The health and wellness industry is thriving more than ever right now. Even more so due to the abundance of health supplements on the market, especially those that promote weight and fat loss. The annual revenue for the weight loss industry is currently estimated at over $20 billion in the US alone. Figures suggest that there are over 100 million dieters per year seeking diet advice, help and medicines.
Today on FCER, you will find out about MCT oil, a product that not only helps with weight loss and fat burning, but also provides many other health benefits such as energy endurance and help with treating existing medical conditions. MCT oil is packed full with health benefits and we are here to tell you all about what MCTs are, how they work, what science is involved and how it can benefit you:
- What is MCT Oil?
- Background history of MCT Oil
- 10 Science Based MCT Oil Benefits
- How to take MCT oil
- Where to buy MCT Oil: the complete guide
- Risks and Side Effects of MCT Oil
What is MCT Oil?
MCT oil stands for medium-chain triglycerides oil. Triglycerides are the fats we get from food and store in our body for energy. Medium-chain fats are easier to digest. Most foods provide fats that are long-chain triglycerides (LCT), which are harder and take longer to break down in the body once consumed. This is the reason as to why MCT oil has become very popular in the diet industry due to medium-chain fats being easier for the body to break down and absorb into the bloodstream.
Unlike other fats, medium-chain triglycerides are consumed and directed straight to the liver, meaning they are burned as energy straight away or sometimes turned into ketones. Ketones are often considered beneficial for being a sustainable energy source and helps to maintain weight, as the fat from the MCT does not store in the body. Instead, it is burned for energy.
Also, ketones can provide energy for the brain as well as the body, which many other fats do not offer.
As well as being easy to digest, MCT oil offers many health benefits. Research suggests that the most recognised health benefits MCT oil offers is weight loss and energy expenditure. Today, we are here to tell you about other health benefits that MCT oil can provide.
MCT oil is often consumed as a supplement. The calories and fat that come from MCT oil is used by the body as energy instead of being stored as fat. MCT’s directly release into your bloodstream to be burned as energy as opposed to being broken down into fat cells and stored for later use.
Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D author states that MCT oil is super fuel as it boosts fat burning and mental clarity. Dr. Hyman’s research, along with other scientific studies, suggest that MCT oil is one of the most popular oils amongst others in the industry for those who wish to lose weight, as it allows the fat to be burned as fuel immediately.
There are four types of MCT’s which are caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). The two most common MCT’s found and used in MCT oil supplements are caprylic and capric acid as they provide the most benefits. Scientists state that all MCT’s vary due to their concentration level, with caprylic acid (C8) being 100% pure, explaining why it is most popular.
The ‘C’ number of each MCT indicates how many carbon atoms are found in the fat. The lower the number, the shorter the chain of triglycerides which makes them easier and quicker to metabolize.
Most consumers add MCT oil supplements to smoothies, coffees and salad dressings. Typically, MCT oil is found in the fats of foods like coconuts, palm kernel oil and dairy products. To find out about its history and manufacturing process, here’s more:
Background history of MCT Oil
MCT oil has an interesting manufacturing history and background. As it comes from naturally sourced products, many may assume it is easily manufactured. However, there is more to MCT oil than meets the eye. You can either consume it through foods or in a higher concentrate from supplements.
Where does MCT oil come from?
MCT’s come from only a few natural foods that are rich in MCT. Most foods often offer LCT’s as opposed to medium-chain triglycerides, which justifies why MCT’s are popular, as they are quite unique.
The main source of MCT’s is from coconuts. Around 50% of the fat in coconut oil comes from MCT’s and it is estimated that 55% or more of MCT’s is manufactured from coconuts. Around 42% of the MCT’s in coconuts is made up of lauric acid (C12), with the other 8% being made up of C6, C8 and C10. The high percentage ratio of lauric acid to the other acids in the MCTmakes coconuts one of the most rich foods in healthy fatty acids.
The other MCT oil sources are palm kernel oil and dairy butter. Most brands of MCT oil prefer to combine the MCT’s from both coconut and palm oil to get a balanced medium-chain of triglycerides to provide the most benefits.
The manufacturing process of MCT oil
MCT oil is a man made substance. It is typically made in a lab by combining the medium-chain triglycerides from coconut and palm oil. The process by which MCT oil is made is called fractionation. This is where the MCT’s from coconut and palm oil are extracted and isolated to attain them in their purest concentration.
