MCT oil has become very popular in the past few years. A big reason for its popularity is the growing list of benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of MCT oils. Additionally, more and more people practice low carbohydrate diets and are changing their lifestyle with fasting. MCT oils are a very popular and fitting substitute for an energy source. Compared to saturated fats and trans fat the MCTs fats present a healthier energy source for your body and your brain.
MCT oil has therefore also gained the support of athletes and bodybuilders as they are usually practising strict diets but still need efficient energy sources for their workouts.
Let’s look at the reasons why MCTs are becoming quite a celebrity.
MCT Terms to Know
MCT's are medium-chain triglycerides
Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat that is made out of 2 or 3 fatty acids, built in a chain of 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
Long-chain triglycerides are a type of fat that is built in a chain of 13 to 21 carbon atoms.
Fatty acids are building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in food.
LDL (the bad) cholesterol is a low-density lipoprotein, it can build up into plaques that can eventually close up your arteries and can cause heart disease and strokes.
HDL (the good) cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein that acts as an absorber of bad cholesterol. It carries the bad cholesterol to the liver where it gets eliminated from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower the risks of heart disease and strokes.
Ketones are fatty acids, broken down from MCTs, they are small enough to pass from the blood to the brain and act as an energy source.
Steatorrhea when your body is unable to process the number of fatty acids so there is an increase of fat excretion in your stools.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by inherited genes or environmental elements. It’s an autoimmune reaction when cells in your pancreases are attacked by your own immune system and cannot produce enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is connected to genetics and happens due to lifestyle or old age. Your body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces.
Ketoacidosis when your blood sugar levels are very high and your body cannot produce enough insulin. The ketones level is also very high while the insulin level is very low.
Acacia Fibre it is a dietary fibre that can dissolve in water. It is usually taken orally to reduce cholesterol levels and to help increase weight loss.
Silicon Dioxide is silicone used to prevent powders substances from taking on too much moisture and clumping together.
What is MCT and Why Does it Matter?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. These are fats that are found in some of our food, such as coconut more specifically coconut oil. They are different from the long-chain triglycerides, which are the fats found in the majority of other foods.
Your body uses fat as energy fuel or stores it as body fat. The difference between medium-chain and long-chain fat is how it is metabolised within your body. The speciality of MCTs is that they are absorbed straight into the liver and are rarely stored as fat. They can travel from the blood to the brain and are used as an energy source. The processed MCT fatty acids that travel from the blood to the brain are called ketones. Ketones are mostly produced when your body is in carbohydrate deficiency and there is a lack of glucose to be used as an energy source.
As you may know, carbohydrates are the prime energy source in our bodies. When you lack those in your diet, for example, while on a keto diet, your body will produce ketones in order to provide enough energy for your brain. MCTs are in this case a great substitutions for glucose as they can be efficiently turned into energy. As mentioned above, the MCTs are rarely stored as body fat due to the fact they can be easily digested and used by the body. However, in the case of MCTs excess, they will be stored as fat eventually as your body will not know what to do with so many ketones.
There are four different types of MCTs. There are C6, C8, C10 and C12. Out of all of them, the C8 and C10 are known to increase the ketone levels the most efficiently and are great for energy and brain health.
C8 is due to its length easily digestible and broken into fuel without spending much of its time processing in the liver. It provides an immediate energy source and improves the brain’s mental clarity. It also fights infections as it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It has shown some positive effects on treatments of yeast infection, improving skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatophilosis and even acne. It also helps improve gut health due to its anti-inflammatory properties that prevent the spread of bad bacteria that can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Similarly, the C10 is also easily digestible and is known to help boost the immune system and support digestion. This fatty acid is also very successful in treating and preventing the fungus Candida albicans. It also goes straight to the liver, making digestion easier and faster. C10 also improves bile secretion and cholesterol metabolism which reduces the risk of a leaky gut. The immune system is also improved by the increased ability to fight infections.
Where can I find MCTs?
You can find naturally occurring MCTs in foods such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, whole milk and butter. All these foods are quite high in natural MCTs but they do consist of other fatty acids as well, that can be stored as fat instead of used as energy.
MCT oil is on the other hand a man-made oil that consists mainly of MCTs. It is made with the process of extracting and isolating the medium-chain fatty acids from coconut or palm kernel oil. Coconut oil seems to be the vastest source of MCTs as it holds the biggest percentage of the MCTs.
For overall health, you can add coconut or palm kernel oil to your cooking. However, if you need bigger quantities, MCT oil is usually a better choice. It has no smell and no taste, it can be consumed as it is sold, or you can add it to your drinks and food.
You can also use MCT powders that have similar nutritional values as MCT oil but may be more convenient and are easy to use.
The difference between MCT oil and MCT Powder
The MCT powder is created by spray drying. This is converting MCTs from liquid to solid, powdered form. This form of MCT has only recently arrived on the market and it usually consists of 50% to 80% of dried MCT oil.
Compared to MCT oils, MCT powder is usually considered more convenient. It is lightweight and can be used on the go. It is usually very easily blended and mixed in any liquid from a smoothie to a protein shake and coffee. MCT oil has an oily texture, like your everyday plant-based oil.
A small advantage of taking MCT powder instead of MCT oil is the less stressful role it has on your digestive system. MCT oils can sometimes cause negative digestive issues such as diarrhoea, upset stomach or even nausea. If you do decide to take MCT oil it is very important to start from a small amount such as a teaspoon and work your way up to larger quantities. There have been fewer digestive problems reported when taking MCT powders, but a smaller quantity to start is still advised. Not only to get your body used to it but to also avoid an excess amount to be eliminated from your body and possibly distressing your body due to large ketone production.
