The Beginner's Guide to MCT Oil

MCT Oil, Coconuts

If you’re relatively new to the world of keto and low carb dieting, then you may not have heard of MCT oil before. MCT oil is famed in the low carb world, and it’s well worth finding out more about the potential benefits of this promising substance.

For the full facts about MCT oil, read on.

What are MCTs?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, and to the uninitiated, they’re about as tough to understand as they are to spell. However, MCTs are definitely worth learning about if you’re a fan of low-carb eating.

MCTs are a saturated fatty acid. If you’re so new to the low-carb world that the word “fatty” is concerning you, then don’t worry: fats are not the enemy. In fact, fats are essential for a variety of functions in the human body. For example, we all know omegas 3 and 6 are good for us, and they’re fats too.

MCTs have been popular with keto and low-carb dieters for years. The benefits are myriad, and include improved cognitive function, simpler weight management, and heart health. You have likely been aware of the sudden popularity of coconut oil; up to 60% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs.

MCTs are found in a variety of natural substances, including breast milk, goat’s milk, butter, palm oil, and — of course — coconut oil.


What is MCT oil?

MCT oil is predominantly extracted from the sources above, producing an oil that is just medium-chain triglycerides. This ensures an oil that is rich in these beneficial saturated fatty acids.

bottle of oil, mct oil

Isn’t saturated fat bad for you?

For decades now, saturated fat has been demonized, and much of this demonization has, sadly, come from the top-down: governments have been one of the foremost sources for the “saturated fats are bad” school of thinking.

The problem is, the evidence for the claims that saturated fat is bad for health is… not particularly substantial, and much of it is based on flawed science. The simple truth of this can be seen in the general population. When the myths regarding saturated fats became popular, the answer from food manufacturers was to produce a huge range of “low fat” options— yet obesity rates and heart disease rates have continued to climb. If saturated fats were truly the problem, then surely eliminating these from the standard diet would have fixed the issue?

The truth is, more and more research is concluding that saturated fats are not the problem, and actually offer a raft of health benefits. As a group of saturated fatty acids, MCTs are now believed to be beneficial to health, rather than causing harm.

Why are MCTs better for you than other forms of saturated fats?

The key to answering this question is in the “MC”: medium-chain. Fats are broken into classifications, depending on the number of carbon atoms they have:

  • Short-chain fats have fewer than six carbon atoms
  • Medium-chain fats have between 6 and 12 carbon atoms
  • Long-chain fats have between 31 and 21 carbon atoms

  • Medium-chain triglycerides are the star player in the fats family due to how they are digested. Rather than being solely through the digestive system, MCTs are digested easily and then used by the liver. This means that the fats are metabolized for energy use, rather than being stored as fat cells.

    Why is MCT oil good for you?

    There are numerous benefits to be derived from MCT oil.

    Improved mental clarity

    As the energy provided by MCTs are quickly metabolized by the liver, your mental performance, clarity, and cognition should improve.

    Help to maintain a healthy weight

    One of the things that people struggle with when attempting a low carb diet is that they don’t feel “full”; without carbs bulking out your meal, it can feel like you haven’t eaten much. MCT oil can help promote a feeling of satiety.

    Improved energy

    Due to the fast metabolization and quick digestive process, MCT oil is able to allow you to feel more energetic, and often for longer periods of time. Unlike the vast majority of other foods, MCTs do not require energy to be digested and metabolized, so they’re always going to give more to your energy reserves than they take away.

    Improved gut health

    Over recent years, gut health has become an important talking point, which poor gut health linked to weak immunity and even allergies. MCT oil is hugely beneficial in promoting healthy gut health by balancing the various forms of “healthy” gut bacteria. MCT oil is also a break of sorts for the digestive system, as it’s so easy to process and is instead metabolized by the liver.

    Improved immunity

    MCT oil is antiviral and antibacterial in nature, helping to give your immune system a boost.

    Balanced hormones

    One of the major downsides of the “low fat” trend of recent years is that fats are essential to hormonal health. If you are not consuming enough fat, your hormones will become unbalanced, which can cause a variety of different health concerns. MCT oil offers a way of ingesting beneficial, healthy fats, which should improve hormone health.

    Better absorption of fat-soluble nutrients

    With a higher level of fat intake from MCT oil, your body is better able to make use of fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins D and E.

    Is MCT oil suitable for low carb/keto dieters?

    Yes! There are no carbohydrates in pure MCT oil, so it’s an excellent choice for those following a low carb regimen.

    Is there anything else I need to know before trying MCT oil?

    Be cautious when first using MCT oil. Due to the fast digestive process, MCT oil can cause digestive issues if you take too much, too soon. Start gently, slowly increasing your daily intake, and giving your body time to adjust.

     drinking coffee with MCT oil

    Final thoughts

    Hopefully, the above has helped bust a few dieting myths, and introduced you to the huge number of benefits you could experience when consuming MCT oil. If you’re following a low carb diet, or just want to boost your overall health, then MCT oil is a great option to consider.

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