Most MCT oils are 100% caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10), or a combination of both. The purity and concentration of the MCT’s will vary from brand to brand depending on what they want the MCT oil to offer. The reason for caproic acid (C6) not being used in MCT oils is due to their displeasing taste and taste. Lauric acid (C12) is often used but in small amounts.
Once the oils are extracted and finished in the manufacturing process, they are sold pure or combined. Most brands sell less pure concentrates as the purer the mix, the more expensive they are. Therefore, a lower concentrate means the MCT oil is easier to market as it is cheaper.
You may be eagerly waiting to hear the benefits MCT oil can provide, so here is the breakdown:
10 Science Based MCT Oil Benefits
MCT oil is often associated with weight loss and used for a good source of energy. However, throughout the years and studies, there have been many benefits of MCT oil that have surfaced. MCT oil can actually help with numerous other health concerns such as heart disease, digestive troubles and neurological disorders. To find out how MCT oil can benefit you, here is more:
1 – Promotes weight loss
There are a few ways in which MCT oil can promote weight loss.
In a research study, MCT oil consumption showed to promote fullness and helped people eat less. Participants consumed two tablespoons of MCT oil with their breakfast which encouraged them to eat less for lunch and dinner and stopped them from snacking throughout the day due to the feeling of fullness and satisfaction from their meal. MCT oil does this by increasing the release of the two hormones which promote fullness, peptide YY and leptide.
The same study also found that the participants had lower triglycerides and glucose which can influence the feeling of fullness.
Studies found that regular use of MCT oil can result in a smaller circumference of body areas after use, which signal effective weight loss. This can be due to MCT oil being one tenth lower in calories than other oils such as olive oil and oily fats from avocados.
Additionally, MCT oil is absorbed into the bloodstream quicker than LCT’s which allows them to be used as energy almost immediately. This means that MCT oil will not be stored as fat, which results in a lower fat body percentage due to less storage of fat.
For those on a low carb diet, like the Keto diet, will benefit from this if they are looking to burn fat. A low carb diet mixed with MCT oil can help the body stay in a fat burning state for a longer period of time. This is known at ketosis which is where the body burns fat over glucose.
2 – Increases energy endurance
There have been a few studies into MCT oil and its ability to prolong our energy. Users and promoters of MCT oil suggest that it can be used for energy endurance which can help you sustain energy for longer.
A study found that athletes who consumed MCT rich foods, instead of LCT foods, found they could perform longer than usual. The athletes were taking part in high intensity activities and saw a positive outcome.
3 – Reduces lactate build up
Coinciding with energy levels in athletes, lactate buildup can be an issue that affects their performance. Lactate build up can impact their exercise as blood flow decreases. A study found that taking MCT oil, around 6 grams, prior to exercise helped decrease lactate levels and the athletes found it easier to exercise. The results were compared to athletes who took LCT before exercising, and the results showed MCT is more effective for reducing lactate buildup.
Although there have been positive studies on energy and lactate buildup help in athletes, not all studies show effective outcomes.
Good to know : You can find MCT Oil in Protein powder like Vega Sport.
4 – Helps with digestive issues
Healthy fats, like MCT oil, can help support the gut microbiome which helps your gut to digest and absorb vitamins and minerals properly. Whilst studies for digestion and MCT oil have only been tested on animals, most animal studies reflect positive results for human testing too.
One study found that MCT oil helped improve digestive performance, strengthened the gut and aided digestion of essential nutrients. The reason behind MCT oil having so many great benefits for the digestive system is due to them being easy to digest and absorb. The gut does not need to work overtime to absorb MCT oils, which makes them beneficial for easy digestion. This can be effective for those with gastrointestinal disorders.
5 – Lowers cholesterol
Studies have found that regular consumption of coconuts and MCT oil reduces LDL in the blood, the bad cholesterol, and increases HDL’s, the good cholesterol. MCT oil promotes heart health by balancing out the ratio of healthy cholesterol levels.
One study on 40 women found that MCT oil from coconuts improved cholesterol. The female participants were diagnosed with abdominal obesity and results showed a healthy increase in HDL’s. These results were compared to the effects of soybean oil and calorie controlled diets, and MCT oil showed the greatest results.
Another study found that the consumption of MCT decreased cholesterol levels by 12.5% in comparison to olive oil, which decreased them by 4.7%. There have been many positive studies and results for MCT oil for cholesterol levels.