A big plus of MCT powder is its creamy texture and a lot of people use it instead of the creamer or milk in their coffees or teas. It can also be easily added to baked goods.
When buying MCT powders you have to check the ingredients for any hidden filters or sweeteners that reduce the powder’s effectiveness. Our MCT oil powder only contains medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil, Acacia Fibre and Silicon Dioxide. Acacia Fibre is a short-chain fatty acid beneficial for gut health. Silicon Dioxide is added to ensure the powder does not clump together and form a sticky substance. It is generally safe as a food additive and there is little to no risk to human health. Our Pureagen MCT oil powder is also 100% ketogenic which means it has no added carbs or glucose. There are no added synthetic ingredients, it is vegan, GM-free, gluten-free and Halal and Kosher friendly.
MCT Supplement Benefits
Research is still quite new and there had been mixed results but overall several studies showed that MCT powder might help with weight loss and increasing the body’s ability to burn more fat and calories. Additionally, a study also found that MCT powder might also promote the feeling of fullness by increasing peptide YY and leptin which both help reduce appetite.
MCT supplements may also enhance exercise performance due to providing the body with an energy source without the extra calories compared to carbohydrates. This is the reason a lot of athletes and bodybuilders are such fans of MCT oils and powders.
Other benefits of the MCT supplements include lower cholesterol levels. In both human and animal studies the subjects who consumed MCT supplements showed reduced levels of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and an increase in HDL (the good) cholesterol levels. Improvements in cholesterol levels can lead to reduced risks of heart diseases.
However, some evidence is mixed and it should be understood that MCT supplements alone will not necessarily benefit your cholesterol levels. Other factors should be considered such as diet, daily exercise and daily lifestyle.
Another potential benefit of MCT supplements is also helping lower blood sugar levels and potentially improving diabetes risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes. All of the research, however, is old and should be re-examined in order to make more definite conclusions.
Brain function is another bodily function potentially benefiting from MCT supplements. As mentioned above, MCTs produce ketones, an alternative energy source. Ketones improve learning, brain processing and memory in people with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Again, the research while positive is still outdated and done on a small sample. More research is needed to confirm any results more firmly.
On a daily basis, the MCT supplements can benefit liver disease, steatorrhea and diarrhoea. MCT supplements are also great in malnutrition cases. It has also been
used to help with conditions that cause food absorption issues such as coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis and gallbladder disease.
Another big well-known benefit of MCTs is the reduction of lactate build-up. Lactate acid build-up is a result of your muscles getting low on oxygen while working out. It can cause muscle pain, muscle cramps and muscular fatigue. MCTs have shown some promising results in lowering the levels of the acid in your body. This can improve your recovery time and minimise the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It is quite beneficial to take the MCT powder within one hour of finishing your workout for it to have the best effects on the lactate acid build-up.
MCT Oil and Powder Side Affects
There have been no reported negative interactions with any other medication and no serious side effects.
Some minor side effects such as nausea, vomiting or an upset stomach have been noted but those can easily be avoided by consuming small doses at the start and gradually increasing the amount you take. Like any major changes to your diet adding supplements to your daily routine should be discussed with your doctor and implementing regular monitoring of your cholesterol levels is also advised.
Contrary to the patients with type 2 diabetes, the patients with type 1 diabetes might be advised against taking MCT supplements. Ketones while overall beneficial in healthy individuals may cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis. The ketones lower the levels of insulin too low so your body cannot process high levels of glucose in your blood.
Are MCT supplements Vegan?
MCT oil supplements are a very popular as an alternative to diary and used in coffee by people that follow a vegan diet. However not all MCT supplements are completely vegan. Check the ingredients as some companied add milk protein.
How to use MCT Oil Powder?
MCT oil powder can be added to any drink or smoothie or even in recipes and home made chocolates. There is no fixed dosage or a defined tolerable amount, but if you have never used MCT oil before you should start with one tablespoon a day and increase the amount slowly. A maximum of 4 to 7 tablespoons have been suggested.
Tips and Reminders
When buying MCT supplements pay attention to the percentage of lauric acid which is saturated fat and not a MCT. Most commercially sold coconut oils have a high percentage of it, so make sure you read the ingredients.
Don’t forget, the field of MCT oils, powders and weight loss is still new and still needs to be researched more. While some studies showed no results at all, other studies did show that MCT supplements increase fat loss. Do keep that in mind and also know that there have been no real negative side effects so there should be no harm in you trying to incorporate the MCT powders or MCT oils into your diet.
The correlation between enhanced exercise performance and MCT supplements is weak as more studies with bigger samples are needed. Overall there is no harm in using MCT powder as a pre-workout drink.
You shouldn’t mix ketosis with Diabetic ketoacidosis. While Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition in patients with type 1 diabetes, ketosis is completely harmless and it's the result of a KETO diet, a low carbohydrate diet.
While there are no dramatic effects of taking MCT supplements such as huge weight loss or complete fat loss, there is a lot of small benefits that you can experience. Therefore adding MCT oils and powders to your diet might be worth trying.
If you want to know more about the MCT oils and powders you can check out this blog (add blog from Pureagen) and follow us on our social media (add handles) for more fun and educational content.