Dr Mark Hyman calls MCT oil “the secret fat that makes you thin”. So what is MCT oil and how is it different from coconut oil?
Coconut oil is mainly made up of the following 4 fats:
- C6 – Caproic Acid – 6 carbon atoms in the chain
- C8 – Caprylic Acid – 8 carbon atoms in the chain
- C10 – Capric Acid – 10 carbon atoms in the chain
- C12 – Lauric Acid – 12 carbon atoms in the chain
These fats are known as Medium Chain Triglycerides or MCTs due to their medium chain length (the number of carbon atoms in the chain).
The unique property of MCTs is that they do not need to be metabolized by the liver.
- C8 (caprylic acid) provides the fastest rise in energy and focus. Your liver does not need to process C8 MCT oil, and it only takes 3 steps for your body to turn it into ATP, the cellular fuel you use.
- C10 (capric acid) doesn’t break down into ketones as quickly as pure C8, but C10 is more affordable and still works.
Coconut oil also contains some stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), and linoleic acid (C18:2).
Benefits of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
- Easier to digest
- Not readily stored as fat
- Are anti-microbial and anti-fungal
- Smaller in size, allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy
- Immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat
What will you find in this article?
MCT oils should contain either C8, which is the best MCT for brain function, or a mixture of C8 and C10.
The brand I buy – KetoSource Pure C8 MCT Oil contains 99.8% C8.
MCT Oils should not contain C6 as this tastes bad and causes gastric upset.
C12 (lauric acid) is not a true MCT in that it needs to be processed by the liver before it provides energy to the body. It requires a pit stop in the liver rather than getting immediately converted into energy like the other MCTs. It does not create energy in the brain the way that true MCTs do.
You can get abundant C12 by just eating a tablespoon or two of coconut oil; there is no benefit to refining it and buying it separately.
So to sum it up – you want to look for oil that contains either just C8, or a mixture of C8 and C10.
The promised benefits of C8 products are many. They include increased blood ketone levels and associated reduction in blood glucose levels, increased energy, reduced body-fat, antimicrobial activity and even reduced risk of certain metabolic diseases.
Coconut oil has benefits beyond those that come from the MCT fats so it is a great addition to your diet and MCT oil should not replace the use of coconut oil.
You also cannot cook with MCT oil as it is not heat stable, whereas coconut oil is an excellent cooking fat.
Our favourite Coconut Oil is RealFoodSource Certified Organic Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil which is the best price we have found (less than £10 for a 1 litre/1000ml tub when you buy from Amazon).
Which MCT Oil to Choose?
Don’t be tempted by a cheap MCT oil! You are better off with straight coconut oil because cheap MCT oils are renowned for causing gastrointestinal distress (usually diarrhoea).
If you are willing to invest in a good quality MCT oil, here are 4 products I considered & researched when I was choosing an MCT oil:
- My top choice and the brand I personally use is KetoSource Pure C8 MCT Oil – this product is 99% C8 which is the most beneficial MCT for brain function. I like this product because the company is based in the UK and that always influences my buying decisions. They also have excellent product transparency. You can read more detail about why I rate this product below.
- Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil – this product claims to be pure C8, with a price tag similar to the KetoPerformance brand.
- Bulletproof XCT Oil – this product contains both C8 and C10. This oil is cheaper than the KetoPerformance and Brain Octane oils, reflecting the lower percentage of C8.
- Love Life Supplements Primal Energy MCT Oil – this oil contains about 50/50 C8 and C10 and is a similar price to the XCT Oil.
Why I Use KetoSource Pure C8 MCT Oil
- BOOSTS KETONES: Very high purity source of C8 MCT. C8 MCT is the only MCT that increases blood ketones effectively.
- EASILY DIGESTED: Customer feedback shows that less people experience the typical upset stomach seen with lower purity MCT oils. The typical indigestion, loose stools and stomach aches caused by MCT oils should not occur.
- NON-GMO & PALEO FRIENDLY: This all-natural C8 MCT Oil is suitable for consumption in all diets and is completely non-allergenic. It is free of wheat, milk, eggs, peanut and shellfish and is entirely sourced from non-GMO coconut and sustainable certified palm.
