MCT Oil: Can it Enhance Your Keto Diet?
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MCT Oil: Can it Enhance Your Keto Diet?

MCT Oil: Can it Enhance Your Keto Diet?

Posted a year ago

Carb Manager Staff

Carb Manager Staff

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Scientific Reviewer

Expert Approved

Due to its ability to improve weight loss and boost energy levels, MCT Oil has become a favorite among Keto Dieters. This supplement quickly converts into ketones which increases energy expenditure and leads to fewer calories stored as fat.[*]

MCT Oil makes it easier to stay in ketosis because it provides a quick source of ketones (which can also help with avoiding the Keto flu!) and can be easily added to many meals and beverages, such as salads, smoothies, and coffee.  

In this Keto Beginner’s Series, you’ll learn what MCT Oil is, how it works, and how it can bring your Keto experience to the next level. 

What is MCT Oil and How Does It Work?

“Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil” doesn’t have much of a ring to it, so it’s frequently abbreviated to MCT Oil

To get a better understanding of what MCT Oil is, it's helpful to understand the following terms:

1) Free Fatty Acids
Fat molecules that contain chains of carbon atoms. Fatty acids are categorized based on how long their carbon chain is.

2) Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA)

Fatty acids that are 6-12 carbons in length. 

3) Triglycerides

Molecules with 3 fatty acids attached to a glycerol “backbone”. This is typically how fats are naturally found in food. The digestive system breaks apart the free fatty acids from the glycerol backbone so that you have glycerol and 3 free fatty acids ready for absorption by the small intestine.  

4) Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Triglycerides that specifically have three medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) attached to them. 

In addition, it's helpful to understand that the number of carbons has an impact on how the fatty acid is absorbed and used by the body

Most commonly, this highly beneficial supplement is derived from coconut oil. However, MCTs are also found in other foods, including dairy products and palm oil. 

Now, you’re probably wondering what sets MCT Oil apart from other fats that are commonly found in your favorite foods.

While long-chain fatty acids are typically made of 14 to 24 carbon atoms, medium-chain fatty acids are made up of just 6 to 12 carbon atoms. 

Remember, the length of the carbon chain impacts how it’s used in the body. The shorter length gives MCFAs the unique ability to quickly cross from the digestive system into blood circulation and right to the liver. Once in the liver, they can be quickly converted into energy.

MCTs have been shown to increase dietary induced thermogenesis (DIT), which is the heat produced by burning calories.[*] Higher DIT means more calories burned and fewer calories left over for storage. This is good news for our Keto Dieters who are trying to lose fat mass![*]

Long-chain fatty acids, typically found in animal-based fats, have a far more roundabout path to take before being used as energy. LCTs are not as thermogenic as MCTs, and they are more likely to be stored as fat.[*]

What are the Benefits of MCT Oil?

From increased energy to improved weight loss, there are plenty of ways MCT Oil can supercharge your health. Research has shown that supplementing your diet with MCT Oil can lead to the following health benefits:

Enhances Brain Function

Studies suggest that ketones are a more efficient source of energy for the brain than glucose. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that mental clarity and focus improve with a Ketogenic meal. These results have been found in cognitively healthy people, and may even improve in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s![*,*,*]

Improves Weight Loss

MCT Oil can provides multiple benefits that all, ultimately, contribute to weight loss.

Store Less Fat

If you’re starting out on your weight loss journey, MCT Oil may be an extremely valuable supplement for you. Your body will use MCT Oil as an instant source of energy so the calories from it are quickly used instead of stored as fat. Additionally, it increases the thermic effect of food, which helps put you in a caloric deficit. This means that you burn more calories from your meal, and store less![*]

Additionally, research has shown that MCT Oil can accelerate weight loss and decrease waist circumference when consumed with a healthy diet.[*] The Ketogenic diet has been shown to help shed that hard-to-lose belly fat! [*]

Decrease Hunger

It also reduces hunger levels! People using MCT oil have been shown to naturally consume fewer calories.[*]

Furthermore, the increase in ketone production that comes from consuming MCT Oil has been shown to suppress the hormone ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes you feel hungry.[*]

Gut Health

There are more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your body! Scientists are discovering more and more that these bacteria play an important role in how our bodies function. If the wrong bacteria are growing, it could mean some seriously negative health consequences! 

