What is MCT Oil? MCT Oil Versus Coconut Oil? Benefits of MCT Oil
MCT oil has become increasingly popular over the last while and various experts are recommending it. There has also been some confusion or rather incorrect information out there that coconut oil can be used as an MCT oil.
In this article I will explain MCT oil, it’s benefits and the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil.
What Is MCT Oil
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and is also known as MCFA, medium chain Fatty Acids. They are the healthier type of saturated fats that are found in mostly in tropical plants like coconuts and palm fruit and a few other foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter. You can find the concentrated oils in health stores and online to add to your diet too.
Why is this oil important to add in your diet? When you are let’s say 100 kgs and after some hard work, you lose 20 kgs and come down to 80 kgs, there is a hormone in the body that regulates the hunger. At 80 kgs this hormone which regulates the appetite gives you hunger for 100 kgs and you tend to eat more. This is the reason most of the diets do not work and you tend you gain the weigh that you have lost. MCT manuplates this hunger hormone and adjust your hunger according to present body weight.
There are Four Types of MCT Oil:
1. Caproic Acid (C6)
Caproic acid is quickly digested by the body and used as fuel. The only thing is that caproic acid tastes very bad and can cause your throat to burn and can upset your stomach. Most blends of MCT oils will reduce or remove caproic acid from the blend because of this. So forget C6, its out of picture.
2. Caprylic Acid (C8)
Caprylic acid bypasses the liver during digestion which means that it’s digested quickly and can be used as fuel very soon after consumption. It also has a much better taste than caproic acid does. Caprylic acid is the quickest to be used as energy for your brain and body. It is, however, the rarest MCT oil and is very expensive because of that. I use the one which is 100% C8 although it is very expensive. C means carbon and shorter the carbon chain, in this case, 8 molecules, easier it will convert to energy.
3. Capric Acid (C10)
Capric acid like caprylic acid also bypasses the liver during digestion and is quickly used by your body for energy and just like caprylic acid, it tastes much better than caproic acid. Though it’s also rare, it’s not as rare as caprylic acid which makes it cheaper. If you cannot find c8 pure, look for C8 and C10. The more C8, more is better. Now you can compare two MCT oils easily.
4. Lauric Acid (C12)
Though it’s called an MCT oil, lauric acid is, in fact, not a true MCT oil. While it is a medium chain triglyceride, your body doesn’t digest it the same way as it does the other three MCT oils. Lauric acid first has to go through your liver which makes the digestion process slower. There are so many companies selling C12 and named it as MCT oil. So be careful when you buy one. Look for C8 and C10 only.
There are still health benefits to lauric acid. It has antibacterial properties, helps to increase your levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and aids weight loss, but don’t pay the higher price of an MCT oil for it.
I hope now, you can take an informed decision when buying MCT oil
MCT Oil Versus Coconut Oil
Now, the question comes should we use coconut oil. My answer is definitely yes! For example, I do not cook with MCT oil because it is so expensive, I want every drop of it in my body. In cooking a lot is left in the pan etc. Also, if I cook some food sometimes the whole family wants to eat the dish and if they are not used to eating MCT oil, this can give them a stomach ache.
Also, I use coconut oil more externally as a head massage, body massage, oil pulling etc.
This is the breakdown of the fats in coconut oil:
Coconut contains the following fatty acids:
- Lauric acid (C12)-50% or more: This is the biggest reason that coconut oil can’t be used as you would an MCT oil. One of the biggest benefits of MCT oils is that they don’t go through the liver first when digested. Lauric acid as mentioned above goes through the liver which slows down the digestion process and doesn’t supply energy to your body as quickly.
- Capric acid (C10)-9%: The second most abundant MCT oil in coconut oil is capric acid, and that amount is only around 9%. This is not enough to overcome the lauric acid and ensure quick digestion and energy.
- Caprylic Acid (C8)-6%: Lastly, caprylic acid makes up only 6% of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is also made up of a few other fatty acids but mostly in small quantities. Basically, because coconut oil is made up mostly of lauric acid which is digested differently to true MCT oils, it can’t be used as an MCT oil.
Coconut oil still has many benefits like being antibacterial, great for skin and hair, and improving your heart health by converting the LDL (bad) cholesterol into a healthier form. It also increases the HDL (good) cholesterol. It’s also one the best oils that you can use for cooking and much cheaper to cook with than MCT oil.
Benefits Of MCT Oil
The benefits of MCT oil stem mainly from the fact that these oils are digested so quickly and easily. Everyone will find that MCT oil can greatly benefit their health.
