What Is MCT Oil?
MCT oil has been a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes. Coconut oil is a popular supplement that is high in MCTs. Medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT) is a medium-length chain of fats. MCTs can be digested more quickly than long-chain fatty acids found in many foods because they are shorter.
MCT oil is most often extracted from coconut oil. More than half of coconut oil’s fat comes from MCTs. These fats can also be found in palm oil and dairy products. There are four types of MCTs, but caprylic acid and capric acids are the most common. These types may have special benefits in certain cases.
Here are seven scientifically-backed benefits of MCT oil in your diet. While current research on the subject is mixed, there are some possible reasons MCT oil could be beneficial in weight loss. Two hormones that promote a feeling of fullness have been found to be increased by MCT oil: peptide and leptin.
A study showed that those who ate 2 tablespoons of MCT Oil as part of their breakfast ate less than those who ate coconut oil. This study also showed a lower rise in triglycerides, glucose, and MCT oil. This could also affect the feeling fully.
Some older studies also showed that MCT oil may help to reduce weight and circumference. This could prevent obesity, according to researchers. Some studies do not take into account other factors, such as activity levels or calorie intake. Further research is required.
MCT Oil Features
MCT oil contains about 10% fewer calories than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. MCTs can also become ketones by reducing carbohydrate intake. MCT oil may help you to stay in ketosis, a state where you burn fat while eating very few carbs.
Your gut environment is crucial when it comes down to your weight. MCT oil can help increase the growth of good bacteria, and may also support the gut lining. This could help you lose weight.
Some Biochemical Properties
- MCT oil can help you lose weight by increasing your fullness, fat loss, and ketone levels, and improving your gut environment. Its effectiveness is still being researched.
- MCTs are more readily absorbed by the body than LCTs (long-chain triglycerides), which have more carbon in their fatty acid chains.
- MCTs are shorter in chain length and travel faster from the stomach to the liver. They don’t require bile for a breakdown like long-chain fats.
- The liver breaks down fats to either be used as fuel or stored in the body as body fat. Because MCTs are easily absorbed into your cells, they can be used immediately as a source of energy.
- MCTs can be converted to ketones in your liver when you are on a ketogenic diet. These ketones can be passed through the blood-brain barrier and become a source of energy for your brain cells.
Summary: MCT oil can be easily absorbed and transported throughout your body. It can be used immediately to get energy or converted into ketones.
MCT Oils for Sports
Elevating lactate levels during exercise can have a negative impact on performance. Interestingly, MCTs may help reduce lactate buildup. An older study showed that athletes who consumed 6 grams of MCTs or 1.5 teaspoons before going on a ride had lower lactate levels, and it was easier to exercise than those who took LCTs.
The study also found that MCT oil can be taken before you exercise to increase your use of fats instead of carbs. MCTs can increase fat burning, but studies have mixed results. It was found that it can increase swimming ability in mice. However, another human-based study did not show any improvement in endurance performance for runners. Another animal study suggests that MCT oil does not adversely affect exercise performance.
Summary: MCT oil may increase fat burning and decrease the need for carbohydrates during exercise. It’s not clear if this will translate into improved exercise performance.
MCT Oil in Medicine
Research has shown that MCT oil and ketogenic diets may be helpful in managing conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and autism.
- Epilepsy. Although the ketogenic diet is popular among those who want to lose weight, it was originally created as a method of managing epilepsy. Researchers discovered that fasting can increase ketone production, which may help reduce epileptic seizures. This may be helpful in managing epilepsy because MTCs can also be converted to ketones. This type of MCT can be crucial. In-vitro studies showed that MCT capric acids improved seizure control more than widespread anti-epileptic drugs. A second study on rats showed that the same MCT could block seizure-causing receptors in the brain. However, more human studies are required. It’s also important to remember that the ketogenic diet may not be for everyone. Talk to your doctor first if you are considering a ketogenic diet for managing your epilepsy.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Your brain’s ability to use sugar is impaired by Alzheimer’s disease. The MCT ketogenic diet provides a source of alternative energy: ketones. This could help brain cells survive better. It also blocks a brain receptor that causes memory loss. One study showed that MCTs had a short-term effect on the cognitive abilities of 20 individuals with Alzheimer’s with a specific gene type (APOE e4–negative). Although genetic factors are important, evidence shows that 20 to 70g of supplemental MCTs containing caprylic acid or caprylic acid may modestly improve mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms. The overall benefits of MCT oil for Alzheimer’s disease look promising. However, more large-scale studies are required.
