Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) have recently attracted a lot of attention. The unique properties combined with exceptional health benefits offered by these compounds have helped them secure as a place in a lot of diets such as the keto diet. However, the increasing popularity of MCT oils has also given rise to a lot of misinformation and confusion as well.
Wondering what are the top 8 science-based facts MCT oil benefits keto? Despite being an oil, it is easily digested and helps enhance nutrient absorption. MCT oil consists of unique fats that boost exercise performance and enhance weight loss, both of which help you achieve the effects of a ketogenic diet faster. Adding this oil to the keto diet has also been known to increase the ketone production, and promote mental well-being so that you remain motivated throughout your keto journey.
How does MCT oil possess so many different benefits? Are these claimed backed up by science? This comprehensive article will help you clear all the confusion.
8 Science-based Facts MCT Oil Benefits Keto
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. MCT oil, on the other hand, 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, they are much easily absorbed and provide the user with instant bouts of energy. This instant energy is particularly helpful for people following the keto diet. MCT oil can help instantly replenish the energy levels of these 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.
MCT Oil Increases Nutrient Absorption
One of the biggest side effects of the keto diet is an imbalance in the nutrient profile. Whenever you cut off 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.
This is why it is generally stressful to transition to the keto diet. You are drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake which includes a large variety of foods, a lot of which are dense sources of nutrients required for proper functioning of mind and body.
Magnesium is among the most common micronutrients to get 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 which controls blood clotting, nervous transmission, and bone strength and often gets depleted in keto dieters.
So how do you make sure you do not develop any such deficiency during your keto journey? By consuming MCT oil.
Research has proven that using MCTs 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 as 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 which means that the body is able to build more lean tissue and preserve the already existing protein mass thanks to MCT oil.
MCT Oil Controls 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 and adding MCT oil to your daily routine can help boost this effect.
Studies have indicated that MCT oil has 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 the 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.
MCT Oil Increases Weight Loss
There are different reasons how 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. This helps control your daily food intake and avoids overeating.
Research has even found this oil to be better than coconut oil in improving satiety. One particular study indicated that people who consume 2 tablespoons of MCT oil every morning eat a lesser amount of food for lunch as compared to those using coconut oil. The same study also found that MCT oil can also 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- 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 aims as it contains 10% fewer calories as compared to other long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. This makes it a highly keto-friendly food that can provide you with a broad range of benefits while controlling your calorie intake.
As mentioned above, 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 also helps you lose weight.
So, adding MCT oil to your daily keto regimen will only help you lose weight faster without adding much to your calories.
MCT Oil Improves 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 provides the best type of fat to use right before and up to 2 hours after exercise for added weight loss. Moreover, the ability of MCT oil to rebuild damaged muscle and prevent their catabolic breakdown also helps the keto dieters burn off their fat stores without losing lean mass.
MCT Oil Controls Appetite
The reason why most of the people fail at a keto diet is that they are unable to control their appetite and soon succumb to their sugar cravings. For such people, MCT oil acts like the magic potion that helps you keep satiated for longer periods of time.
Different studies have reported how MCT oil is better at controlling appetite as compared to long-chain triglycerides. By controlling your appetite in an efficient way, MCT oil can help decrease your calorie consumption which is one of the basic requirements of the ketogenic diet. How MCT oil accomplishes this effect is by increasing the production of ketones, discussed in detail in the next section.
A lot of studies support these claims associated with MCT oil. For example, a study investigated the effects of three different types of diet on 6 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 as compared to the rest.
MCT Oil Increases Ketone Levels in Blood
The basic mechanism through which a ketogenic work is 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 hence, helps the body fully benefit from this diet. But how does MCT oil increase the levels of ketones in blood?
To understand this, let’s take a look at various aspects that control the fate of 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 as compared to the LCTs found in foods like avocados with at least 14 atoms of carbon. Moreover, MCTs also have a less degree of saturation as compared to the LCTs. This means that 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 the MCT oil can also be oxidized in other cell organelles, like the peroxisomes.
Due to a combined effect of all the mechanisms explained above, using MCT oil can essentially increase the production of ketone bodies in your blood. An increase in ketones consequently leads to a state of ketosis at a much faster rate and helps you reap all the benefits of the keto diet as soon as possible.
MCT Oil Boosts Mental Clarity
A lot of keto dieters consume MCT oil to improve their cognitive performances, and for all the right reasons. MCT oil can help protect the brain from oxidative stress which may otherwise lead to the age-related decline of cognition. Because your brain is more likely to use ketones as a fuel than carbs, MCT oil also contributes to improved brain health.
If you are a diabetic, you must be familiar with the side effects on the brain brought about by hypoglycemia: a state in which your body lacks glucose, 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 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, as per research.
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 amount of dose in the afternoon. This will help you maintain a state of ketosis throughout the entire day.
Consider following these tips to make your experience better.
- If you are 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 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. You may also sprinkle it over any dish to increase its fatty content.
Remember that using MCT oil may cause nausea in certain people mainly because of its highly concentrated ingredients. To avoid this side effect, start with small quantities of MCT oil and gradually increase the dose. Keep consuming half a teaspoon of this oil for several days and keep increasing the dose until it reaches up to three tablespoons daily.
It would not be wrong to say that MCT oil and the keto diet go hand in hand. MCT oil is an excellent way to boost the production of ketones and possibly the best source to obtain instant energy for both the body and the brain. Keto dieters absolutely adore 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, even powerful than coconut oil, a popular keto food. It is an extremely beneficial food item that can be easily added to your daily keto meals. Take care not to consume more than three tablespoons of this oil every day to avoid side effects.
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 has 100% of these 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 consists 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 a high-quality MCT oil?
The following features are usually present in a high-quality MCT oil:
- 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. Therefore, always read the labels to check 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