- CLEAN KETONE ENERGY: Boosts energy levels by giving the body a more efficiently metabolised ketone fuel source. This is clean energy. It does not raise blood glucose and has a much lower insulin response than other fuels (glucose, sugar, protein etc.) and even similar foods (e.g. coconut oil, other MCT oils with C10 and C12 MCTs). Finally, ketone energy sustains your energy levels because it lasts longer than glucose (i.e. up to 5 hours).
- EASY FOR ANY DIET: C8 MCT Oil is odorless, tasteless and can be substituted with traditional oils. Easy to mix in protein shakes, bulletproof coffee, or any other types of beverages for sustained energy.
The Pick-Me-Up of Coffee without the Negative Side Effects!
If you don’t like to drink caffeine in the afternoons, but need a pick me up, make a decaf coffee using Decadent Decaf Coffee Co’s Swiss Water Decaf Espresso Beans and blend with MCT oil and you will get a hit similar to that from caffeine but without the jitters.
MCT oil is flavourless so you can also add to smoothies or salad dressings, or simply drizzle over food before serving.
How to Make Dairy-Free, Ketogenic MCT Oil Bulletproof Coffee Pods
Ingredients for the MCT Oil Coffee Pods:
- Over a pan of simmering water place a glass bowl. Add the cocoa butter and melt.
- Once the cocoa butter has melted add the coconut oil and MCT oil. Stir until the coconut oil has also melted and everything is thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat.
- Place the silicone mould tray on top of a board so that you don’t spill the mixture while you are transferring it to the freezer.
- Transfer the mixture of fats to a jug for easier pouring, and then pour into the silicone mould.
- Place in the freezer for 30 minutes until the fats have re-solidified. Pop the pods out of the mould and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
To make the MCT Oil Bulletproof Coffee:
- Add 1 MCT oil pod to a mug.
- Pour over your hot coffee. The MCT oil pod should melt.
- Froth the coffee in a blender or with a milk frother to mix in and emulsify the fats. Drink and enjoy!
What are the Benefits of Taking MCT Oil?
- MCTs can lead to improved cognitive function (better brain health)
- MCTs can provide a source of steady energy
- MCTs can help with weight management
While everyone knows about the health benefits of coconut oil, most people have never heard of MCTs. MCTS, or, to give them their full name, medium-chain triglycerides are a kind of saturated fatty acid with a number of known health benefits. While coconut oil is a well-known source of medium chain triglycerides, MCT oils, which are a more concentrated form have started to increase in popularity.
Many people eating the Standard Western Diet do not get enough MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids), primarily because they believe that every type of saturated fat is harmful. However evidence has shown that MCT oils should be consumed ideally on a daily basis.
While coconut oil is a good source of MCTs, they are also found in butter, cheese, whole milk, yoghurt and palm oil.
Why Are MCT Oils Special?
MCTs are easily digested and are directly sent to the liver, producing a thermogenic effect and potentially altering the metabolism for the better. It is believed that MCTs are burned as fuel in the body rather than being stored in the body as fat.
Saturated fats and MCTs reduce risks associated with eating a low fat diet and also help to improve the environment inside the gut as they can combat harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. As MCTs have antioxidant properties they have impressive anti-inflammatory benefits which mean they can be used in the treatment of a number of conditions.
The Nutrition Facts of MCT Oils
There are a number of kinds of MCT oil, and some are probably better than others. Four types of MCTs exist: Caprylic, Caprioc, Lauric and Capric acids. In general, the fewer carbons had by the acid, the quicker the human body is able to turn those fatty acids to usable energy as ketones. Ketones are produced in the body when fat is being burned to produce energy rather than glucose.
All of the MCT varieties are beneficial for health, especially for anyone who struggles to digest other kinds of fat. This includes people who suffer from digestive problems and malabsorption disorders such as gallbladder infections, leaky gut and Crohn’s Disease.
