The 7 Health Benefits of MCT Oil Backed by Science

MCT oil benefits range from weight loss to increased energy to lowered blood sugar levels. If you’re curious about this health supplement, keep reading.

You may have heard the word MCT oil from someone or an online resource about the ketogenic diet. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. These are fat molecules found in coconut oil or palm kernel oil 1.

If you’re following a keto diet, MCT oil makes a wonderful source of quality fats. You can add MCT oil in coffee, salads, and low-carb desserts.

This article shows you seven best reasons why you should incorporate it into your diet.

1. Provides an Instant Source of Energy

One of the most popular MCT oil uses is to boost your energy. When you consume it, it raises your ketones. These are chemicals made by your liver after it breaks down fat.

Ketones effectively fuel your brain and muscles.

Recent studies show that beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the main ketone produced in ketosis, is a superfuel. This is because BHB provides more energy compared to glucose 2.

No wonder why MCTs are being added to energy bars, sports drinks, and even special baby food 3.

One study revealed that it can boost exercise performance by increasing metabolism and mitochondrial mass 4.

For those who don’t know, mitochondria are your cell’s “powerplants.” They generate ATP, an energy molecule.

2. Helps Promote Weight Loss

MCT oil for weight loss is a huge benefit. It’s a top reason why a lot of females take it.

Aside from reducing carbs, you should also consider supplementing with MCTs. In fact, one study found that between MCT and olive oil, it’s MCT that improves weight loss 5.

Here are the ways that this supplement does it:

  • Medium-chain triglycerides don’t accumulate as fat in your body. This is because of their chain length – they contain 7-12 carbon atoms 5.
  • Since MCTs increase your energy, you’ll be able to train harder during a workout. This leads to a greater fat loss.
  • They make you eat less food by increasing your satiety. In a study, 15 healthy individuals were asked to consume a breakfast smoothie that contained either MCT oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil. The results confirmed that MCT oil boosted satiety more than the other oils 6.

Because the body burns them quickly, MCT fats don’t wind up on your waistline.

In fact, MCT fats rev up thermogenesis – the process in which your body burns fat to produce heat – so they actually increase the number of calories you burn. As a result, MCT oil can help you win the battle against belly fat,” says Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND.

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How much MCT oil should you take a day?

If you’re just starting out, we recommend 1 tablespoon daily for up to 2 weeks. This dosage is well-tolerated.

Consuming more than a tablespoon could cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. These are typical MCT oil side effects.

Keep in mind that at this point, your body still needs to adapt to this type of fat. That is why starting small helps.

3. Can Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease by Lowering Bad Cholesterol

Let’s talk about cholesterol and heart health.

Based on stats, heart disease is a leading cause of death in both men and women in the US.

High LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels also increases the risk of heart disease. They cause fatty buildup in the walls of your arteries 7.

Being overweight, having diabetes, and an unhealthy diet are also risk factors.

According to research, MCT oil has a positive impact on a person’s weight and blood lipids. Therefore, it improves cardiovascular health 8.

A recent study showed that medium-chain triglycerides and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) boost the effect of fish oil 9.

This is good news to those who already take fish oil for heart disease prevention.

4. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by high glucose levels.

One of the MCT oil benefits that’s worth mentioning is its ability to balance your blood sugar.

A study showed that a high-fat MCT diet prevented fasting glucose and insulin levels from increasing 10.

University researchers also demonstrated that ketone supplements reduce spikes in blood sugar 11.

This could help explain why MCT improves glycemic control. Recall that it stimulates ketone production in the body.

5. Improves Cognitive Function and Helps Manage Brain Disorders

What does MCT oil do for the brain?

Ketones that are produced by MCT cross the blood-brain barrier. They supply your brain with readily available energy, especially during fasting or when eating a low-carb keto diet 12.

Lisa Richards, a Nutritionist at the Candida Diet, says,

The type of fat in MCT oil may improve brain function, specifically from a cognitive perspective.”

One study found that MCT supplementation improved the memory of subjects with mild cognitive impairment 13.

Another study in Alzheimer’s Disease patients showed that consuming MCTs enabled them to benefit from additional ketones for brain fuel 14.

In traumatic brain injury, the brain looks for alternative energy sources like ketones. Interestingly, ketones have brain-protective qualities. This benefit can be achieved through an MCT-rich diet – such as the ketogenic diet 15.

6. Helps Prevent Carb Cravings

A lot of people find that they have fewer cravings with MCT oil.

It reduces your appetite and increases your feeling of fullness so that you eat less. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to break your addiction to carbs and sugar.

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Fat is a satiating macronutrient.

Between medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCTs) and long-chain triacylglycerols (LCTs), it’s the MCTs that lead to lower food intake 16, 17.

This is also why this supplement is encouraged during the keto flu. It helps alleviate unpleasant symptoms by providing a good source of fat.

7. Fights Yeast and Bacterial Growth

Among the best MCT oil benefits, it’s probably this that surprised you.

Yes, MCT has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Researchers added low concentrations of MCT oil in the formulas of pre-term infants who had the fungus C. albicans in their guts. The result? It effectively reduced the fungus 18.

Another study demonstrated the ability of medium-chain fatty acids to stop bacterial growth in hospital-acquired antibiotic-related diarrhea. Among the different MCTs, lauric acid (C12) had the highest ability to kill bacteria 19.

 

Is MCT oil good for you? If you’re looking to increase your fitness, health, and satiety, yes we’ve got studies to support its effects. However, take note of potential side effects such as stomach upset and diarrhea. Some people can tolerate it better at lower doses.

Conclusion

Now that you know how MCT oil works in the body, you might want to give it a try. It’s great especially for those who are on a low-carb diet.

You need these healthy fats for ketone production, plus the benefits that come with them.

When it comes to MCT oil dosage, start with the lowest possible dose. Take 1 tablespoon daily by adding it to your coffee or food. Also, you might want to consider using it occasionally instead of daily.

This should give your body ample time to adjust.

What else about MCT oil do you want to know? Let us know in the comments below.

REFERENCES:

  1. Volpe, SL. Medium-Chain Triglycerides and Health. 2019 - https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Citation/2020/01000/Medium_Chain_Triglycerides_and_Health.10.aspx

  2. Cahill GF Jr, Veech RL. Ketoacids? Good medicine? 2003 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12813917

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