One of these consequences appears to be weight gain and obesity![*,*,*] Altering the composition of gut microbiota may give you the edge you need to shed that excess fat. 

Luckily, MCT Oil has also been found to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.[*] Which may be yet another way it can help you reverse that unwanted weight gain.  

Studies have shown that MCT Oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It has been shown to suppress the growth of some serious infectious agents, such as C. diff.,[*] a fungus that causes sepsis,[*] and Candida.[*]

MCT Oil has captured the attention of athletes worldwide for its ability to reduce lactate build up when consumed before intense exercise,[*] which results in greater exercise endurance. It is important to note that the subjects in the cited research were not Keto Dieters, and those looking to improve athletic performance while on the Keto Diet may benefit from checking out our blog on the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.

Helps Control Blood Sugar

Research has shown that MCT oil may improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes, which helps them control their blood sugar levels.[*]

Effective Energy Source

MCT Oil is one of the most effective supplements Keto-dieters can use to start converting fat into energy. Not only does it improve brain function, but the higher thermogenic effect of MCT Oil has been shown to boost metabolism as well. And unlike most other fat sources, MCT Oil is absorbed and metabolized immediately after consumption. It helps ensure that ketones are readily available, making the transition into ketosis significantly easier.

How Can I Incorporate MCT Oil into My Diet?

MCT Oils stay liquid at room temperature, which makes them easy to blend with the beverage of your choice. Since they have no taste or smell, the possibilities are endless! Here are just a few ways you can get your daily dose of this highly-beneficial supplement:

  • Mix it into your morning coffee
  • Blend it into an afternoon smoothie
  • Whip it up with your favorite condiments
  • Stir it up with your pre-workout beverage

What Are the Different Types of MCT Oil?

Although there are many different MCT Oil supplements on the market for you to choose from, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed! Once you understand the four main types of MCT Oil, you’ll have a much easier time choosing the right supplement for your needs.

The four medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) in MCT oils are: 

  • Caproic Acid (C6): Anecdotally, it is thought that C6 converts into ketones at a highly efficient rate. Unfortunately, these benefits often go hand-in-hand with stomach issues, so most people wouldn’t recommend consuming C6 alone. Also, many people warn of a bad aftertaste.
  • Caprylic Acid (C8): In research conducted with the individual MCFAs C8-C12, C8 (caprylic acid) was shown to provide the quickest and longest-lasting ketone generation of the fatty acids tested.[*] Additionally, C8 produces higher concentrations of acetoacetate (one of 3 ketone bodies produced in ketosis) than whole coconut oil, which generated more beta-hydroxybutyrate. This may prove to be beneficial in the early days of Keto-adaptation because until your body fully adapts to using ketones as energy, acetoacetate is more readily absorbed into the brain![*] Additionally, C8 itself can cross the blood-brain barrier and is directly converted to ketones by brain cells![*]
  • Capric Acid (C10): C8 and C10 are the most common fatty acids found in MCT oil formulas because they are thought to metabolize faster than C12 and do not have the baggage of a bad aftertaste, like C6. C10 may provide the added benefit of killing candida faster and more effectively than the other MCFAs [18]. Candida is a yeast that can grow in the small intestine, where it isn’t supposed to be and may cause GI disturbances, such as belching, diarrhea, and nausea.[*] C10 consumption may improve gut health and digestion by keeping candida growth in check!
  • Lauric Acid (C12): C12 is the most abundant MCFA found in coconut oil. It may absorb slower than the other MCFAs, which might be a nice complement in an MCT oil mix that includes the faster absorbed C8 and C10.[*] It also has a strong antimicrobial effect. It inhibits the growth of c. diff,[*] which is a bacteria that can cause serious illness, and paradoxically can be caused by taking antibiotics![*] It’s the most common hospital-acquired infection and leading GI-related cause of death in the United States. C8 and C10 help fight these bacteria too, but C12 was found to be the strongest.[*]

When shopping for the right supplement for your diet, keep in mind that some MCT Oil brands have a higher concentration of a specific MCT strain. For example, Dave Asprey's company Bulletproof Digital has a product called BULLETPROOF® XCT Oil, which only contains two strains of MCT, while many other companies mix all four. By selecting the right blend of MCT strains for your unique needs, you’ll unlock the full potential of the Keto diet—and you may even find yourself burning fat at a much higher rate!

