I admit I was skeptical…
I didn’t always believe in the positive health benefits of MCT oil. Yet when I unintentionally consumed it, I felt great!
Have you been skeptical too? Let's explore the benefits of MCT oil, what it is, and how to use it.
What Are MCTs?
MCTs are medium-chain triglycerides — a unique kind of saturated fat often missing from our diets.
To quickly brush up on our chemistry, triglycerides are fat molecules comprised of a glycerol “backbone” and 3 fatty acid “chains” coming off the backbone. At least 2 of the fatty acids in MCTs are of medium length (6 to 12 carbon atoms, although sources differ).
Because the fatty acids in MCTs are relatively short, MCTs are easier to digest than their more common counterpart, LCTs (or long-chain triglycerides).
After consumption, the body breaks down MCTs into their component fatty acids, then sends these fatty acids directly to the liver. There, they are burned as fuel immediately instead of getting stored as fat. This means an increase in metabolism, potential weight loss, and an increase in both brain and body energy (source and source).
Although I've known about MCTs for years, I figured we were getting enough of them through coconut oil. According to some, coconut oil is 62% MCTs.
While coconut oil is excellently healthy in its own right, however, most of its MCTs are on the longer side. They're still considered medium-chain triglycerides, but they stay in the liver longer than their shorter medium-chain triglyceride counterparts. Does that make sense?
For example, over 50% of the MCTs in coconut oil contain a fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid, with 12 carbon atoms, is arguably short enough to be called “medium-chain”. And yet, it isn't converted into fuel as quickly as caprylic acid and capric acid, which have 8 and 10 carbon atoms, respectively. (Source and source.)
So if coconut oil doesn't really yield the best MCTs for energy and fat burning, where can you get them? Well, the shortest ones can be extracted from coconut oil and sold as MCT oil.
How I Started Using MCT Oil
Many advocates use specially formulated MCT oil in their morning coffee — skipping breakfast and fueling up simply through MCTs, which make the belly feel full.
This is called intermittent fasting. It's gaining traction even among traditional food advocates for longer life span (source), improved brain function (source), increased transit time, recovery from cancer (source and source), and fat loss (source and source).
I've always advocated for whole foods, and never been one to skip meals. However, I started consuming MCTs myself accidentally…
I purchased a protein powder for my son made almost entirely of grass-fed beef. I blended it up for him with warm raw milk at breakfast time, and we both started drinking it.
Immediately, I noticed a boost of energy. And over the course of 2 months, I noticed decreased belly fat! When I looked at the label of the protein powder again, I was surprised to see medium-chain triglycerides as the fourth ingredient.
Light bulb! That's why it made me feel so good! Although I eat protein and raw milk in other ways, this was my best source of MCTs.
For those of us with Hashimoto's or other thyroid disorders, energy is so important! When the thyroid is compromised, the body tries to protect itself, often by triggering a sort of hibernation instinct: eat more, gain weight, sleep more, exercise less (source).
MCT oil causes the opposite effect — less belly fat and more energy! And while it alone can't treat Hashimoto's, it does boost thyroid function, providing increased energy and metabolic function.
Here's my favorite “bulletproof” recipe using MCT oil: Thyroid Anti-Inflammatory Energy Tea!
Other Benefits Of MCTs
According to this study, MCTs may help preserve insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes.
And for those with gall bladder issues, MCTs are a great fat source because they don't require bile for digestion — their fatty acids go straight to the liver, instead.
Studies also attribute an increase in immune function, relief from epileptic seizures, better exercise recovery, and a decreased risk of heart disease to MCTs.
Finally, MCTs can be used to enhance endurance exercise, since the body is more apt to use free fatty acids than to pull on glycogen stores (source).
Choosing The Best MCT Product
This protein powder is delicious! I use it in ice cream, hot chocolate, and bulletproof coffee. I personally vouch for it, and functional medical practitioner Chris Kresser also recommends it for increased athletic performance or recovery.
Regarding MCT oil, different companies offer different formulations.
Bulletproof, for instance, emphasizes the 2 shortest-chained MCT fatty acids (caprylic acid and capric acid) in their products. These fatty acids are more expensive since they aren't as abundant in coconut oil, from which most MCT oil is derived. And yet, they arguably yield the most benefit.
I prefer to source my MCT oil from Bulletproof. They also offer a range of products to fit different budgets and needs.
I also like the MCT oil from Wild MCT for the quality, effectiveness, and integrity of their product.
Update: since writing this post, Perfect Supplements came out with another great MCT oil. It isn't pure caprylic acid (C8) as Bulletproof is but it is certainly a great combo of caprylic acid and capric acid and is more affordable. Here's more info. Although the list price is $31.95 per 30-ounce bottle, you can get your price down to $20.12 per bottle by purchasing at least 6 bottles (automatic bulk discount of 30% OFF) —and— applying coupon code TCS10 at checkout to get another 10% OFF!
How To Use MCTs
Most products containing MCTs come in the form of a virtually flavorless oil.
Bulletproof coffee refers to the recent trend of blending MCT oil into one's morning coffee or tea. I highly recommend this, as it fully homogenizes the oil into one's beverage. It makes coffee or tea oh-so-creamy!
Typically you combine 1 tablespoon MCT oil with 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter and blend it into coffee (see this recipe). You can also add sweetener, although not if you're intermittently fasting. I like to add gelatin as well, which creates a fine foam and also promotes gut health!
If adding MCT oil to your smoothie, it actually won't congeal or solidify with frozen fruit because it's a liquid fat. Bonus! 🙂
Try blending a tablespoon of MCT oil into any of these hot drinks:
- Bread and Chocolate Breakfast Drink
- Lavender-White Chocolate Steamer
- Black and White Maca Mocha
- Nourishing White Hot Chocolate
- Vanilla Ginger Chai Tea
- Frothy Nutrient-Dense Peppermint Mocha
Have you experienced the benefits of MCT oil? Do you have a favorite brand? Have you noticed an energy boost or decreased body fat?
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