MCT oil, or medium-chain triglycerides, is a type of dietary fat derived from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products.
It is popular among people in the paleo and ketogenic community who look to improve their health, lose weight or boost their athletic performance.
The Potential Benefits on Body Composition and Performance
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism compared the metabolism of MCT oil and long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) in healthy adults.
The study found that MCT oil was rapidly absorbed and metabolised, providing a quick source of energy to the body.
MCT oil is unique from other types of oils because it is rapidly absorbed and metabolised, providing energy to the body quickly.
The researchers also observed that MCT oil increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation compared to LCTs.
This suggests that MCT oil may be beneficial for weight management and improving exercise performance.
Reference: St-Onge, M. P., & Jones, P. J. H. (2002). Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(3), 329-332. doi: 10.1093/jn/132.3.329.
Unlike other types of fats, MCTs do not require bile salts or pancreatic enzymes for digestion, which means that they are rapidly broken down and absorbed by the liver.
This process is known as ketogenesis, which is the production of ketones in the liver. Ketones are a type of energy source that the body can use for fuel, and they are particularly useful for people who are following a ketogenic diet.
Furthermore, this quick source of energy does not require insulin for absorption. This means that consuming MCT oil before exercise can help to improve endurance and reduce fatigue, without causing a significant increase in insulin levels.
Another benefit of MCT oil is that it can help to improve energy levels and mental clarity.
MCTs are quickly converted into ketones, which can provide a rapid source of energy for the brain and body. This energy boost can help to improve cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and enhance athletic performance.
In fact, MCTs have been shown to be particularly effective for endurance athletes, as they can help to improve energy levels and reduce the risk of fatigue.
MCT oil is also beneficial for weight loss and weight management.
MCTs have been shown to increase satiety and reduce appetite, which can help when trying to reduce calorie intake.
In addition, MCTs have been shown to increase the rate of fat burning in the body, which can help to reduce body fat and improve body composition.
In addition to these benefits, MCT oil has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
MCTs have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic disease and assist in injury recovery.
They have also been shown to have antimicrobial properties, which can help to reduce the risk of infections and improve gut health.
Overall, MCT oil is definitely worth considering as a dietary supplement.
An Impact on Sweet Cravings, Carbohydrates & Insulin
MCT oil can also have an impact on carbohydrate intake and insulin response.
MCTs are metabolised differently than other types of fats and carbohydrates, they do not require insulin for absorption into the body.
This means that consuming MCT oil can help to control blood sugar levels, as it does not cause a significant increase in insulin secretion.
In fact, studies have shown that consuming MCT oil can actually improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This is because MCTs can help to increase the uptake of glucose into cells, reducing the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. This can lead to improved blood sugar control and reduced insulin resistance over time.
MCT oil can also help to reduce carbohydrate intake. When MCTs are consumed, they are quickly converted into ketones, which can suppress appetite and reduce cravings for carbohydrates. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, as it can help them to stick to their dietary goals and reduce their overall carbohydrate intake.
In conclusion, MCT oil can have a significant impact on carbohydrate intake and insulin response, making it a useful dietary supplement for individuals looking to improve their blood sugar control, reduce carbohydrate intake, and enhance their athletic performance.
Possible Side Effects
Before you go sipping away on a tub of this oil, whilst it has many potential benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider.
1. Some people may experience digestive issues when consuming MCT oil, such as diarrhea, bloating, and stomach cramps. This is because MCTs are rapidly absorbed and metabolised, which can cause gastrointestinal distress in some individuals. It will pass over time, start with 1 tsp per day then increase up to a tbsp etc.
2. MCT oil is very calorie-dense, with 8.3 calories per gram. This means that consuming too much MCT oil can lead to an excess calorie intake, which can contribute to weight gain over time.
3. MCT oil can be quite expensive compared to other dietary supplements, which may make it inaccessible.
4. While MCT oil can provide a quick source of energy, it does not provide any significant nutritional benefits. This means that it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
5. Some people may be allergic to nuts and coconut oil, which is a common source of MCT oil. This can lead to allergic reactions such as hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.
Overall, it is important to consider both the potential benefits and disadvantages of MCT oil before incorporating it into your diet.
While it can be a useful supplement for some individuals, it may not be suitable for everyone.
Food Always Comes First!
MCTs are found in a variety of foods, here's some of the sources:
1. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of MCTs, with about 60% of its fat content consisting of MCTs.
2. Palm kernel oil: Palm kernel oil is another rich source of MCTs, containing about 50% MCTs.
3. Butter contains about 8% MCTs, with the highest concentration found in grass-fed butter.
4. Cheese: Some types of cheese, such as cheddar and gouda, contain small amounts of MCTs.
5. Whole milk: Whole milk contains a small amount of MCTs, but the concentration is higher in full-fat dairy products.
When it comes to how much MCT to consume per day, there is no specific recommendation.
Research suggests that consuming 1-2 tablespoons (around 12-25g) of MCT oil per day can provide many of the potential health benefits associated with MCTs.
It is important to note that MCT oil is very calorie-dense, with 8.3 calories per gram, so it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
A Balanced Fat Intake
MCT oil is a type of saturated fat, as it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids that have a relatively high saturation level.
A balanced fat intake is important for several reasons:
1. Fats are an important source of energy for the body, and they are used to fuel many of the body's metabolic processes.
2. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
3. Fats are involved in the production of hormones, including sex hormones and stress hormones.
4. Fats are a key component of cell membranes, helping to maintain the integrity and function of cells.
5. Fats are essential for brain function, as they are used to build and maintain the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells.
A balanced fat intake should include a variety of different types of fats, including monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats.
A diet that is high in saturated fats has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, so it is important to choose healthy sources of fats and limit intake of saturated and trans fats.
Most males will typically aim for up to 90g of fat per day in total.
Most females will typically aim for up to 70g of fat per day in total.
Please, with all suggestions like this, these are only examples and is not in any kind a prescription for YOUR personal dietary intake of fat.
How to Use It!?
For a pre-workout meal in your coffee: try it on lower intensity, longer duration runs or cardio based work.
For a post workout shake, use it to enhance recovery.
Use it at lunch to stop that 1-2pm slump where we grab more caffiene and a few Custard Creams.
1. Fat Burning: MCT Oil Coffee:
- 1 cup of brewed coffee - black
- 12g MCT oil
- 12g grass-fed butter (I always use Kerrygold)
1. Brew your coffee and pour it into a blender.
2. Add MCT oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, you may also add vanilla extract, and sweetener (if desired) to the blender.
3. Blend on high speed for 30-60 seconds, until the mixture is frothy and well-combined.
4. Pour into a mug and enjoy!
2. Anti-Inflammatory Recovery: Post Workout Smoothie:
- 250ml of unsweetened almond milk
- 100g of frozen berries
- 60g avocado
- 1 tbsp MCT oil
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 25g vanilla protein powder
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth and well-combined.
2. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
3. Beat the Afternoon Slump: MCT Oil Dressing:
Makes 2 servings.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp MCT oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 clove of garlic, very finely grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.
2. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
3. Drizzle over your favorite salad, veggies or grains.
Note: These calculations are based on standard nutritional information for the specified ingredients. Actual nutritional content may vary depending on the specific brands and quantities used in the recipe.
Why No Roasting?
When using MCT oil in cooking or baking, it is important not to heat it above its smoke point (around 160C/320F) as this can cause the oil to break down and lose its nutritional benefits.
Fats, especially plant based fats, are always best eaten in their rawest state (not animal obviously).