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Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a popular diet supplement. It is a liquid oil produced from coconut or palm kernel oils that are used as a nutritional supplement, cooking oil, and cosmetic component.
MCT is coconut oil. It’s been used for food and medicinal for ages. It may assist with weight reduction, but it has certain drawbacks as well.
MCT, a healthy saturated fatty acid, has been linked to numerous health benefits. Among the MCT oil, benefits include enhanced cognitive function and weight loss/healthy weight management.
Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), which make up around 62-65% of the fatty acids in the oil. But recently, “MCT oil” has acquired popularity.
MCTs are rare in “normal Western” diets due to the prevalent belief that all saturated fats are harmful.
The antimicrobial properties of MCTs, for example, seem to be helpful to brain and gut health.
What Is MCT Oil and How Does It Work?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a kind of saturated fatty acid. Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are another name for them.
- MCT oil is made up of what? It’s an entirely natural source of fatty acids. Because of the length of their chemical structure, MCTs are given their name. Strings of linked carbon and hydrogen make up all kinds of fatty acids.
- The number of carbon atoms in a fat determines its classification: Short-chain fats (butyric acid) have less than six carbons, medium-chain fats contain six to 12 carbons, and long-chain fats (such as fats) omega-3s) include 13–21 carbons.
- MCTs are more accessible to absorb than longer-chain fatty acids because the body has to perform less effort to break down carbon bonds. In addition, because MCTs are smaller, they may readily pass through our cell membranes and do not need the employment of specific enzymes to be used by our systems.
What makes MCT oil such a good source of healthy fats? Medium-chain fats are readily digested and sent to your liver, where they have a thermogenic impact and the potential to change your metabolism for the better.
This is one of the reasons why many people believe MCTs, such as coconut oil, are used by the body for energy rather than being stored as fat.
Traditional tropical cultures have been eating saturated fats, including MCT sources like coconuts, for hundreds of years with no adverse consequences, so consider the notion that a low-fat diet is “healthy” to be one of the greatest nutrition falsehoods ever!
MCTs, come in various forms, some of which are likely to be more effective than others. MCTs are divided into four categories:
- Capricorn (acid C6:0)
- caprylic acid (acid C8:0)
- capricious (acid C10:0)
- Laurel (acid C12:0)
In general, the shorter the chain (i.e., the fewer carbons in the acid), the quicker the body can convert the fatty acids into useable energy in the form of the ketone. When the body uses fat for energy instead of glucose, ketones are produced following the keto diet.
Regardless of the kind of MCT, they are all helpful to general health — particularly for individuals who have trouble digesting other types of fats, such as those who suffer from malabsorption issues, digestive diseases such as leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, gallbladder infections, and so on.
What is the purpose of MCT oil? Some of the advantages of MCTs and why individuals opt to supplement with them are listed below.
1. Aids in weight loss and maintenance (Including on the Keto Diet)
MCTs have been proven to boost metabolism and help you lose weight.
When taken as part of a balanced diet, MCT oil may enhance satiety and even metabolic rate.
Does this mean taking MCTs consistently will help you lose weight? Sadly, this is not the case.
While not all studies have linked MCT oil to weight loss, some have improved metabolic performance.
Compared to long-chain triglycerides, MCTs had a more significant effect on energy expenditure, body composition, and fat oxidation in obese women, according to a 2003 Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders study (LCTs). Also, replacing LCTs with MCTs improved energy expenditure and fat burning, avoiding long-term weight gain.
Unpublished data from randomized controlled studies examined the effects of long-chain and medium-chain fat intake on body weight, fat mass, and body composition. The study groups ate similar lipids in terms of calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake.
The MCT group lost more weight and fat than the LCT group, according to the study.
Experimental investigations show that dietary MCTs inhibit fat formation by increasing thermogenesis and fat oxidation in animals and humans. In other words, it’s thought that they aid in the production of ketones in the body, providing the same advantages as the keto diet without the need to reduce carb intake significantly.
MCTs are often called “the ultimate ketogenic diet fats” because of their capacity to heal the body and be utilized for energy quickly, particularly when not consuming many carbs. This makes them ideal for the keto diet since they assist the body to achieve ketosis, and they’re also one of the most refined Paleo foods to eat.
2. Aids in the prevention of heart disease
What are the health advantages of MCT oil for the cardiovascular system? MCTs can help prevent the development of metabolic syndrome, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods. Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe conditions that include metabolic disorders such as abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and impaired fasting glucose levels.
In a 2018 research, MCTs were shown to have a more significant preventive impact on cardiovascular health in rats given a high-fat diet than LCTs. This is believed to be because MCTs improve serum lipid profiles while also lowering total hepatic cholesterol.
MCTs seem to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in general by lowering the likelihood of becoming fat. They most likely have this beneficial impact because, as previously said, they are anti-inflammatory, simple to digest, satiating, and readily utilized for energy.
