What is MCT oil?
MCT oil is perfect for the times in your day when you could do with a little more fuel in the tank. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are a group of saturated fats which rather than being stored as fat, tend to be quickly absorbed and efficiently converted into a source of fuel that’s readily available for cells to convert into energy.
PLANT SOURCES OF MCT OIL
Plant sources of medium chain triglycerides include coconut and palm kernel oils, but because of the environmental and sustainability issues associated with palm oil, you’ll only find pure 100% coconut derived medium chain triglycerides in our True MCT oil.
MCT COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil contains the fat extracted from the kernel or flesh of a coconut. This plant oil contains a unique mix of 90% saturated fats, 5-8% mono-unsaturated oleic acid (omega 9) and about 1% polyunsaturated linoleic acid (omega 6). The real buzz about coconut oil is attributed to the type of saturated fats that this plant oil contains. These saturated fats, also known as triglycerides, are categorised into groups according to the length of the carbon chains they contain.
Tucked away in the 90% portion of saturated fat are eight different types of triglycerides which either fall into the long chain or medium chain category:
- Long chain triglycerides: Arachidic acid (C20), Stearic acid (C18), Palmitic acid (C16), Myristic acid C14)
- Medium chain triglycerides: Lauric acid (C12), Capric acid (C10), Caprylic acid (C8), Caproic acid (C6)
So how do long chain triglycerides and medium chain triglycerides differ in terms of metabolism and health? There’s now a large amount of credible research indicating that these two groups of triglycerides behave quite differently within the body. In fact, it’s the long chain triglycerides which are now considered more problematic for our health. Rather than getting burned for energy, long chain triglycerides tend to get stored as fat, contributing to weight gain and increasing some of the risk factors associated with obesity and heart disease.
MCT OIL VS COCONUT OIL
Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) however have a completely different fate to the long chain triglycerides found in coconut oil. MCT tend to bypass digestion, are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and get quickly escorted to the liver where they are readily metabolised into ketones. Body cells usually burn glucose (sugar) as a source of fuel to generate energy. However, when glucose levels fall short, ketones are utilised as an instant alternative fuel source for cellular energy. This is why coconut oil became popular amongst athletes, body builders and those following an active lifestyle. As the world of science deepened our understanding of medium chain triglycerides, the trend in coconut oil was quickly superseded by a much greater demand for MCT oil which has a better reputation for supporting weight management, energy and ketosis.
FOUR MEDIUM CHAIN TRYGLYCERIDES
Coconut oil is simply the cold pressed oil from the coconut kernel, and it contains long chain triglycerides, medium chain triglycerides, omega 9 and omega 6, all present in the proportions naturally found in coconut. The natural proportions of medium triglycerides in coconut oil are approximately:
- 42% lauric acid C12
- 7% caprylic acid C10
- 5% capric acid C8
- 1% caproic acid C6
However, not all four of these MCT are found in our True MCT oil and here’s why…
WHAT DOES MCT OIL DO?
MCT oil is simply a highly concentrated source of medium chain triglycerides with a better profile than coconut oil in terms of flavour and fuel credentials. Whereas coconut oil contains four types of medium chain triglycerides, True MCT oil contains just C8 and C10, which are the two medium chain triglycerides most readily utilised for fuel and ketone production. True MCT oil provides a beautifully balanced blend of 60% caprylic acid (C8) and 40% capric acid (C10) which is clean, light and flavourless. It is extracted from coconut oil using pure steamed distillation and gentle hydrolysis without the use of solvents or chemicals.
BEST TO AVOID MCT OILS CONTAINING C6 AND C12
You may think that because lauric acid makes up about 45% of coconut oil that you’d find it in our True MCT. Although classed as a medium chain triglyceride, lauric acid behaves more like a long chain triglyceride meaning it’s more likely to get stored as fat rather than burned as fuel. This is why the better quality MCT oils, such as True MCT oil, don’t contain C12.
Caproic acid (C6) only makes up about 1% of coconut oil so it’s not a major contributor to the energy and ketone story, but that’s not why we’ve excluded it from our True MCT oil. Caproic acid has a very unpleasant smell and an undesirable taste which is why all good quality MCT oils don’t contain C6.
IS MCT OIL OR COCONUT OIL BETTER?
MCT oil is vastly superior as it comprises only the key medium chain fats that are readily converted into energy and ketones which help facilitate a state of ketosis. As a general guide you would need to take six tablespoons of coconut oil to gain the same amount of those helpful medium chain triglycerides found in just one tablespoon of True MCT oil.
KETO AND INTERMITTENT FASTING
There are lots of different fasting strategies including time restricted eating, intermittent fasting, keto fasting and clean fasting which differ in their nutrition guidelines but share common challenges in times when tiredness, fatigue, hunger and energy dips may test your staying power. The most challenging time is typically the last few hours of your fast which is likely to be the first few hours of your day.
Some fasting strategies and particularly ketogenic diets encourage the use of MCT oil as a way to help fast-track the body into a state of ketosis, the tell-tale sign that the body has switched from burning carbs to burning fats for fuel. The other benefit of MCT oil is that being a fat it helps support a feeling of satiety, contributes to making you ‘feel fuller for longer’ which is helpful for side-stepping in-between meal hunger pangs and supporting healthy eating habits.
MCT OIL, KETONES AND NOOTROPICS
When glucose and glycogen stores are depleted, which is typically during or after exercise or after several hours of fasting, body cells switch to using fats and ketones as a source of energy. The exciting discovery is that like glucose, ketones also have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and be utilised by brain cells as a source of fuel.
DOES MCT OIL HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
Fat fasting is a technique that many ketogenic dieters use to facilitate transitioning into ketosis and to help support weight management. One of the benefits of MCT oil is that because it’s a fat it helps improve satiety, curbing hunger pangs and keeping you feeling fuller for longer which is ideal if you are following a weight loss, ketogenic or intermittent fasting strategy. Simply add our True MCT oil to your morning coffee for a boost of keto fuel. Or for a brew with wellness benefits you could add our True MCT to a freshly brewed Coffee + Collagen or Cacao + Collagen to power up your day or workout.
MCT OIL SIDE EFFECTS
It’s always best to start with just one teaspoon of True MCT oil and slowly increase over a few weeks or months to your desired level. Most people increase their level of MCT oil quite comfortably, but some individuals with sensitive digestion may experience a few signs of digestive discomfort if your initial dose is too high or if you increase your dose size too quickly.
If you experience digestive discomfort, the sensible advice here is to take a short break from MCT oil and let your digestion settle down. Then reintroduce at a lower, better tolerated daily dose. Taking MCT with food such as drizzling over salad or adding to soup helps stimulate fat digesting enzymes to be released, which could help offset any digestive discomfort.
CAN YOU COOK WITH MCT OIL?
Yes you can, but there are a few culinary guidelines that you need to follow. Most fats become damaged or oxidised during cooking, making them more harmful to the body. MCT oil however is stable up to temperatures of 160C or 320F so MCT oil is suitable for use with any baking recipes that are cooked below 160C or 320F. However, it's best to avoid frying with MCT oil as this method of cooking is too hot and is likely to denature the medium chain triglycerides. There are no restrictions for adding MCT oil to raw food recipes or room temperature recipes such as smoothies, salad dressings, overnight oats and energy balls. Have fun getting creative with this amazing healthy fat.