What are MCT Oils?
MCT Oils have gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to their effect on metabolism and other health benefits. More and more people including athletes are making MCT oils a part of their diet. Benefits range from aiding in weight loss, fat loss, mental sharpness, promoting ketosis to increasing physical performance. MCTs are available in natural oils like coconut oil and also come as a supplement. Let us understand what does MCT mean, what are MCT oils, their health benefits and their dosage.
What is MCT?
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. As technically defined on Wikipedia Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are triglycerides with two or three fatty acids having an aliphatic tail of 6–12 carbon atoms, i.e., medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). In simple terms, MCTs contain medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides. Due to their shorter length, they are easier to be absorbed and digested by the body as compared to LCT or Long Chain Triglycerides. The length of MCTs is what makes them less likely to be stored as fat and an instant energy source.
What are MCT Oils?
Oils that contain high amounts of MCTs or Medium Chain Triglycerides are called MCT Oils. One of the richest and natural sources of MCT oils is Coconut oil. Coconut oil contains as much as 50% fat in the form of MCTs. This is the reason most MCT oil supplements are prepared using coconut oil as the base. Coconut oil is commonly used as an MCT oil. However, a more concentrated form of MCTs can be found in MCT oil supplements. Coconut oil works fine as an MCT oil source for most people but, MCT oil being a more concentrated form works best for athletes.
What are the Health Benefits of MCT Oils?
The following are the health benefits of MCT Oils:
#1 Weight Loss:
Consumption of MCT Oil is linked to a feeling of fullness. MCT oils also help in putting the body into a fat-burning state called Ketosis. In ketosis, the body produces ketones and burns body fat for fuel. Thus, consuming MCT oils will help in weight loss and fat loss.
#2 Fight Bad Bacteria:
Research suggests that MCT oils promote good bacteria growth in our guts. Additionally, research has proved that MCT oils have antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects. Read the research papers here: research paper 1, research paper 2.
#3 Manage Blood Sugar:
Research suggests that MCT oils have a positive effect on managing blood sugar levels especially in people suffering from type 2 Diabetes. With MCT oils promoting weight loss due to fat loss, it only becomes more beneficial for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
#4 Reduce the probability of Heart Disease:
Recent research suggests having MCT oils greatly reduces the probability of getting heart diseases in the following ways:
Reduce weight by reducing fat
Reduce inflammation - research paper
Increase HDL production - research paper
Reduce LDL - research paper
#5 Lactic Acid Buffering:
Physical activity like exercising leads to lactic acid buildup which gives us a burning sensation in the muscle that is being worked out. If lactic acid builds up we are unable to continue exercising without taking a pause. Although more research is required, there is some evidence that MCT oils help buffer lactic acid buildup. It means, using MCT oils, we will be able to exercise a little more and break down the muscles further.
#6 Increased Endurance:
There is some conclusive evidence which suggests that consuming MCT oils as compared to LCT oils can help increase endurance. However, more research is required to instil trust in the scientific community in regards to the increased endurance claim as shown in the research.
#7 Improve Neurological Functions:
Research indicates that good fats like MCT oils can help with brain function by improving memory, cognition and judgment. This especially helps with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's.
#8 Supports Intermittent Fasting:
Intermittent fasting is the practice of deliberately keeping long gaps between meals to induce fat burn. MCT oils make us feel fuller longer. This helps with avoiding binge eating episodes and increasing the gap between two meals. The longer the fasting period the better will be the fat burn.
What is the dosage of MCT Oils?
MCT oil supplement dosage for healthy individuals should be between 1 to 5 tablespoons i.e. 15 ml to 75 ml per day. Do not exceed 100 ml per day. Start with doses as small as 1 teaspoon i.e. 5 ml per day and gradually increase the dosage as tolerance levels build up.
MCT oils are tasteless and can be consumed directly or added to food. Since MCT oils have a low smoke point, do not use them for shallow fry/ deep fry food. Instead of MCT oil, coconut oil can be used for cooking (including shallow/ deep fry).
Hope this article helps understanding MCT oils.