3. It may boost your energy, mood, and performance.
As fatty acids make up the majority of your brain, you’ll need a constant supply of your food to feel your best, think clearly, perform well at work, and remain sharp as you get older.
Medium-chain fats are thought to be the easiest to digest, use, and preserve fatty acids available. Thus, they may be particularly beneficial for those who follow highly low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet, since studies indicate that they can decrease the adverse effects of keto-induction and shorten the time it takes to reach ketosis.
MCTs have been shown in specific trials to assist people with memory difficulties, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease. According to 2018 research, using MCTs while on the ketogenic diet helped individuals with Alzheimer’s disease improve their symptoms.
It seems to reason that a meal that provides brain fuel while also aiding in the absorption of vitamins and minerals would make you feel more clear-headed, energetic, and happy.
MCTs have also been found to boost exercise performance during moderate- and high-intensity exercise in other studies, including one published in Plos One in 2018.
4. Aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients
MCT oil and coconut oil help balance bacteria in the gut microbiome, which has a favorable impact on digestive symptoms, energy expenditure, and the capacity to absorb vitamins and minerals from meals.
Medium-chain fats may aid in killing a variety of pathogenic viruses, strains, and bacteria that cause digestive problems such as candida, constipation, diarrhea, food poisoning, stomachaches, etc.
Fatty acids are also required for the absorption of specific vitamins and minerals present in different meals. Beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A found in plants such as berries, squash, and leafy greens), vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and lutein are among them.
5. It is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
MCTs have antibacterial characteristics and may aid in bacterial equilibrium in the stomach.
Medium-chain lipids are known to fight the following bacteria:
- streptococcus mutans (which causes strep throat, pneumonia, and sinus infections)
- strep throat strep (which causes food poisoning and urinary tract infections)
- Neisseria gonorrhoeae (which causes meningitis, gonorrhea, and pelvic inflammatory diseases)
- certain other types cause gastrointestinal viruses, candida, ulcers, and sexually transmitted illnesses.
Another advantage of MCTs is that they may reduce “bad bacteria” without hurting or eliminating “good bacteria.” This is significant because we need the healthy type for gut health and digestion.
According to some research, medium-chain fatty acids provide more excellent protection against infections than longer-chain fatty acids. For example, according to a study published, when fatty acids and monoglycerides with chain lengths ranging from eight to twelve carbons were added to milk and formula, they were shown to be more antiviral and antibacterial than long-chain monoglycerides in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
A variety of viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), Haemophilus influenza, and streptococcus, were inactivated by adding medium-chain lipids to milk (lipid-enhanced milk) and formula.
MCT oil has also been found to help regulate inflammatory reactions by modulating mitochondrial activity in other studies. This is thought to be because MCT oil reduces the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines while increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
6. Can withstand high-heat cooking
MCT oils are ideal for cooking because they have a high “smoke point,” which means they don’t readily oxidize when exposed to heat. This is essential because certain cooking oils (such as extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil, for example) are not well-suited for high-temperature cooking and may quickly turn rancid.
MCT oil does not oxidize and may be used in baked products, sautés, stir-fries, and grilled meals.
Side Effects and Risks
What are the negative consequences of MCT oil? Given that it occurs naturally in certain meals, most individuals can handle it well.
When MCT oil side effects occur, they are typically mild and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.
Start with a small dosage, such as one teaspoon, and gradually increase to one to two teaspoons per day to prevent side effects. Taking this supplement with meals may assist in alleviating stomach issues and other side effects.
Because high MCT intake may affect cardiovascular disease risk factors in individuals at risk for heart disease, consult your doctor before beginning an MCT regimen or a high-fat diet if this applies to you.
Coconut Oil vs. MCT Oil
What is the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil? Coconut oil contains MCTs (exceptionally high amounts of lauric acid), as well as antimicrobial capabilities, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other nutrients.
What is the difference between MCT oil and coconut oil? The significant difference is that MCT oil is considerably more concentrated and mainly comprises capric and caprylic acids.
MCTs may be found in coconut oil, although it also includes other kinds of fatty acids. While coconut oil does contain MCTs, concentrated MCT oil is nearly entirely made up of MCTs.
- There are four distinct MCT types, each with different carbons attached to the fat molecules. (This is made up of six to twelve carbon atoms.)
- Coconut oil contains approximately 50% of one kind of MCT (lauric acid), including the other three in variable quantities.
- On the other hand, MCT oil is made from fatty acids derived from coconut and palm oil and is often made up of capric acid, caprylic acid, or a combination of the two.
- One of the most acceptable sources of lauric acid is coconut oil. Although approximately 90% of the lipids in coconut oil are saturated, a significant portion of them is not the highly short-chain MCTs, which contain fewer carbons. (The number of calories in lauric acid is 12.)
Although coconut oil and MCT oil producers in the United States are legally permitted to advertise that lauric acid is a kind of MCT, the fatty acids known as MCTs and lauric acid function differently in the body.