The Benefits Of MCTs
MCTs are known to help in:
- Healthy weight maintenance
- Reducing the amount of fat stored in the body
- Raising metabolic rate
- Boosting energy levels
- Improving cognitive function
- Improving digestion
- Balancing hormone levels
- Improving mood
- Fighting viruses and bacterial infections
- Absorbing fat-soluble nutrients in foods
How Can MCT Oil Help Me?
There are many health benefits linked to MCT oil including:
MCT oils have a positive effect on burning of fat inside the body by boosting metabolic rate whilst also helping to make dieters feel full so that they eat less. As they help in the production of ketones, they can be useful in lowering weight or maintaining a healthy body weight.
MCTs may be able to prevent metabolic syndrome from developing – a name given to several conditions including high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and dyslipidemia. MCTs may decrease incidences of cardiovascular disease by reducing obesity levels.
Mood and Energy
A regular supply of fatty acids is essential to allow clear thinking and effective cognitive function, especially as we age. MCTs improve memory problems and can help in treating conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease as well as improving gut health.
MCT oils can help to balance bacteria inside the gut helping to improve digestive problems and help in the absorption of minerals and vitamins from foods. MCTs may assist in killing pathogenic strains, bacteria and viruses which cause constipation, food poisoning, stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Antiviral, Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties
MCTs are known to be natural yet powerful antibiotics which can balance gut bacteria. Since antibiotic resistance is becoming more common, it is vital that we have some natural ways in which harmful bacteria can be destroyed and straphylococcus and neisseria as well as some other kinds of bacteria which cause candida, STDs and ulcers can be killed by MCTs with no negative effects on good bacteria.
Able to Withstand Cooking at High Heat
MCT oils can be used for cooking at high temperatures since they do not oxidise easily from heat. They can therefore be used in grilling, stir frying, sautéing and baking without becoming rancid.
What Are the Side Effects of MCT Oil?
MCT Oil can cause gastric upset – nausea, diarrhoea etc. This is why we recommend KetoSource Pure C8 MCT Oil as pure C8 oils are less likely to cause any digestive problems. It is the C6 found in cheaper oils that will cause problems.
Start out slow with MCT Oil – add 1 tsp. initially to coffee or smoothies and gradually build up the quantity over a period of a couple of weeks.
Using MCT Oil In Cooking
There are many people who believe in consuming a daily dose of MCT oils in the same way as they would take a supplement, either on a spoon or mixed with a drink. As it has no smell or taste, this is a good way of boosting the amount you consume quickly, however you should avoid taking too much – starting with just half a teaspoon is a good idea before working up to a tablespoon full.
While bulletproof coffee is one way of consuming MCT oil, there are other more innovative ways to boost your intake. Some of the best ways include:
- MCT oil mayonnaise – add MCT oil to egg yolks, lime juice, salt and extra virgin olive oil and blend.
- Salad dressings – mix raw honey and Dijon mustard with MCT oil and add some herbs
- MCT smoothies – add MCT oils to shakes, yoghurt or smoothies
- Baked goods – instead of using coconut oil in baked goods, switch to MCT oil instead
Can MCT Oil Be Used in Baking?
MCT Oil is expensive, so stick to coconut oil for baking.
Additional Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is well known for its benefits for the hair and skin and MCT oil is also ideal for these purposes. It can also be used as a facial and body moisturiser, to whiten teeth at home, as an effective sun screen, to condition the hair, as a soothing facial mask, as part of a salt scrub or shaving cream, meaning that it is a fantastic multi-purpose product which should be included as part of a healthy diet. With no negative side effects, it is ideal for everyone to consume every day and could have massive positive health benefits.
Research Studies Using MCT Oil
- Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of MCT oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. Clinical studies have shown that consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCTs) leads to greater energy expenditure than does consumption of long-chain triacylglycerols. Such studies suggest that MCT consumption may be useful for weight management. Consumption of MCT oil as part of a weight-loss plan improves weight loss compared with olive oil and can thus be successfully included in a weight-loss diet. Small changes in the quality of fat intake can therefore be useful to enhance weight loss.
- 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. Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) consumption has been shown to increase energy expenditure (EE) and lead to greater losses of the adipose tissue in animals and humans. The objective of this research was to examine the relationship between body composition and thermogenic responsiveness to MCT treatment.
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