MCT Oil: A True Keto Staple

Whether you’re trying the Keto diet for the first time or you’ve been on it for years, MCT Oil possesses research-backed benefits that can improve your quality of life. We hope you enjoyed learning about all of MCT Oil’s exciting features—when you get a taste of what this wonder-oil can do, you’ll want it to be a staple in your low-carb, high-fat diet forever!

Note: The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.

BULLETPROOF is a registered trademark owned by Bulletproof Digital, Inc.

Comments 21

  • KeepKetoInTupperware

    KeepKetoInTupperware 18 days ago

    I know Slimfast sells an mct oil. I see it all the time at my local discount grocery store. (They stock it in the baking aisle lol). Has anyone tried it and how do you like it?

    • Betsy A.

      Betsy A. 3 months ago

      Can I just take a tablespoon of coconut oil

      • looz weight

        looz weight 4 months ago

        been using it really cool especially for my work out performance , thanks for the article:)

        • MsMarvellousMacadamia

          MsMarvellousMacadamia 4 months ago

          Anyone can help guide on how to choose the correct MCT strain for weight loss? There are so many brands and kinds out there and I am lost. Thank you

          • Wendy_63

            Wendy_63 6 months ago

            is it ok to take in gel cap form? Mine are the medium chain triglycerides.

            • SpectacularArugula315768

              SpectacularArugula315768 8 months ago

              I have been adding to my coffee for the fat and other benefits. I now fear the risks of high cholesterol from this. Is there an alternative, should I avoid this altogether or am I overthinking?

              • Rene

                Rene 5 months ago

                I have the same risk ? Any answer ?

            • RousingKetone287978

              RousingKetone287978 8 months ago

              I put one scoop of Perfect Keto MCT oil in my coffee with a tbsp of whipping cream. Every morning!

              • RemarkableRadish330653

                RemarkableRadish330653 8 months ago

                Does anyone recommend a good brand of MCT?

                • StupendousCauliflower493293

                  StupendousCauliflower493293 6 months ago


              • JC

                JC 8 months ago

                How often should this be used? Once daily, every other day, once a week?

                • LaneWalton

                  LaneWalton 8 months ago

                  Daily - at least 1 tsp

              • Christine

                Christine 8 months ago

                I use MCT Oil powder with Collagen peptides in my coffee every morning. I love it.

                • MelissaShelton31619

                  MelissaShelton31619 7 months ago

                  I do the same!

              • Runleeny

                Runleeny 8 months ago

                I am going to add it to my olive oil and vinegar salad dressing

                • Jeannie

                  Jeannie 8 months ago

                  This article is too scientific for me. I still don't understand how to ascertain the correct ratio of MCTs for my body.

                  • LaneWalton

                    LaneWalton 8 months ago

                    1 tsp per day should be fine for any body size

                • Dora

                  Dora 8 months ago

                  I used to put MCT oil in my black coffee but even though you couldn’t taste or smell it, the appearance was off-putting. I’ve since switched to MCT capsules but they don’t seem to work the same.

                  • Jenny

                    Jenny 8 months ago

                    This was so helpful. I use MCT powder in my coffee and it is delicious! It is a C8 one.

                    • Tina

                      Tina 8 months ago

                      I find taking MCT oil ingresses my anxiety levels too much. I have it in a natures way Keto protein drink for breakfast but anymore and I feel terrible.

                      • Reeniebh

                        Reeniebh 8 months ago

                        Thank u. I will re read this many times!