The Skinny on MCT Oil & The Science-Backed BenefitsArticle posted in: Nutrition
Do just a little research and you’re sure to find recommendations for MCT oil. From appetite control and energy boosts to long-term benefits like managing neurological and brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, more and more people are singing MCT oil’s praises and adding remedies to its name. But what exactly is MCT oil? And what does science say about its impact on your health?
Read on to find out the skinny on MCT oil and its benefits:
What is it?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in certain oils and dairy products. Due to their shorter length, MCTs are more easily digested by the body compared to longer-chain fatty acids.
There are four different types of MCTs: Caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). MCT oil is a supplement made of these medium-length chains of fats. While MCT oil may contain a combination of each of the four types of MCT, caprylic and capric acid are most commonly used in MCT oil supplements.
What it Offers…
- Energy. And quickly. According to Harvard Healthy, this is all because of those MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides: Fatty acids with shorter chemical structures. As soon as MCTs reach the gut they’re sent to the liver where fats are broken down for energy or storage. MCTs can easily enter cells without being broken down so they become instant energy for your body. If you’re following a keto-friendly diet, MCTs are also quickly converted into ketones within the liver and these ketones are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to provide an energy source for your brain. Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) on the other hand (like those found in olive oil, avocado, fish and meat) take longer to metabolize for energy and are stored until the body, in absence of carbs or other fuels, must metabolize them for energy.
- Quick energy may lead to A Better Workout. In an April 2009 study published in the Nutritional Journal of Science and Vitaminology, researchers found that cyclists who ate two teaspoons of MCT oil with food before exercising were able to work out longer at a higher intensity and had less lactic acid buildup which leads to fatigue, muscle pain or nausea. The study also suggested that the oil may help you burn more fat for energy, but research remains mixed on the definites of it’s benefits.
- When you burn fat, you Lose Weight. And diets high in MCTs may be marginally more effective in stimulating weight loss than diets rich in LCTs according to findings published in Obesity in September 2012 and Obesity Research in March 2003. Part of that reason may stem from the fact that MCT oil has 10 percent fewer calories than LCTs, claims Healthline.
- MCT oil has been shown to release hormones that promote the Feeling of Fullness: Peptide YY and leptin. In a 2017 study published in Physiology & Behavior, participants ate coconut oil and MCT oil as part of their daily breakfast. Those who consumed MCT oil not only ate less food for lunch but also had a lower rise in triglycerides and glucose, which may also attribute to a feeling of fullness.
- Even the gut is impacted in a positive way by MCT oil, helping to optimize growth of good bacteria and prevent obesity. Happy gut, happy body, says Healthline.
What it’s Not…
- A panacea for Alzheimer’s, autism and epilepsy. While a handful of studies found MCT oil might improve a person’s ability to think and fight the effects of some memory-related conditions, it’s unclear whether the benefits stem from a ketogenic diet or MCTs themselves. More research is needed.
- Low calorie. One tablespoon contains about 100 calories, according to Women’s Health, so be careful not to overdo it. MCTs are a form of saturated fat. MCT oil supplements must be counted as a Healthy Fat, not consumed in addition to your daily allotment.
- Created equally. How do you know which types of MCTs are best? It is important to understand what types of MCTs are in the product you are choosing. Most studies looking at the benefits of MCTs have used caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) MCTs.
*Always speak to your doctor before trying a new supplement.