MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and is the name of a supplement derived from coconut or palm kernel oil, sometimes a mixture of both.
Oftentimes, it is used by bodybuilders and athletes to promote weight loss and increase energy. It has recently become a go-to supplement for these very reasons.
But what exactly can MCT oil do for you, citizen? You are neither a marathoner nor a competitive bodybuilder. Is it worth it?
Let’s look at the potential benefits:
1. It could help you lose weight. This is one of the main reasons for its popularity and it is because ingesting the MCT oil promotes satiety, meaning you don’t feel as hungry afterwards and are less inclined to overeat. The two hunger hormones responsible for the feeling of fullness, peptide YY and leptin, are increased by the use of MCT oil. Additionally, MCTs seem to increase thermogenesis, the process in which your body burns calories to produce heat that can result in weight loss.
2. It could be a good source of energy, as medium-chain fatty acids are converted into ketones in the liver and are quickly converted to energy. There is also an indication that MCTs also provide more efficient energy for the brain and increase focus.
Types of MCTs: determined by the number of carbon atoms
C6: caproic acid
C8: caprylic acid
C10: capric acid
C12: lauric acid
The number of carbon atoms makes it a long-chain , medium chain or short-chain fatty acid. and this determines how quickly the body converts the fat to energy. The medium- chain (MCT) are the preferred energy source, over long-chain for the body to process into ATP to be used by our cells. The short-chain fatty acids (triglycerides) are created in the gut by the breakdown of fiber and undigested sugars.
3. It could help reduce lactate levels and use up fat. Athletes like the effect MCT seems to have on reducing lactate levels and reducing buildup in the muscles, which inhibits performance. Also, if an athlete takes a few spoonfuls of MCT prior to the workout, it seems that the fat is used up and there is less a reliance on carbs for energy.
4. It could help manage epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and autism. There is evidence that MCT oil and a ketogenic diet helps manage these conditions. The keto diet was actually developed as a way to help epileptic children reduce their seizures.
Alzheimer’s impairs the brain’s ability to use sugar (glucose) and it has been found that a ketogenic diet provides ketones that the brain can use instead. MCT oil containing capric acid or caprylic can help with mild Alzheimer’s and short-term brain cognition in people with a certain gene type. This is not conclusive, however it looks promising.
In children with autism, MCT oil and maintaining a six-month keto diet appear to help improve behaviors, along with removing gluten from the diet. It would be important to speak with your pediatrician before moving forward with this dietary change.
5. MCT has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Coconut oil contains many MCTs that reduce candida albicans and Clostridium difficile, thereby reducing infections and thrush. It is helpful for those with a gut imbalance and can ease bloating.
6. It may reduce the risk of heart disease. In a study of 24 overweight men, MCT supplementation resulted in a 12.5% reduction in overall cholesterol levels, while reducing the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing the HDL (good) levels. It also proved to have decreased the C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker for heart disease.
7. It could help manage your blood sugar levels. When MCTs were added to the diet a study found that reductions in body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance occurred. For those who have to inject insulin, MCT helped maintain normal blood sugar levels with 30% less sugar needed.
Before you go off and order a gross of MCT oil, know the downsides.
It could potentially cause your appetite to increase. Some people may feel the hunger hormones stimulated rather than suppressed when using MCT.
It could lead to fat buildup in the liver. High doses of MCT may increase the amount of fat in the liver over the long term, resulting in non-alcoholic fatty liver.
You have probably hear of bulletproof coffee in relation to a keto diet. This is what is added to make this creamy morning latte, made popular by the keto diet. You can also add it to your tea or smoothies. But don’t add sugar because it will negate the benefits of using the MCT oil.
Start with a teaspoon and ease into increasing the dosage slowly to get your body used to the increase in fat.
As with all supplements, it is always important to not overdo it. The suggested safe upper limit for MCT oil is a maximum of 4 to 7 tablespoons per day. And, it goes without saying that MCTs are calorically high, so you must consider this as part of your total fat intake for the day.
Always a great idea to talk to your doctor first before taking any supplements.