MCT Oil is a supplement that’s gaining popularity because it’s been scientifically proven to benefit people looking to biohack their body and mind.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or somebody wanting to overcome or prevent a range of diseases, it’s quick and easy to take. So here’s what MCT Oil is all about and how it could benefit you.
What is MCT oil? MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) Oil is a supplement added to salad, smoothies, and coffee. It’s shown to help weight loss, heart disease, epilepsy, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s a source of fuel for the brain and has other benefits too.
MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) are what is known as medium-chain fatty acids. In comparison to longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs are absorbed comparatively easily by your body as there is less work to do in breaking apart the carbon bonds which make them up.
Unlike long-chain triglycerides, MCTs do not require special enzymes to be digested. Instead, they are absorbed through the gut, straight into the bloodstream and into the liver. Here, they have a thermogenic effect, positively affecting your metabolic rate.
They are burned by the body for energy instead of being stored as fat.
MCT oil can either be added to foods as a supplement or can be found in the following:
- coconut oil
- palm oil
- whole milk (from grass-fed cows)
- butter (from grass-fed cows)
- cheese (from grass-fed cows)
As a supplement, it is colorless and odorless so it can be added to your masterpiece without fear of changes to the flavor or look of it.
This makes it a great addition to any meal for some quick, easy energy-boosting, and brain-boosting benefits (which we will get further into) along with aiding in weight loss.
So what actually are MCTs and how do they work? What’s the science behind them and why should you be adding them to your meals? All good questions, and we will get onto them in this next section…
What are they, how do they work and where’s the proof?
MCTs are a form of saturated fat.
People who have heard of saturated fats are used to hearing that they are harmful to you. However, research suggests that these fats should actually be consumed every day and can have a variety of benefits to your health and weight loss.
MCTs kickstart the process of ketosis.
This is the process of your body using ketones (which come from the breakdown of fat) as an energy source as opposed to using blood sugar (glucose) for energy.
Reducing the need for higher blood sugar, which can help you lose weight, and reduce damage to your arteries from this higher blood sugar.
MCTs have between 6-12 chains of carbons. The shorter the carbon chain, the more efficiently the MCT will be turned into ketones for energy.
Studies show more energy expenditure along with less weight gain and decreased fat storage after months of consuming MCTs.
So what other benefits are there?
Are there risks or side effects in using MCT oil?
There an abundance of studies suggesting that MCT oil aids in weight loss due to various processes in the body.
Whether increasing the feeling of fullness through the increase in the release of two hormones peptide YY and leptin or, as one study found, a lower rise in triglycerides and glucose with the consumption of MCT oil.
The same study also found that people who had two tablespoons of MCT oil with their breakfast ate less food for lunch in comparison to those who had coconut oil.
Or, as another study suggests, through increased energy expenditure which leads to increased calorie burning and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.
Or through the process of ketosis previously explained, MCT oil aids in weight loss in a variety of ways.
Metabolism and exercise endurance
A 2018 study suggests that MCTs enhance exercise endurance and increase metabolism. Increased metabolism is a benefit (for weight gain) as having a faster metabolism means your body burns calories at a higher rate, therefore you have to eat more to gain weight.
Increased exercise endurance is as written on the box, the study shows that people can exercise for longer due to MCT.
Another thing to help is to use something like the Lumen device to what you are fueling your body with and eat accordingly.
Not just from the potential weight loss, MCT can also help in keeping a healthy heart by reducing heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol.
A study found taking MCT oil combined with phytosterols and flaxseed oil for 29 days had reduced total cholesterol by 12.5% in overweight men and a reduction in bad cholesterol (LDL), while producing more of the ‘good’, heart-protecting (HDL) cholesterol.
Studies have shown MCTs can help in managing the following conditions:
For epilepsy, a study on rats showed MCTs blocking receptors in the brain which cause seizures. More human studies are required on this, however.
For Alzheimer’s, promising studies are taking place however, again, more is needed. Although, one which has taken place has shown that MCT blocks a receptor in the which causes memory loss.
Alzheimer’s disease makes it difficult for the brain to use sugar. As MCT keto diets offer up different energy sources – ketones – this allows brain cells to survive better than they usually would.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, so it affects people in varying ways depending on how far along the spectrum they are.
A 2003 study found MCT to have positive effects on autistic children.
A 2018 study found that 6 of 15 autistic children involved had improved behavior after being put on a keto diet. The study further suggests that the ketogenic diet “warrants further investigation as a treatment of the core features of autism”.
Helping in managing diabetes
Another study found that when consuming MCTs as opposed to LCTs people with diabetes who were injected with insulin needed 30% less sugar to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Side effects and risks
Could lead to an increase in food intake due to feeling fuller for less time
Although MCTs can increase the release of hormones, which help you to feel fuller for longer, some studies suggest they can also increase the rate of release for hunger hormones.
In a 2017 study of anorexic people, the ones who consumed more grams of MCT produced more of two hormones: ghrelin and neuropeptide Y, both increase appetite. Although, it is not known if the increase in the production of these hormones does actually make you eat more.
Excessive consumption could lead to fat buildup in the liver
One study involving mice found that a diet where 50% of the fats were MCTs increased liver fat.
50% of the fats in your diet being MCTs is not recommended and, as stated, is excessive.
However, it is certainly something to keep in mind as more research is needed on the long-term effects of MCTs.
How much should I be using?
First of all, don’t cook with MCTs as they have a low smoke point and their chemical structures change when being cooked.
Start by adding a tablespoon to your morning tea or coffee or whatever you have for breakfast. Then, build up to two or three tablespoons a day, adding it to lunch and then dinner, on top of breakfast.
As MCT oil supplements are colorless and flavorless they are a great addition to any meal. They do not change the look or taste of your meal whilst potentially providing the multitude of benefits aforementioned.
On top of promising benefits, MCT oils side effects are not only rare and unlikely but also minimal and not life-threatening. Promising benefits and minimal side effects show MCT oils to be a great addition to any meal throughout the day for a quick boost to your system.