The main benefits are:
- Energy for those on a ketogenic diet: Because MCT oil encourages the body to burn fat as energy so it’s great for those on a low-carb high-fat diet. People who eat a normal diet with lots of carbohydrates mainly get their energy from the carbohydrates. Those who are on a ketogenic diet get theirs from fat so MCT oil is very beneficial. I am one of them.
- Easy digestion for those with no gallbladder or other issues with digestion: Because the digestion process is so quick and the liver is bypassed it’s a lot easier on your stomach. You will find that your body won’t struggle as much to digest the MCT oil and that you will have more energy. Start with one teaspoon a day and increase the amount slowly.
- Energy for athletes: MCT oil is converted into energy very quickly compared to other foods and oils. It’s an ideal source of energy for athletes, either before, during or after a workout when energy is needed quickly.
- Benefits your gut: MCT oils are good for your digestive system. Your body doesn’t need to work as hard to digest them as the other foods and it helps your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K better during digestion.
- Keeps you fuller for longer: While all fats help you to feel fuller than fat-free meals, the MCT oils do it the best. You won’t get cravings or overeat due to constant hunger pangs or sudden drops in energy.
- Antioxidants: MCT oils are full of antioxidants which protect your body from harmful free radicals and toxins. These antioxidants also protect against many illnesses and premature aging.
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight and aid in weight loss: Because MCT oils encourage your body to burn fat for energy it can help you get rid of excess fat. They also help to balance your hormones as fat helps to transport and make many hormones in the body. Balanced hormones can help you to maintain a healthy weight as well as feel great.
- Fewer calories per gram: MCT oils have fewer calories than other types of saturated fat which are known as LCT oils or long chain triglycerides. This is another reason why they’re great for people who want to lose weight.
Uses Of MCT oil
MCT oil is quite versatile and can be used on your skin and hair as shaving lotion, skin lotion and hair conditioner. To reap the internal health benefits you should be eating it. MCT oils are very neutral flavored so they can be used in food without affecting the flavor. MCT oil is quite pricey, so don’t cook with it every day, rather use coconut oil for that.
You can try these ideas:
- Mix it into your sports drinks for an energy boost.
- Use it as a salad dressing.
- You can cook with it, but don’t use it above temperatures of 110°C or 320°F.
- Bake with it by substituting part of the oil in the recipe with MCT oil. Only use it to bake foods that bake at low temperatures.
- Try it in coffee. Click here for the recipe.
Best MCT Oils
You should be able to get MCT oil from the foods and get the benefits that way. But if you are an athlete, have digestive or gallbladder problems, you may want to include the concentrated forms.
The two best MCT oils to take are caprylic acid and capric acid. The best option is to get a blend of the two to make sure that you can get all the benefits at a more reasonable price. Here’s why:
1. Caprylic Acid
Caprylic acid (C8) has the shortest carbon structure aside from caproic acid (C6). But because caproic acid (C6) tastes so strange and can upset your stomach it isn’t a good choice. The shorter carbon structure is the reason caprylic acid digests so quickly and easily.
The fatty acids are then sent directly to your liver where they can be used for energy. Caprylic is especially good for your brain. You will experience clearer thinking and physical vitality, so it’s the perfect addition to your morning coffee or breakfast. This is the one that I use.
2. Capric Acid
Capric acid (C10) has a slightly longer carbon structure than caprylic acid so as explained in the beginning of the article it’s digested a little bit slower than caprylic acid, but it’s still sent directly to your liver to be used for fuel for your body.
Precautions While Using MCT Oil
If you start taking a high dose too quickly, you can end up with side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most brands of MCT oils recommend taking anything between 1 and 3 tablespoons per day but build up your dose slowly, starting from 1 Tbsp per day.
Another issue can be that the blend of MCT oils that you bought didn’t have enough of the caproic acid (C6) removed. As mentioned, including tasting unpleasant it can also cause irritation to your digestive tract, including your throat. Always make sure that you get a good quality blend from a reputable brand.
There has been some concern regarding the use of MCT oil by type 1 diabetics. This was because constantly burning fat for energy may cause ketoacidosis which is a very serious condition for diabetics that can lead to a coma or even death if not treated in time. But studies have shown that the use of MCT oil doesn’t lead to ketoacidosis in diabetics if used correctly.
It’s still best to be cautious, but in small doses, MCT oils are still beneficial to you even if you are a diabetic.
- MCT oil is a healthy form of saturated fat. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides.
- MCT oils are easily digested and provide energy to the body quickly.
- This makes them beneficial for everyone but especially those with no gallbladder or digestive problems as well as athletes.
- They can help your body burn fat for energy which makes them great for anyone on a ketogenic diet.
- MCT oils aid weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. It helps to balance your hormones and reduce cravings.
- MCT oils are full of antioxidants that will improve your overall health.