The ABC of MCT

The ABC of MCT

Bev Dunne

We’re all aware Coconut Oil has become popular over the past few years for its many health benefits.  Most of these health benefits are as a result of the MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) contained in coconut oil.

For some time now, another product known as MCT oil has grown in popularity, as an alternative to coconut oil. The key difference between these two oils is their MCT content. Whilst coconut oil contains approximately 65% MCTs, MCT oil comprises of 100% MCTs.

So, why are MCTs so important?  MCTs may contain many health benefits including:

  • enhanced cognitive and neurological function
  • appetite suppression and weight loss
  • increased energy levels
  • improved physical performance
  • improved heart health
  • healthy gut support

When it comes to MCTs helping weight loss, it has been found MCTs may not only help increase metabolism, they may also encourage thermogenesis, thereby suppressing the increase in body fat. Thermogenesis means there is a heating effect, enabling our body to more easily use ketones as fuel for energy instead of carbs. You may have heard of the Ketogenic Diet, MCTs fortuitously provide us with similar results to a ketogenic diet without the need to drastically reduce carbs. MCTs may also reduce food cravings. (1)(2) Try the Keto Coffee at Nourish, it's organic espresso blended with MCT and cacao butter to make a vegan Bulletproof coffee. The ultimate energy boost.

Supplementing with MCTs is considered to also increase fat oxidation which means by helping our body to use some of its fat stores as a source of energy, it could help with weight loss. This seems to be particularly more relevant to women. (3) MCTs appear to be particularly beneficial in losing fat around the midsection internal and external belly fat which we know to be the more concerning areas of fat retention. These areas we know create a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.

It is also believed MCTs may help control weight by reducing our appetite. Some researchers consider MCTs may act on a range of hormones which help promote a feeling of fullness. Supplementing with MCTs may also decrease appetite by improving energy expenditure. (4)

Of course, weight loss isn’t just about taking MCT oil.  Following a sensible eating plan and exercising is also integral to losing weight. The bonus is MCTs appear to assist in more easily adhering to a healthy diet. Because MCTs make us feel more satiated there is less likelihood of snacking between meals and helps overcome the desire for larger meals.

MCT oils are a great pre-workout supplement as they convert to ketones quickly which means they can be used for fuel when exercising. It is suggested MCTs should be taken 30 mins before our workout.  There’s also indications increased ketones after training might help to stimulate muscle growth so including MCTs in a post workout protein drink sounds like a great option. MCTs can also be beneficial in reducing muscle and other tissue breakdown following an injury.

Medium chain triglycerides are important fatty acids, being 6-12 carbon chains in length and are less likely to be found in our diet than other fats. They are believed to be a great source of energy because they can be more effectively metabolised by our body. They aren’t digested in the same manner as other dietary fats. In fact, they are processed and digested in the liver which means they provide instant fuel instead of being stored as fat in our body. They are absorbed into our bloodstream and instantly converted by the liver.  MCT is great for those suffering from digestive problems as they are more readily digested, with bile salts not being required to break the oils down.

MCT oil does not have a strong taste and can be added to smoothies, food or even you morning coffee.  It is suggested to avoid stomach upset,  begin with 1 teaspoon per day, gradually increasing to 1-3 tablespoons per day.