From BCAAs and creatine to protein powder and pre-workout, there’s always some holy grail supplement that bodybuilders and fitness fanatics simply can’t live without.
That said, if you’ve recently hopped on the ketogenic bandwagon or are new to living a health-conscious lifestyle, you’ve likely heard some of the hype surrounding a particular oil that’s currently taking the world by storm: MCT oil.
With potential benefits ranging from energy support to muscle growth and just about everything in between, it’s easy to see how MCT oil is quickly becoming a staple in the kitchen — but what exactly is it?
Read on as we explore MCT oil to uncover what it is and how it just might help you on your fitness journey.
What Is MCT Oil Made Of?
First, things first — what exactly is MCT oil, anyway?
Simply put, MCT oil is a highly-concentrated supplement made from a specific type of fatty acid called medium-chain triglycerides — aka, MCT. Unlike short-chain and long-chain acids (like those found in avocado and olive oil), certain types of medium-chain fatty acids, such as caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), and capric acid (C10), don’t need to be digested by the stomach.
You see, when you eat these medium-chain fats, they bypass the gut and go directly to the liver, where they work their magic. Your liver can convert MCTs into ketones, which is beneficial for those following a keto diet.
What Is a Ketone?
Believe it or not, your body can make energy from not just carbohydrates but fat, too.
Carbs (glucose) are the body’s primary and preferred fuel source, but when they are not readily available, such as during a keto diet, the body will convert fat into fuel.
Ketones are the tiny molecules made when the body (the liver, specifically) turns fat into energy, which your body can then use as a fuel source. When your body has a certain level of ketones in the blood, you’ve reached ketosis —the primary goal of eating low carb via the ketogenic diet.
Are MCT Oil and Coconut Oil the Same?
Not exactly. The main difference is that MCT oil is made of only medium-chain fatty acids, whereas coconut oil is made of both medium-chain and long-chain fatty acids.
In other words, MCT oil is a 100% concentrated form of medium-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil, on the other hand, typically contains around 50% medium-chain fatty acids.
That said, MCT oil is made from coconut oil (or palm kernel oil). Through a manufactured process called fractionation, the MCTs naturally found in coconut oil are extracted to create MCT oil.
What Are the Potential Benefits of MCT Oil?
There are a ton of tremendous benefits of MCT oil. Learning more about MCT oil benefits can help you decide whether you want to begin incorporating this supplement into your daily routine, so let’s get into it.
Benefit #1: Energy Support
As mentioned a little earlier, medium-chain fatty acids are broken down in the liver, whereas the stomach metabolizes short-chain fatty acids through regular digestion. This metabolization makes MCTs an easily digestible and potent form of sustainable energy for the body.
Benefit #2: Athletic Performance
In addition to providing health benefits like a quick jolt of energy, MCTs may also support athletic endurance by reducing lactate levels. One study found that a diet rich in MCTs may help support endurance, allowing athletes to increase the duration of time for which they perform high-intensity exercise.
If you’re on a mission to boost your athletic performance for healthier body weight and metabolism, we suggest our Whole Food Meal Replacement Protein. It contains a clean Pasture Fed Blend of proteins, a Complex Carb Blend, and of course, MCT oil to give you quick, long-lasting energy.
Benefit #3: Supports Gut Health
There is some evidence that the fatty acids in MCT oil may help balance bacteria in the gut microbiota. When used with a healthy diet, MCT oil may help improve gut health over time by supporting healthy levels of beneficial bacteria. MCT oil is easier to digest than most fats, such as long-chain triglycerides or LCT, meaning it is an effective way to maintain a healthy gut.
Benefit #4: May Suppress Hunger
MCT oil can boost feelings of satiety and can help support weight loss efforts. The healthy fat is filling, so you can go for more prolonged bouts of time without snacking and get to lunchtime without an energy crash. You see, MCTs raise ketones, and ketones suppress ghrelin (aka your hunger hormone) while increasing cholecystokinin, which in turn makes you feel full and keeps hunger pangs at bay. These increased feelings of satiety may help prevent you from eating excessive calories and may help support healthy cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity.
Benefit #5: May Support Cognitive Function
When the body is low on carbs, it can convert MCT oil into ketones, which, unlike glucose, can cross the blood-brain barrier, where the body then uses it as a quick fuel source for brain cells. In addition to energy, ketones also protect the brain’s neural pathways, which may help reduce the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions.
Experts believe that using MCT oil can support proper memory function. While much more research is needed, it goes without saying the future for MCT oil is looking bright!
What Should I Know Before Taking MCT Oil?
It’s essential to keep in mind that some of the most significant benefits of MCTs are experienced by those following low-carb eating plans like Adkins or the ketogenic diet. Why?
Because your body will always prioritize using carbs (glucose) for energy first, as it is its preferred fuel source. Only when you deplete your glycogen stores will your body begin converting MCT oil into ketones.
That said, fat is an essential part of any healthy diet — low-carb, high-carb, or no-carb. Fat slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood sugar levels in check, and ultimately, prevent energy crashes. Healthy fats like MCTs also provide the building blocks for cellular function and support hormonal balance.
Bottom line, regardless of the diet you follow, MCT oil can provide many benefits as healthy fats are essential in keeping the body functioning at its best.
How Should I Add MCT Oil Into My Diet?
If you’re new to MCT oil, you’ll want to start with minimal doses to avoid digestive upset.
Begin with one teaspoon a day in smoothies or salad dressings and slowly increase your intake to get your body accustomed to the oil. There is no set limit on how much or little MCT oil to take, but try not to get more than four to seven tablespoons in a day.
While no dangerous outcomes have been discovered from using the popular oil, some folks have reported mild side effects, such as nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea when MCT oil is taken too quickly or in substantial doses.
Once your body is used to MCT oil, feel free to play around with different doses taken throughout the day to see what works best for you.
Suppose you’re looking to use the popular supplement to boost athletic performance. In that case, you might take it 30 minutes before hitting the gym to supply your body with sustainable energy to push through your workout. Prefer to use it as an appetite suppressant? Try taking MCT oil first thing in the morning to prevent snacking before lunch.
A Final Word
So, what is MCT oil, you ask?
Simply put, MCT oil is a highly concentrated supplement made from 100 percent medium-chain triglycerides, a type of fatty acid. Unlike other types of fat, MCTs are rapidly absorbed by the body and sent directly to the liver to be used as an immediate energy source. This is why MCTs are such a hot commodity in the keto realm: fat (not carbs) is the primary energy source.
Are you looking for a delicious way to add MCT oil to your diet? Try our Whole Food Meal Replacement — a macro-friendly protein powder that contains a Pasture Fed Blend of Proteins, a Complex Carb Blend, and MCT oil for quick, sustainable energy to power you through the day.
Here at BioHealth, we’re focused on creating exceptional products that not only work but taste great, too. As the original pioneers of the Grass Fed/Pasture-Fed movement, we make clean, effective premium supplements for everyday nutrition. Whether you’re on the hunt for a phenomenal-tasting protein powder or simply searching for clean supplementation, you can count on us to have nothing but the best!