Some argue that lauric acid does not function physiologically (or at least not as rapidly) as other shorter MCTs, which is one reason why MCT proponents think MCT oil is better.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, has certain well-documented health advantages that concentrated MCT oils may lack. The most significant disadvantage of purchasing produced MCT oil is that you may not know precisely what you’re receiving.
It may be necessary to refine MCT oil more than regular coconut oil to create a liquid MCT oil that does not solidify at lower temperatures.
While some MCT oil marketers claim that their goods include more concentrated and varied MCTs than natural coconut oil, this may be because they’ve been chemically changed. It may also contain “filler” oils such as omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
Another aspect to consider is that most MCT oils on the market are produced via chemical/solvent refining, which may need compounds such as hexane and various enzymes and combustion agents.
What’s the bottom line? Enjoy both for their many advantages — make sure you purchase high-quality goods that indicate what ingredients they include and how they were made.
Sources, Dosage, and Applications
MCTs may be found in a variety of meals as well as as a concentrated supplement. In addition, aside from coconut oil, MCTs may be found in tiny quantities in a variety of other saturated fat-containing foods, such as:
Where may MCT oil be purchased? Look for them on the internet and at health food shops.
Here’s some additional information on the various types:
- Organic MCT oil – Because the manufacturing of MCT oil as a supplement is not well-regulated, you may not know what you’re receiving if you don’t purchase a high-quality product from a respected company you can trust. Always choose a high-quality, preferably organic oil that indicates the components and how it was made.
- MCT oil that hasn’t been emulsified works best in recipes when mixed since it improves the creamy texture.
- MCT oil that has been emulsified — This kind combines considerably better at any temperature. So if you want a creamy quality in your coffee but don’t want to mix it beforehand, emulsified oil is the most acceptable option.
- MCT oil powder – Powders are newer items that may be utilized in the same way as liquid oils are. They’re marketed as a “mess-proof” and “easy” method to add MCTs to smoothies, coffee, baked goods, and other foods.
Caution: Palm oil is a contentious source of MCTs, not because it’s harmful to you, but because the method of getting it is fraught with problems. Deforestation, loss of animal variety, and unethical treatment of employees are among them.
That’s why many experts suggest RSPO-certified palm oil, which originates from companies that value environmental stewardship.
Recommendations for Dosage
Depending on the person’s objectives, MCT doses have ranged from approximately five to 70 grams daily (or 0.17–2.5 ounces) in studies. Some individuals swear straight off the spoon or blend with beverages by taking MCT oil as a daily supplement. It has no flavor or odor. Therefore it’s a good choice if you want to boost your consumption rapidly. However, use caution since a little goes a long way.
Begin with half to one teaspoon per day and gradually increase to one tablespoon each day. While eating MCTs and other fats won’t make you gain weight, portion management is still essential.
If you pour it over a lot of meals (and beverages) every day, the calories may mount up quickly — furthermore, quality is costly, so you’ll want to use it sparingly.
How to Put It to Use in Recipes
The increasing popularity of Dave Asprey’s “The Bulletproof Diet” is likely one of the main reasons MCT oil sales have soared in recent years. According to this nutritional strategy, healthy fats, including MCTs, grass-fed butter, and coconut products, should provide 50 to 70% of your energy.
Bulletproof coffee, the plan’s trademark breakfast, is essentially MCT coffee. It’s a blend of coffee, MCT oil, and butter that claims less appetite, easier fasting, improved brain function, and mental clarity.
Others refer to this combination as “keto coffee.”
How can you make creative use of MCT oil at home without consuming “bulletproof coffee” every morning? Here are some creative ways to include extra MCT oil into your diet:
- In a blender, make homemade mayonnaise (using creamy MCT oil, an egg yolk, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, and salt)
- To make a salad dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl (using MCT oil, raw honey, Dijon mustard, and your favorite herbs)
- Blending it into smoothies, shakes, or yogurt is a great way to incorporate it (which stabilizes your blood sugar since it helps slow down the rate at glucose and fructose sugar molecules are absorbed)
- Using it in baked products (you may replace approximately a third of the coconut oil with MCT oil)
MCT oil is also good for your skin and hair. It may be used in tooth whitening treatments, moisturizers, lip balms, sunscreens, shaving creams, conditioners, face masks, salt scrubs, and essential oil blends at home.
- What exactly is MCT oil? Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a kind of beneficial saturated fatty acid.
- Weight reduction or maintenance, heart health protection, better energy levels and mood, and digestive and nutrition absorption assistance are all scientifically established advantages of MCT oil.
- MCT oil is distinct from coconut oil in that it is more concentrated and has different amounts of MCTs.
- MCT oil also possesses antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal characteristics and the ability to resist high-heat cooking.
- When following a low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet, it’s become fashionable to use MCT oil in coffee.
MCT oil is a type of coconut oil that has been popularized in recent years due to its many health benefits and uses. It can be taken in different forms such as capsules, liquid drops, or added to food.
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