MCT oil is not beneficial and might bring you a fatty liver despite its quick absorbing capacities.
It is important for you to remember that MCT oil is indeed an additional fat and high doses of it are not recommended by various studies.
Moreover, as you take MCT oil, it should also be coupled with a proper diet. MCT oil may be able to reduce total body fat and improve insulin resistance, however, eating extra calorie junk and fatty foods will not help stabilize your health.
Researchers suggest to take in MCT oil as a supplementary to your daily needs. Consume MCT oil as part of your dietary source and not as your main energy booster.
What ways can I use MCT oil?
MCT oil has a low smoking point which makes it not ideal for deep frying cooking, unlike coconut oil. In addition to that, MCT oil has no taste or smell. You can start off with half a teaspoon and mix it with your favorite drinks or snacks.
You can also use MCT oil in creating your own mayonnaise, dressing your own vegetable salad, or mixing your favorite drinks.
Aside from cooking, MCT oil can also be used as regular coconut oil. It can be used in doing homemade items such as teeth whitener, lip moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, or massage oil blends.
Is MCT Oil Good or Bad for You?
Medical science already proved that MCT oil is good for the body in the appropriate dosages. It is good for the brain and the heart. In addition to that, it is also a great supplement to your favorite snack and drinks.
Keep in mind that too much consumption will not lead to a healthier life, on the contrary, MCT oil remains to be fatty acids and is disadvantageous if taken too much.
The great news is that MCT oil can be an awesome addition to improve your overall health.