Around 34% of the American adult population has high cholesterol levels. Given the health risks associated with high cholesterol, there is an increased interest in looking for ways to live and eat healthier. One such trend is the ketogenic diet.
However, many people find it challenging to follow a low-carb, high-fat regimen as it can cause fatigue and weakness. If so, you may want to consider the benefits of MCT oil — particularly in combating the symptoms of ketosis.
You may be asking, what is MCT oil, and how can I benefit from it? Here's what you need to know about this unique fatty acid.
What Is MCT Oil?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are a significant form of fatty acid in the bloodstream. It is composed of 2 to 3 saturated or unsaturated fatty acids linked by 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
MCTs are commonly found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cheese, butter, milk, and other dairy products. When ingested, MCTs can be converted to ketones — a good source of energy in the body.
MCT vs LCT
There are three types of triglycerides: short-chain (SCT), medium-chain, and long-chain (LCT). SCTs are linked by 1 to 6 carbon atoms, while 13 to 21 carbon atoms link LCTs.
Compared to SCTs and LCTs, MCTs have unique properties that could lead to health benefits. This has something to do with how the body metabolizes them.
Around 95 to 100% of the fat in a typical diet are LCTs. Since LCTs are longer, they are digested, repackaged to chylomicrons, and sent to the lymphatic system. As they make their way to the liver, excess fat cells are stored in the body for later use.
In comparison, MCTs are shorter, so they digest easily. They are transported directly to the liver, immediately converted into ketones, and used by the body as energy.
Fatigue and weakness associated with a keto diet are primarily because of the low-carb component. As such, the body does not have enough glucose —which is the body's primary energy source. MCTs are a good alternative because they can immediately boost your energy levels.
MCT Oil Benefits: How These Fatty Acids Can Support Your Health
Though more scientific research is still needed, existing literature has associated MCTs with specific health benefits, including:
1. Weight Management
MCTs may help increase satiety, which in turn, reduces food intake. In one study, healthy participants who took MCT during breakfast had longer wait times between meals than the control group.
Another study posited that substituting MCT for LCT can help prevent long-term weight gain. They found that those who consumed an MCT diet had greater energy expenditure and fat oxidation than those who had an LCT diet.
Researchers hypothesize that the mechanisms of satiety could be due to the faster absorption rates of MCTs, their ability to increase ketone bodies and that MCTs have appetite-suppressing effects.
2. Mood and Cognitive Function
Animal studies suggest that MCTs may readily cross the blood-brain barrier and be easily oxidized by the brain. It has been established that the brain contains up to 60% fat and that these fatty acids play an essential role in brain integrity and function.
By providing extra brain fuel, MCTs could have neuroprotective qualities such as preserving cognitive function.
In one study, patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's Disease who ingested 20 grams of MCTs for up to 12 weeks showed improvements in logical memory tests, verbal memory, and processing speed.
Animal studies also found that MCTs may exert anxiolytic effects and improve mood.
3. Heart Health
Higher levels of excess fat cells from LCTs can lead to higher cholesterol levels, thereby increasing your risk of heart disease and metabolic syndromes.
Animal studies have found that subjects who ingested MCTs had lower fat deposition and better glucose tolerance than those who consumed LCTs. MCTs may also help protect against cardiovascular diseases by improving lipid profiles.
4. Athletic Performance
Since MCTs can provide immediate fuel, they can give you an energy boost during physical activity. In one study, endurance cyclists who drank beverages with CHO and MCT demonstrated a 2.5% improvement during a time-trial performance. However, it should be noted that the participants ingested up to 85 grams of MCTs and the participants were able to tolerate that large dose.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take For MCT Oil To Give You Energy?
MCT Oil can give you the energy boost you need in 15 minutes. It's good to take MCT oil before engaging in physical activity or even important events to boost performance and maximize the other benefits of MCT oil.
Does MCT Oil Affect Sleep?
MCT oil can give you the energy you need at the start of the day. But taking MCT oil at night can be beneficial as well. It can promote a better quality of sleep.
MCTs also provide fuel to the brain and body so that they can repair and recharge while you sleep. You can wake up feeling more recharged and alert the following day.
Who Should Not Take MCT?
Since MCTs are still fatty acids, people with certain conditions such as heart disease, fatty liver, or liver deficiencies should avoid taking MCT oil. MCTs may also interfere with some medications, so it's important to consult your primary healthcare provider before starting on MCT.
For healthy individuals, we also recommend gradually introducing MCT oil to your diet to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms.
Is MCT Oil Just Coconut Oil?
MCT oil is a concentrated formula that contains pure MCTs. So even though MCT oil is sourced from coconut oil and other sources, it has a higher concentration of MCTs. Nonetheless, coconut oil is still a good source if you want to incorporate MCTs into your diet.
Incorporating MCT Oil Into Your Diet
Existing literature on MCTs has illustrated the health benefits of MCT oil. These unique fatty acids can provide immediate fuel to the body. MCTs are not stored as excess fat compared to LCTs from animal and plant sources.
Through these mechanisms, MCTs can help with better weight management, improved mood and cognitive function, and enhanced athletic performance.
If you want to lower cholesterol levels, improve adherence to keto, or simply live a healthier lifestyle, you may want to consider incorporating MCT oil into your diet.
MCT oil is commonly sourced from coconut oil or palm kernel oil and, as such, is regarded as safe to consume. They also do not have any odor or taste, so it's easy to add to foods or beverages. Some MCTs are combined with other healthy ingredients to boost their potential health effects.
At Xendurance, we offer Creamer & Adaptogens, which is enriched with organic coconut oil and goMCT® Oil. This is so that you can experience the diverse health benefits of MCT oil like enhanced mental clarity and elevated mood. It is also infused with adaptogens, KSM-66 Ashwagandha, and reishi which can help you keep calm and deal with stress effectively.
Our proprietary blend of ingredients ensures maximum production of ketones — giving you that energy boost you need to take on the challenges and stressors of everyday life.