What is MCT oil?
All fats are constructed with chains of carbon atoms, and different types of fat have varying numbers of these atoms. For instance, most fats in the average diet, including coconut oil are long-chain fatty acids which are made up of 13 to 21 carbon atoms. On the other end of the spectrum are short-chain fatty acids consisting of only 6 or fewer.
Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT, are right in the middle and contain 6-12 carbon atoms.
MCT oil is a dietary supplement made up of fats extracted from various sources including coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products. These fats are combined to form the shorter carbon chains that are easier for the body to digest.
MCTs are also different from long-chain fatty acids in that they take a more direct route as they are digested in the body. They go straight from the gut to the liver which means that they can immediately be used as energy.
This supplement can also be converted in the liver into ketones which are substances that are produced when the body begins breaking down large amounts of fat. They are helpful because they can be used by the brain for energy instead of typical sources like glucose or sugar. This process, where calories are used as energy right away is why many people support the ketogenic diet as an effective weight-loss tool.
To put it simply, medium-chain triglycerides are a particular type of fat found in various products such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil. MCT oil is a flavorless, odorless, clear liquid supplement made from these pure fats without any added ingredients.
Why eat MCT Oil?
Though the science regarding the benefits of MCT oil is still in its early stages, there are studies available that show its potential as a weight loss toll and metabolism booster. Obviously, nothing can cause instantaneous weight loss, and it will certainly have no effect if you continue in a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. However, when combined with a whole foods diet and regular exercise, MCT oil can give your metabolism the boost that it needs to start burning off those extra pounds.
This is perhaps due to the higher burn rate of medium-chain triglycerides, meaning your body can metabolize the fat quickly and use it as energy immediately instead of storing it. This study compared MCT oil and olive oil in a long term weight-loss program and determined, “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.”
One study showed that MCT oil was more helpful in promoting feelings of fullness than coconut oil. This leads to smaller portion sizes and better control regarding snacking and unhealthy food choices.
There are also limited studies linking the use of MCT oil to energy boosts and increased endurance in recreational athletes and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and Altzheimers. More research is needed to better understand the effects of MCT oil on the body; however, initial studies are promising and indicate MCT oil could be the newest superfood to keep an eye on.
How to get more MCT oil in your diet
Because MCT oil is more of a liquid than an actual oil, it has an extremely low smoke point and should not be used for cooking. Consume MCT without heating in various dishes such as salad dressings, bulletproof coffee, smoothies, or other drinks. Since is it tasteless and odorless, it is easy to slip into a number of dishes without changing the flavor. Start with only ½ a tablespoon per day to give your digestive system time to adjust and slowly increase the dosage. Most recommended serving sizes are 1-3 tablespoons per day.