MCT as the name suggests stands for Medium-chain Triglycerides. Simply put, MCT oil is a dietary supplement that is made up of MCT fats, which are fats that can be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products.
The most common use for MCT oil nowadays, is in weight loss or as an endurance booster for workouts. It is also regarded as a mental booster as it is believed to improve the ability to think as well as memory improvement.
Distinction of MCTs from other fats.
Fats are composed of carbon atoms. Most fats in a person’s diet are long-chain fatty acids. These types of fats are composed of 13 to 21 carbon atoms.
On the other hand, short-chain fatty acids are made up of 6 or fewer carbon atoms.
In this regard, MCTs are medium-chain triglycerides and falls between the other two types. They are composed of 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
Due to this composition, MCT oils are processed by the body in a different way in contrast to other fats. Unlike other fats, MCTs go straight from the gut to the liver where they are broken down into ketones. Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down fat and can be used as source of energy instead of glucose or sugar.
Thus, the calories in MCTs are used straightaway and are less likely stored as fat by the body. This is the basis of ketogenic diet, which is popularly considered as an effective way to lose weight.
Four different types of MCTs exist, of which caprylic and capric acid are most commonly used for MCT oil. Here are 7 science-backed benefits you can get from adding MCT oil to your diet.
1. Promotes weight loss in various ways
MCT oil may support weight loss by increasing fullness, fat loss, energy burning, ketone production and by improving gut environment as explained below.
MCT oil has been shown to increase the release of two hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body: peptide YY and leptin. Studies have shown that people taking MCT oil as part of their breakfast ate less food for lunch. Also additionally, including MCT oil in diet has shown to reduce weight and waist circumference.
Including MCT oil in your diet is one way to help become a metabolic fat burner, or more commonly known as being in a state of ketosis. The secret to a healthy ketogenic diet is to cut carbs and increase the intake of healthy fats like MCT.
Since MCT oil is easily absorbed, it quickly boosts energy and increases ketones. MCTs are so powerful they can help maintain and increase ketosis even when carb intake is higher. As a result MCT oil is an instant source of energy making it unnecessary for the body to store fat.
Lastly, MCT oil can help optimize the growth of good bacteria and support the gut lining, which could also help you lose weight.
2. Instant Source of Energy That Can Also Be Used to Fuel Your Brain.
MCT oil has been known as a super fuel supplement due to its very quick absorption and metabolism. Due to their shorter chain length, MCTs travel straight from the gut to the liver and do not require bile to break down like longer-chain fats do. In the liver, the fats are broken down to be either used as fuel or stored as body fat. Since MCTs easily enter your cells without being broken down, they can be used as an immediate source of energy. When you’re on a ketogenic diet, MCTs can also be converted into ketones in the liver. These ketones can pass through your blood-brain barrier, making them a convenient source of energy for your brain cells.
3. Better Brain and memory function.
Research has shown that MCT oil can improve memory and overall brain health of people with problems like brain fog. It can even help people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
The reviewers also note that ketosis has a slight beneficial effect on thinking ability for those with Alzheimer’s. Ketosis is when the brain uses ketones for energy instead of glucose.
More research is needed to say with certainty that MCTs or MCT oil can improve the brain and memory function. That said, initial research is promising, and there is growing interest in the use of MCTs in this area.
4. Contains Powerful Fatty Acids That Fight Yeast and Bacterial Growth.
MCT oil being composed of fatty acids that reduce the growth of yeast and bacteria have been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal effects.
Coconut oil, which contains a large amount of MCTs, has been shown to reduce the growth of Candida albicans by 25%. This is a common yeast that can cause thrush and various skin infections.
A test-tube study also showed that coconut oil reduced the growth of a disease-causing bacteria called Clostridium difficile. Coconut oil’s ability to reduce yeast and bacterial growth may be due to the caprylic, capric and lauric acid in MCTs.
MCTs themselves have also been shown to suppress the growth of a widespread infectious fungus in hospitals by up to 50%.
However, note that most of the research on MCTs and immune support has been conducted via test-tube or animal studies. High-quality human studies are needed before stronger conclusions can be made.
5. Reduce Risk Factors for Heart Disease, Such as Weight and Cholesterol.
Heart disease is a very common and growing problem in today’s society.
Various factors like blood pressure, being overweight and cholesterol increases the risks of heart diseases.
MCT oil has been shown to support weight and fat loss. This may, in turn, help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that taking MCT oil combined with phytosterols and flaxseed oil for 29 days reduced total cholesterol by 12.5%. However, when olive oil was used instead, the reduction was only 4.7%.
The same study also found better reductions in LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or “bad” cholesterol when the MCT oil mixture was added to their diet .
Moreover, MCT oil can also increase the production of heart-protective HDL or “good” cholesterol.
6. Help Control Blood Sugar Levels and Support Diabetes Management.
MCT oil may also have benefits for those with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is harder to manage because most people with such diabetes are overweight. However, since MCT oils have shown to reduce fat and promote weight loss, it potentially helps in supporting diabetes management.
Due to all these health benefits, the popularity and consumption of MCT oil has been increasing.
Taking MCT oil could have many benefits and very few risks.
At the end of the day, MCT oil is a convenient way to take advantage of all the health benefits MCTs have to offer.