You’ve probably heard whispers about MCT oil as a fat-burning, metabolism-revving superfood. Here, we unpack the rumours and explain exactly what MCT is, the potential benefits, how to use MCT oil, and whether you should add it to your diet.
MCT oil was popularized by Dave Asprey who mixed it into his coffee to make his fat-burning concoction that he calls Bullet-Proof Coffee.
What is MCT Oil? How Does It Aid Weight Loss?
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride. It’s a high-quality saturated fatty acid, that comes mainly from coconut oil and it’s a great fuel for not only your body but also your brain.
It is found in foods and consisted of a unique chemical structure that is metabolised differently compared to other fats. Usually, when you eat fat from other sources, like let’s say vegetable oils, the fats go from your gut to your lymphatic system, and then into your circulation where they can be taken up by your fat cells and stored as future energy.
But MCTs go directly from your gut to your liver, which burns them up for immediate energy. The fats in this oil can easily be converted into ketone to produce energy in our body and they don’t get stored in our body like other fats.
MCT oil best works with the intermittent and keto diet showing effective results.
What Is Pure MCT Made Of?
MCT is a man-made saturated fatty acid.
Why not just coconut or just palm?
Because plain palm and plain coconut contain longer-chain triglycerides as well.
Why is medium better than long chain?
1.MCTs (6 to 8 carbon molecules) are digested more rapidly, and are considered a source of clean fuel for the body and brain, meaning they will give your body the energy it needs without filling it with a bunch of stuff it doesn’t-such as added sugar and processed ingredients. Long chains (10 to 12 carbon molecules) on the other hand, take longer to metabolize and get stored as fat in the process.
2.MCTs, are absorbed intact, transported to the liver intact, and are preferentially available for hepatic mitochondrial β-oxidation (i.e., energy production). While more of the slow-burning longer-chain fats like olive oil, butter, beef fat, palm oil, and coconut oil get stored.
This digestion difference could be why Mark Hyman, M.D., calls MCT oil “the secret fat that makes you thin.”
MCT vs. Coconut Oil
1.While MCT is largely derived from coconut, coconut oil doesn’t contain the same metabolic properties as MCT does; coconut oil comprises about 60% MCTs while pure MCT is 100%.
2.It also contains a large percentage of lauric acid (C12), which isn’t absorbed efficiently, unlike caprylic and capric acid. Some studies suggest that lauric acid behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid, which means it requires digestion in the liver before being utilised.
The Benefits of MCT Oil (Fat Loss & Health)
When it comes to weight loss, MCT seems to be the fat that helps you lose fat. It has many properties that make it a great weight loss aid. Let’s explore the best benefits:
1. Thermogenesis—MCTs appear to induce thermogenesis—the generation of heat in the body, which means they could help burn calories, even at rest.
2. Increased Energy Production—Since MCTs are readily oxidized in the liver, they provide a rapid energy source in the form of fat and ketones.
3. Rarely stored as fat—Because of the unique way they’re metabolized, MCTs are rarely stored as fat; they are oxidized to a greater extent than LCTs, which means they have less opportunity for deposition into adipose tissue.
4. Regulate appetite—Fats have always been known to be satiating because they’re more energy-dense and take longer to digest than carbs. Several studies have found that MCTs increase satiety more than LCTs, because of the thermal and oxidative pathways that enhance thermogenesis and satiety, thereby reducing energy intake.
5. Controls Blood Sugar—MCT oil efficiently decreases insulin resistance in those with diabetes, hence facilitating the body to process glucose and other sugars completely. This, in turn, prevents sudden spikes in blood glucose levels, prevents other complications like obesity and maintains blood sugar within the normal range.
6. Augments immunity—The unique fatty acids present in MCT oils derived from coconut oil possess tremendous antibacterial and antifungal potential. MCT oil hence shields the body from various infectious diseases by uplifting its inherent immune system defences and combating harmful substances.
How to use MCT Oil
Pure MCT oil is a clear, flavourless liquid that should be consumed plain without heating it. It’s unrefined, so it has a low smoke point and does not respond well to heat. Cooking is not one of the MCT oil uses.
So how can you use MCT oil?
Most commonly, you can add plain oil to:
• Salad dressing
It’s easy to slip into a meal or drink without much work, as a serving size usually ranges between just half a tablespoon to up to 3 tablespoons.
Most 100 per cent MCT oils on the market recommend starting with half a tablespoon to see how your digestive system responds. Too much too fast could lead to digestive distress.
And don’t forget that MCT is still a liquid fat that’s calorically dense-1 tablespoon comes in at 100 calories.
Solid coconut oil, which is high in MCTs, can be used in cooking and may be used to replace olive oil or other cooking oils.
Risks and considerations
While there are multiple benefits of MCT oil, too much of it in the diet can lead to fat build-up in the liver, which can be dangerous.
It is important to remember that when a person consumes these, they are consuming fats. Taking MCT oil adds extra fats and calories to a person’s diet. As such, excessive use of MCT oil may not be beneficial and could lead a person to gain weight.
You also have to remember that if you’ve never taken MCT before, too large a dose can cause some pretty unpleasant GI effects like abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhoea, so it’s always best to start with one teaspoon and work your way up to the desired amount.