6 – Benefits type 2 diabetic patients
MCT oil is promoted heavily as a health care option for those with diabetes. One study found that diabetes type 2 patients who took MCT oil showed reduction in insulin resistance and body weight as opposed to patients who took corn oil, an LCT.
Furthermore, many type 2 diabetic patients struggle with being overweight or obese and seeing as MCT oil can help reduce fat, fat storage and body circumference, it can help those suffering with weight issues lose weight and excess fat. This in turn results in improving the consequences that diabetes causes.
Coinciding with this, MCT oil also helps regulate blood sugar levels and for diabetic patients, this is key. One study found that diabetic patients needed 30% less sugar in their body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels after consuming MCT’s. Scientists suggest MCTs are a good dietary substitute to LCTs to help promote healthy blood sugar levels, especially in diabetic patients.
7 – Helps with dementia and Alzeimher’s disease
Diseases such as dementia and Alzeimher’s impact your brain’s ability to function properly. MCT’s produce ketones which can be used by the brain as an alternative energy source. In recent years, studies have been done to see if MCT oil can help treat or inhibit brain disorders such as dementia and Alzeimher’s disease, which have concluded positive.
One study in particular that intrigued the world of Alzeimher’s research found that MCT oil helps to increase brain function, memory and processing in those with mild to moderate Alzeimher’s disease.
8 – Helps with epilepsy
For a long time, research suggests that ketogenic diets and the increase of ketones in the body is beneficial for people who suffer with epilepsy. This is because increased ketones have been found to lead to less frequent epileptic seizures.
Seeing as MCTs are converted into ketones, this suggests that MCT oil provides the same benefits as a ketogenic diet, as it releases ketones into the body. Ketogenic diets can be hard for people to sustain long term, especially children who suffer with epilepsy, therefore MCT oil is suggested as the best alternative.
One study unexpectedly found that MCT oil that was highly concentrated with capric acid (C10) helps reduce epileptic seizures and provides seizure control more than a popular anti-epileptic drug.
9 – Fights off bad bacteria
Research on MCTs has found that they have great antibacterial and antifungal effects. Coconut oil in particular, the greatest component of MCTs, has proved to reduce the growth and spread of yeast, which is the cause of thrush and other skin conditions. The reduction of yeast production in the body is said to be down to the capric, caprylic and lauric acid content found in MCTs.
MCTs have shown to prevent the spread of bacteria in pharmaceutical environments such as hospitals and doctor surgeries by up to 50%. They play a vital role in antibacterial functioning and help reduce the spread of bad bacteria in the body as well as outside of the body.
10 – Helps with autism
For people with autism, a ketogenic diet has proven to benefit overall symptoms after sticking to it for over 6 months. A study found that when adding MCTs into a ketogenic and gluten free diet, it can substantially improve autism and behavioural issues in a large number of patients.
As autism is a spectrum condition, it can affect people in many different ways which means that MCTs and certain diets may not always help make improvements. Therefore, MCT oil may help to some degree, in a substantial way or have little effect.
Now you are aware of the benefits MCT oil can offer, you may be wondering how and when to take it:
How to take MCT oil
When to start and stop taking MCT oil?
MCT oil is safe to start taking at any time to reap the benefits. To avoid side effects or complications, it is advised to begin with the smaller recommended dose of 1 teaspoon and increase accordingly. There are currently no reported side effects from taking MCT oil, nor is there any evidence of MCT oil interacting with other medications but if you notice any side effects, stop taking it immediately.
What are the dosages to respect?
Most MCT oil supplement labels state that 1 to 3 teaspoons per day is enough to provide you with the health benefits it offers. Once your body adjusts to the regular consumption, you can increase the spoon size to tablespoon for your daily doses.
You can take the daily dosage when you feel is best. Many say they like to take it before bed to reap the benefits overnight and the next day. Some research suggests that taking MCT oil on an empty stomach can cause bloating or slight discomfort, but that is not the case for every user.
Can I overdose on MCT oil?
Taking too much MCT oil cannot cause any life threatening complications. However, over consuming it can cause stomach upset such as bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea. Stick to the recommended daily dosage to avoid any side effects or issues.
