Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) have recently attracted a lot of attention for their exceptional health benefits. These compounds have secured an essential place in a lot of diets such as the keto diet.
There are numerous ways that MCT oil benefits keto. Despite being an oil, it is easily digested and helps enhance nutrient absorption. MCT oil consists of unique fats that can boost exercise performance and may enhance weight loss, both of which help you achieve the effects of a ketogenic diet faster.
Adding this oil to the keto diet also can increase the ketone production and promote mental well-being to help you remain motivated throughout your keto journey.
How does MCT oil possess so many different benefits? Are these claims backed by science? This comprehensive article will help you understand the benefits of MCT oil.
8 Science-Based Benefits of MCT Oil for Keto
1. MCT Oil is Easily Digested
Most of the fatty acids you consume require bile salts in order to break down and get absorbed in the body. However, MCT oil is easily digested and does not need the presence or utilization of bile. (Bile is a greenish liquid produced by the liver via an energy-dependent process and stored in the gall bladder.)
Because MCT oil does not need bile salts to emulsify it, this oil is more easily absorbed and provides the user with instant bouts of energy. This instant energy is particularly helpful for people following the keto diet.
MCT oil can help replenish the energy levels of keto dieters especially during the initial days when their bodies are struggling to find an alternate source of energy. Additionally, if you are malnourished or suffering from a malabsorption syndrome such as cystic fibrosis, MCT oil can make keto diet a lot easier for you.
2. MCT Oil Can Help Increase Nutrient Absorption
One of the biggest side effects of the keto diet is an imbalance in the nutrient profile. Whenever you eliminate a broad range of food items from your daily diet plan, it is natural to get a little malnourished. For some people, this step may lead to nutrient deficiencies.
It is generally stressful to transition to the keto diet. You are drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake which includes many foods that are dense sources of nutrients required for proper functioning of mind and body.
Magnesium is a common micronutrient that gets depleted during the keto diet. It is a part of more than 300 different biochemical processes and plays a crucial role in energy production, synthesis of proteins, and fatty acid formation.
Calcium is another important micronutrient that often gets depleted during the keto diet. This mineral is not only important for maintaining the strength of bones but also improves the functioning of your heart, muscles, and nerves.
Consuming MCT oil can help prevent these deficiencies during your keto journey.
Research has proven that MCTs can boost the absorption of various nutrients such as magnesium and calcium. One study used three different groups of infants to assess the absorption of calcium and magnesium in their bodies. The results concluded that the group that received MCT oil absorbed more calcium and magnesium compared to the control group.
The same group was also found to exhibit marked improvements in the absorption of nitrogen. Moreover, their amino acid sparing property was also found to be increased. This means that the body may be able to build more lean tissue and preserve the already existing protein mass thanks to MCT oil.
3. MCT Oil May Control Blood Sugar
The biggest determinant of a keto diet is the number of carbohydrates and glucose present in your body. The aim of this diet is to lower the blood glucose level to an extent that your body is forced to break down fats for energy. Adding MCT oil to your daily routine can help boost this effect.
Studies have indicated that MCT oil may have the power to lower blood sugar levels. This oil has a natural sugar-stabilizing property that not only helps speed up the process of ketosis but also provides additional health benefits such as a reduction in inflammation and an improvement in brain function.
Taking a single dose of MCT oil via the oral route may cause a slight drop in your blood sugar level. This occurs due to a reduction in the glucose output coming from the liver.
4. MCT Oil Can Help With Weight Loss
There are different reasons why MCT oil can help you lose weight on a keto diet.
Consumption of MCT oil has been associated with the release of two types of hormones: leptin and peptide YY. Both of these hormones control hunger and help promote the feeling of satiety. Thus MCT oil can help control your daily food intake and prevent overeating.
Research has even found this oil to be better than coconut oil in improving satiety. One particular study indicated that people who consume two tablespoons of MCT oil every morning eat less food for lunch compared to those using coconut oil.
The same study also found that MCT oil can slow down the increase in the blood levels of glucose and triglycerides after a meal which ultimately controls the feeling of fullness.
Using MCT oil has been strongly correlated with a reduced waist circumference and body weight which are the main aims of a ketogenic diet. Regular usage of this oil can even help prevent obesity.
Limiting your caloric intake and burning more calories are two important principles of a keto diet. MCT oil aids in achieving these goals as it contains 10% fewer calories than other long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. This makes it a highly keto-friendly food that offers a broad range of benefits while controlling your calorie intake.
MCT oil is an instant source of energy for the body. Consuming it makes it unnecessary to store any body fat which leads to weight loss. MCT oil also optimizes the growth of good bacteria in your gut which helps you lose weight.
Adding MCT oil to your daily keto regimen may help you lose weight faster without adding a lot of calories.
5. MCT Oil May Improve Athletic Performance
MCT oil is an extremely useful substance that gets rapidly absorbed into your body to release cellular energy. This makes it a perfect remedy for anyone who is wishing to combine their keto diet with any type of physical activity.
Using this oil before and after a workout session can boost energy and stamina and allow you to burn more calories. In fact, this oil may provide the best type of fat to use right before and up to two hours after exercise for added weight loss. The ability of MCT oil to rebuild damaged muscle and prevent their catabolic breakdown also helps keto dieters burn off their fat stores without losing lean mass.
6. MCT Oil Can Help Control Appetite
The reason why most of the people fail at a keto diet is they are unable to control their appetite, and they soon succumb to their sugar cravings. For many of these people, MCT oil acts like the magic potion that helps keep them feeling full for longer periods of time.