- Autism. MCT oil could also be beneficial for children with autism. A study showed positive overall results when the ketogenic diet was used for six months. Another study showed that MCTs significantly improved the behavior of 6 out of 15 autistic children. Autism is a spectrum condition that can affect different people in different ways. MCT oil may have varying degrees of effect on your child’s health. This area of research needs more attention. Talk to your doctor first if you are considering a ketogenic diet for your child with autism.
Summary: MCT oil may increase brain function. This could be beneficial for those with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and other conditions.
Other Health Benefits
MCTs have been proven to have antimicrobial, antifungal, and other properties. In-vitro studies have shown that coconut oil contains many MCTs and can reduce Candida albicans growth by 25%. This yeast is common and can lead to thrush, as well as other skin infections.
In-vitro studies also revealed that coconut oil decreased the growth of Clostridium difficile, a bacteria that causes disease. The ability of coconut oil to inhibit yeast and bacterial growth could be due to MCTs (caprylic, capric, and lauric acids). The growth of an infectious fungus has been reduced by as much as 50% in hospitals using MCTs.
It is important to note, however, that the majority of research on MCTs and immune support was done via animal or in-vitro studies. Before we can draw any conclusions, it is important to have high-quality human studies.
Summary: MCT oil has fatty acids that have been proven to inhibit the growth of yeasts and bacteria. MCTs could have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, but more research is needed.
MCT and Heart Disease
These are some factors that can increase your risk of developing heart disease:
- High cholesterol
- Blood pressure
- Increased body mass index
Studies have shown that MCT oil can help with weight loss and fat reduction. This could help lower your risk of developing heart disease. Study of 24 overweight men revealed that MCT oil, combined with phytosterols (flaxseed) oil for 29 days reduced total cholesterol levels by 12.5%. The reduction in total cholesterol was 4.7% when olive oil was used.
A similar study also showed a reduction in LDL (bad cholesterol). MCT oil may also increase heart-protective HDL (good cholesterol). It can also significantly lower C-reactive Protein (CRP), which is an inflammatory marker that raises the risk of heart disease. Other studies have also shown that MCT-oil-based combinations can be beneficial for other risk factors for heart disease.
Summary: MCT oil may reduce the risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, cholesterol, inflammation, and weight.
MCT Oils for Diabetes
MCT oil could also be beneficial for people with diabetes. MCT oil has been shown to decrease fat storage and increase fat burn, which may help in managing diabetes. A small study with 40 patients with diabetes showed that MCT oil users saw a reduction in body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance compared to those who used corn oil-containing LCTs.
Another study showed that 10 diabetics received insulin injections and needed 30% less sugar to maintain normal blood sugar levels. The same study, however, did not show any effect of MCTs in lowering fasting blood sugar levels. Other factors, such as the timing of meals and the amount of food consumed, can also influence the effect of MCT oil.
Summary: MCT oil may be able to help with diabetes management by decreasing fat storage and increasing fat burn. It could also be used to manage blood sugar.
Disadvantages and Side Effects
MCTs can be considered safe but they could have disadvantages.
- MCT can stimulate hunger hormone release.
- MCTs can increase your hunger hormones.
- MCTs were found to increase the release of neuropeptide Y and ghrelin in anorexic patients.
- The hormones produced by MCTs were more abundant in people who consumed more than 6g per day than those who consumed less than 1g per day.
- It’s not clear if the increase in these hormones causes you to eat less.
- High doses can lead to liver fat buildup
- MCT oil in high doses can increase liver fat over time.
A 12-week study on mice showed that MCTs had a 50% increase in liver fat. The same study found that MCTs reduce total body fat and improve insulin resistance. High doses of MCT oil (such as the ones in this study) are not recommended. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects MCT oil has on health.
There is currently no upper intake limit (UL) for MCT oil. As a safe upper limit, MCT oil has been recommended as having a daily maximum of 4 to 7 teaspoons (60-100 milliliters) MCTs have high calories, but they usually make up only 5-10% of your daily calorie intake. MCT oil should be consumed as part of your daily fat intake if you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
Summary: MCT oil can increase hunger hormones which may lead to an increase in food intake. It may also cause an increase in the amount of fat in the liver over the long term.
Potential health benefits could be derived from medium-chain triglycerides. They contain fatty acids, which could help you lose weight by decreasing body fat, increasing your fullness, and possibly improving your gut environment.
MCTs can also be used to provide energy, fight bacterial growth, protect your heart and help manage diabetes, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and autism. However, whole foods may offer additional benefits over supplements. You may experience increased hunger or fat accumulation in the liver. Discuss the risks and benefits of MCT oil in your diet with your doctor.