I’ve been reading a ton of conflicting articles lately about coconut oil. One day it’s good for you, the next day it’s horrible for your health. Obviously this is going to cause mass confusion about healthy fats and what’s actually healthy vs. hype, which got me thinking of WHY people tout the benefits of coconut oil: MCTs.
There’s been a lot of talk about MCTs, which is found in coconut oil and is the strain of fat that is the main attraction coconut oil’s health benefits. Many people love using coconut oil because they read that coconut oil is a wonderful source of MCTs. But many of you may be thinking, “What the flip is MCTs?!” So I’m here to give you the lowdown on MCT oil, and why you may just want to source straight up MCT oil vs. using coconut oil.
Oh and I also recently found out that MCTs are found in breast milk, and in a majority of breastfeeding formulas- so if our babies are consuming MCTs, then you know it plays a major roll in healthy development!
What is MCT oil?
MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride. It’s a fatty acid chain that is sourced from a high quality producer, and it contains a ton of touted wellness benefits. There are various types of MCTs, which all have different effects when consumed. When you think of healthy fats, MCT oil definitely is one! I am a huge proponent of including healthy fats to my diet as it helps support our immune system, hormones, and our brain. In addition to all the food sources of healthy fats I include in my diet, I also like adding MCT oil to my morning coffee and smoothies for an extra boost.
The four types of MCTs are: lauric acid, capric acid, carpylic acid, and capronic acid. So – if you are reading up about specific foods and find these acids on the list of nutrition information, it contains MCTs! One thing to note though, is that lauric acid is a longer triglyceride – meaning that it has to get broken down at a slower rate than the others by your liver. The other three MCTs convert to energy very quickly (which is why people love using them)! You will typically find MCT in dairy like cheese, yogurt, and butter, and oils like palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
Since becoming dairy free is trending more and more, the need for MCT oil supplements is increasing, so many brands are creating pure MCT oils to be used in smoothies, salad dressings, and more.
What are the benefits of MCT oil?
Helps keep us full and creates healthy weight management: One thing I love about MCTs is their ability to help us feel fuller so that we wont overeat. Studies have also shown that they may increase metabolism, as well as prevent fat production from eating carbs! Also, this specific study showed that those who used MCTs dropped weight around their waist and hips in a specific time period more than individuals who consumed other types of healthy fats. Me likey! MCTs are also super easily digested, so if you have digestion problems – you’ll more than likely be able to absorb the benefits of MCTs! Oh and another bonus, because MCTs help balance your hormones, specifically insulin sensitivity, you’ll be less likely to struggle from insulin sensitivity which is a common cause of weight gain.
Has fat burning properties: Have you ever heard of ketosis? If not, I wrote about it in this blog post. For those that love experimenting with the keto diet, adding MCT oil to your meals can help you start ketosis. MCT oil is super bioavailable meaning that it gets absorbed easily into your system, and helps you not only increase your energy, but also increase your ketones. Even if you don’t practice a keto diet, the MCT oil can help you turn fat into fuel even when you eat carbs!
Supports the immune system: When it comes to the different types of MCTs, lauric acid may not be the best for those who want extra energy production, but it does contain anti-bacterial, anti-vital, and anti-fungal properties that help fend off pathogens and can help us maintain an optimally working immune system. OH and bonus! It has also been studied to show that it helps balance healthy bacteria in our microbiome, which means that it is a wonderful healthy fat to support a healthy gut.
Provides plant-based energy properties – Great for helping you power through workouts: Because of the ability to create fast sustainable energy by being absorbed quickly, MCTs can help you perform better at high-intensity workouts, as well as increasing muscle strength. MCTs also do not require any internal energy to be used or stored in the body which adds to the fact that it acts quick to provide natural energy.
Helps you better absorb omegas: Studies have been done to show that omega fatty acids like EPA and DHA had an increase in their health benefit effects when they were either taken with, or enriched with MCT? If you love eating your healthy fats containing omegas, adding MCT oil to your day will just enhance the benefits of the other healthy fats you eat even more!
Boosts brain health: Studies have shown how MCT oil helps boost memory and general health of our brain, especially combating brain fog.
Helps keep your heart and liver healthy: MCTs may be able to inhibit toxin buildup in the liver (looking at you heavy boozers!), and has also been shown to lower lipid levels which can lead to high cholesterol.
Why can’t I just consume coconut oil?
Since there are various types of MCTs, experts believe that lauric acid (which is the primary MCT found in coconut oil), is too long of a fatty acid to be considered an MCT. So therefore coconut oil does not provide the MCT punch that synthetic MCT oils provide. Most MCT oil brands create oils using the true medium chain triglycerides to provide quick absorption and break down, and they leave out lauric acid since it takes longer to digest.
Even though lauric acid has a ton of its own health benefits (especially for the immune system), MCT oil is the way to go if you’re looking for quick acting and long lasting natural energy.
How much MCT oil should I take?
If you’ve never used MCT oil before, take baby steps. If you take too much it could cause digestive issues, so if you have a sensitive stomach – find the shortest of the MCTs! I would suggest adding a single tsp to your morning coffee or smoothie and then slowing increasing the dosage to eventually 3 tablespoons. Those that are bulletproof coffee fanatics typically use the carbon C8 MCT which is known as the optimal brain fuel MCT! You can add MCT oil to soups and broths, salad dressings, protein smoothies, morning cup of tea or coffee, or any recipes that cause for low low heat as MCT oil is not meant to be used on the skillet or on high heat.
Here’s a list of brands that I’ve tried and tested if you want to try out MCT oil for yourself.