MCT oil is all the rage these days – we even put it in our new, Keto Broth! So, what’s the big deal? Is it really a “superfood”? Should you try and incorporate it into your diet? Here, we answer all your burning questions!
What the heck is MCT Oil?
MCT oil is a specific type of fatty acid. M.C.T. stands for “medium chain triglycerides,” (triglyceride = fat). Unlike short-chain and long-chain fatty acids (like those found in avocados and olive oil), certain types of medium-chain fatty acids – caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), and capric acid (C10) – don’t need to be digested by your stomach. When you eat these medium-chain fats, they bypass your gut and go straight to your liver. If you're following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, MCTs can be converted by the liver into ketones.
What is a ketone?
Your body can make energy from either carbohydrates or fat. The body’s first, and preferred, source of fuel is carbohydrates, however, when carbs are not available, the body will turn fat into fuel. Ketones are the chemicals made when your body (your liver, specifically) turns fat into energy and can be used as a source of fuel for the brain.
What’s the difference between coconut oil and MCT oil?
Coconut oil contains MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). MCT oil is a liquid fat produced by refining raw coconut or palm oil. This process removes and concentrates the MCTs naturally found in the oil, and provides more of the benefits specific to MCTs – increased ketone production, metabolism, and mental clarity (see below…)
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MCT OIL?
Since MCT’s don’t require digestion, they go straight to the liver where they can be converted into ketones. If you consume MCTs while following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, the fat is converted straight into energy. This is this why many people report feeling a quick boost of energy immediately after consuming MCT oil.
MCT oil has been shown to increase the release of peptide YY and leptin – two hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body, and it may even be better than coconut oil when it comes to keeping you full. In fact, this study found that people taking two tablespoons of MCT oil as part of their breakfast ended up eating less food for lunch compared to those taking coconut oil.
EASY TO DIGEST
Because they are so easy to absorb and use, MCTs offer the digestive system a break and are often a good choice for those who struggle with digestive problems, fat absorption or lack a gallbladder.
IMPROVED GUT HEALTH
MCTs have been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties and there is some evidence that they may help balance gut bacteria and combat pathogenic bacteria. When used with a healthy diet, MCTs may help improve gut health over time.
Ketones can pass through the blood-brain barrier, and, in the absence of glucose, be used as a source of energy for the brain. Many people following a ketogenic diet report increased mental clarity when in a state of ketosis and consuming exogenous (or outside) forms of ketones such as MCT oil.
SHOULD I START EATING MCT OIL?
Before you go guzzling down a bottle of MCT oil, it is important to note that the greatest benefits of MCT oil are experienced by those following a low-carb or ketogenic diet. This is because your body will always use glucose (carbs) for energy, first. If you’re eating a moderate-high carbohydrate diet, your body (and brain) will prioritize using the carbs in your diet, before the MCT oil. Only when you deplete your glycogen (or glucose / carb) stores will your body begin converting the MCT oil into ketones.
THAT SAID, fat is a critical part of any healthy diet – high-carb, low-carb, or no-carb. Fat slows the release of glucose (carbs and sugar) into the bloodstream, helping to stabilize blood sugar, and, ultimately, prevent blood sugar crashes (a.k.a hanger-induced rampages). Fat also provides the building blocks for healthy hormones and cellular function.
We could go on and on about the wonders of fat, but, long story short, fat is VERY good for you and you need it in your diet.
For those not following a low-carb or keto diet, most practitioners recommend about 30% of your daily calories coming from fat and MCT oil can make up a part of these calories. Some of our other, favorite healthy fats include coconut oil and grass-fed butter (which contain MCTs), avocado oil, olive oil, avocados, lard, and beef tallow.
HOW DO I TAKE MCT OIL?
If you decide that you want to try adding MCT oil to your diet, start SLOOOOW. Too much too soon can give you a case of the runs! Start very small, we’re talking one teaspoon or even one-half teaspoon of a high-quality MCT oil and increase your dose every couple of days.
You can also try our Keto Broth, which combines our collagen-rich, organic bone broth with MCT oil with other healthy fats in one convenient, heat-and-go cup.
Bone broth provides a whole-food source of glycine – an amino acid that helps the body digest fat. The combination of MCT oil plus bone broth can help support ketogenic and low-carb diets.