You may be wondering where to get MCT oil and the best ones. Find out more in our complete MCT oil buying guide:
Where to buy MCT Oil: the complete guide
When it comes to purchasing non prescription medications or products that provide medical health benefits, it is important to know where it is best to buy a legitimate product. Here is a bit more guidance to follow when purchasing your MCT oil:
Where to buy
For the best products that can guarantee purity and results, it is best to purchase them in-store or online at places such as Amazon, Holland & Barrett, Walmart and other verified health stores.
Researchers suggest to always look for an MCT oil which is a mix of coconut and palm kernel oil, as opposed to just coconut oil. This is to ensure the product has a beneficial blend to offer the benefits mentioned above.
Most retailers sell MCT oil supplements for around $14 to $30, depending on the quality and brand. These MCT oils are often not the purest form of MCT you can get, but that is because the medical grade product is not yet available to the public, it is only used in laboratories for research. If you were able to buy medical grade MCT oil, it could cost over $200.
Before taking MCT oil, it is important to be aware of the risk, side effects and drawbacks:
Risks and Side Effects of MCT Oil
Like all ingredients, extracts and medicines, there are a few drawbacks of MCT oil. It is important to know and understand the risks and side effects that come with consuming MCT oil. There are currently no reported adverse interactions with other medications, nor many harmful side effects or risks, but there are some to be aware of:
- May invigorate hunger hormones – in most cases, MCTs release a hormone which promotes fullness but for some, it may release hunger hormones. A study on people with anorexia showed that MCTs released appetite hormones, proving this side effect to be true.
- Could cause weight gain – consuming MCT oil is consuming fats, therefore overconsumption can lead to unexpected weight gain. It is advised to stick to the recommended dose to prevent weight gain.
- May cause minor side effects – like most medications, there are minor side effects to be aware of which includes nausea, vomiting, stomach upset and diarrhea. This can be prevented by sticking to the recommended daily dosage.
- Could cause ketoacidosis – it is considered that MCTs may cause ketoacidosis for those with type 1 diabetes. This is where your metabolism produces an uncontrolled amount of ketones, which could have significant consequences for those with type 1 diabetes.
To avoid complications, talk to a professional before taking MCT oil and when taking, stick to the recommended dosage to inhibit any side effects.
If there are any questions you may still have, here are some answers to the top most frequently asked questions on MCT oil:
Does MCT oil help you poop?
MCTs have a natural laxative effect. So effectively yes, it can help you poop. MCT oil is often used to help with constipation as coconuts have long been used to promote regular bowel movement. Be careful not to take too much as it can cause stomach upset or diarrhea.
Does MCT oil clog arteries?
Although saturated fats are heavily dominant in coconuts, which makes it dominant in MCT oil, it cannot clog arteries. Coconuts and MCT oil remains to be a liquid when consumed which does not pose any threat of blockage.
Is MCT oil bad for your heart?
MCT oil promotes heart health by reducing blood sugar levels in diabetic patients as well as lowering cholesterol and balancing blood sugar levels in regular patients. It provides many benefits for your heart which makes it good for your heart.
Is olive oil an MCT oil?
MCT oil is made from coconuts, palm kernels and dairy products and it is not a form of olive oil. They have a completely different makeup of fats and should not be confused.
Can MCT oil make you gain weight?
Consuming MCT oil means you are consuming fats. Therefore, if you over consume MCT oil you will be excessively consuming fats, which can make you gain weight. To prevent this, it is advised to stick to the daily recommended dosage.
Is MCT oil good for hair?
Due to its makeup of coconut oil, MCT oil is good for your hair like coconut oil is. This is due to its fatty acid balance which works as a natural moisturiser and detangler. The contents can also help with dandruff by encouraging a healthier scalp with increased moisture.
Can you take MCT oil on an empty stomach?
It is recommended to take MCT oil with breakfast. Do not use it as a substitute for food as it can cause stomach upset. Instead, add it to your food or morning juice, coffee or smoothie to reap the benefits. It is best to take it 30 to 60 minutes before eating to maximise ketones.
With all that information and guidance on MCT oil in mind, let’s tell you our final thoughts:
MCT oil provides modest benefits, such as weight loss, energy endurance and also helping with numerous health conditions. MCTs have a growing body of research which provides scientific evidence and results for all of the proven health benefits discussed in this article.
To reap the benefits it is best to stick to the daily recommended dosage and consume by adding it to smoothies, salads or coffee.
MCT oil is a convenient way to take advantage of the benefits MCTs have to offer with very few risks. Adding it to your routine will allow you to seek benefits and maintain them with regular consumption.
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