Different studies have claimed that MCT oil is better at controlling appetite than long-chain triglycerides. By controlling your appetite in an efficient way, MCT oil can help decrease your calorie consumption. MCT oil accomplishes this effect by increasing the production of ketones.
Many studies support these claims associated with MCT oil. One study investigated the effects of three different types of diet on six healthy males. These included low, medium, and high MCT diets. The authors of this study found that the participants consuming a high MCT diet had a low caloric consumption when compared to the rest.
7. MCT Oil Can Increase Ketone Levels in Blood
The basic reason why a ketogenic diet works are the induction of ketosis: a process in which fats are burned to release ketones. MCT oil is said to increase this process of ketone production. This oil helps the body fully benefit from this diet.
To understand how MCT oil can help increase the levels of ketones in blood, you must explore the fat in your body. There are three different factors that decide whether your body should store a certain type of fat or use it to create ketones: the length of its fatty acids, its saturation, and the total energy need of the body.
The fatty acids in MCT have 8 to 12 carbon atoms compared to the LCTs found in foods like avocados which have at least 14 atoms of carbon. Additionally, MCTs have a lower degree of saturation compared to the LCTs. This means you are more likely to burn MCTs and release ketones instead of storing them in the form of adipose tissue.
Another important fact to note is that under usual circumstances, interrupting the carnitine transporter from working inside the mitochondria of your body cells decreases the production of ketones. Using MCT oil can, however, increase this production despite the low carnitine levels because they do not require its presence.
In addition to mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, the fatty acids present in MCT oil can also be oxidized in other cell organelles, like the peroxisomes.
Using MCT oil can essentially increase the production of ketone bodies in your blood. An increase in ketones can lead to a state of ketosis at a much faster rate and help you reap all the benefits of the keto diet as soon as possible.
8. MCT Oil Can Help Boost Mental Clarity
A lot of keto dieters consume MCT oil to improve their cognitive performances. MCT oil can help protect the brain from oxidative stress which may otherwise lead to an age-related decline of cognition. Because your brain is more likely to use ketones as a fuel than carbs, MCT oil may also contribute to improved brain health.
Many people are familiar with hypoglycemia–a state in which your body lacks glucose. Hypoglycemia is often precipitated by the keto diet since it requires you to drastically reduce your sugar intake. To reduce the chances of developing hypoglycemia during the initial days of a keto diet, MCT oil can be added to your daily meal plans.
Studies have shown that MCTs can help preserve your mental functioning and protect it from the dangers of hypoglycemic states. Taking MCT oil, in the long run, can also cause an increase in the network connections within your brain.
Using MCT Oil for Keto
You may use MCT oil to enhance your physical and mental energy or speed up the process of ketosis. Keto dieters may also use it to fight off certain side effects such as the keto flu.
To obtain all these benefits, consume one teaspoon of this oil in the morning followed by an equal dose in the afternoon. This will help you maintain a state of ketosis throughout the entire day.
Consider following these tips to help:
- When combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting, try to consume MCT oil just before you start your fast. This will provide your body with high-quality fats to produce ketones and help reduce your appetite during the fast.
- If you are unable to consume MCT oil directly, use it as an ingredient in your daily keto meals. Add it to smoothies, soups, salads, coffee, and tea. Sprinkle it over any dish to increase its fatty content.
Using MCT oil may cause nausea in certain people due to its highly-concentrated ingredients. To avoid this side effect, start with small quantities of MCT oil and gradually increase the dose.
Consume half a teaspoon of this oil for several days, and increase the dose until it reaches up to three tablespoons daily. Do not consume more than three tablespoons of this oil every day to avoid side effects.
MCT oil and the keto diet go hand in hand. MCT oil is an excellent way to help boost the production of ketones and possibly the best source to provide instant energy for both the body and the brain. Keto dieters love it because it is a great source of healthy fats that your body easily converts to ketones.
MCT oil is a powerful weight-loss aid and an appetite suppressant, possibly more powerful than coconut oil. It is an extremely beneficial food that can be easily added to your daily keto meals.
What is the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil?
MCT oil is actually a much-refined derivate of coconut oil. The main difference between these two types of oil is their MCT content. Coconut oil contains 55% MCTs whereas pure MCT oil is 100% MCTs.
What is MCT oil made up of?
MCT oil consists of two different types of fatty acids: capric acid (C10) and caprylic acid (C8.) Most types of MCT oil available today consist of the following composition:
- 50 to 80% of caprylic acid
- 20 to 50% of capric acid
The amount of caprylic acid is always higher than capric acid because it is more efficient.
What are the qualities of high-quality MCT oil?
The features of a high-quality MCT oil include:
- No Taste/Smell
A high-quality MCT oil usually has no smell or taste because it is removed with the help of bleaching and deodorizing.
- Liquid at Room Temperature
MCT oil has a low smoking point as compared to coconut oil, so it exists as a liquid at room temperature.
- High Absorbability
A good-quality MCT oil absorbs quickly to produce instant energy. A low-quality generic version lacks this quality mainly because it has been blended with lauric acid to reduce the manufacturing costs. Always read the labels to check for the presence of lauric acid before buying any MCT oil.
- High Solubility
Because the carbon molecules forming MCT oil are small in size, they are highly soluble in water and other biological fluids such as blood.
Are there any natural sources of getting MCTs?
In addition to using MCT oil, you can also get MCTs from the following food sources:
- Coconut oil
- Palm kernel oil