Why an MCT Oil Supplement Should be a Regular Part of Your Diet
I start my day every day with MCT Oil.
What is MCT exactly?
MCT—or medium chain triglycerides—are most commonly extracted from coconut oil, which in recent years has been shown to have various health benefits; from its antibacterial properties to its resistance to high heat cooking.
Triglycerides is another word for fat. Not all fats are created equal. I avoid PUFA's (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) such as sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. Always read the label!
Tryglycerides are made up of a number of carbon atoms in the fatty acid structure. MCT is typically 6-12 (C6-C12) atoms in length while PUFA's can be as much as 40-48 (C40- C48). The longer the chain, the harder it is for the body to absorb it and change it into ketones to fuel the body. I've learned about this from the author of Deep Nutrition (link to Dr. Cate Schanahan).
MCT oil is a supplement that has become popular among Biohackers, bodybuilders and those opting for a higher-fat, lower-carb diet for weight loss, better energy and even those who are interested in its neuro-protective qualities.
What’s so great about MCTs is that when ingested, your body converts them into ketones—a more clean and sustainable form of energy. Since MCTs easily enter your cells without being broken down, they can be used as an immediate source of energy. These ketones help you burn fat for energy rather than glucose (derived from carbs) which in turn can aid in weight loss, boosts energy and even enhances cognitive function (when carbohydrate intake is low). I personally find it helps me reduce my cravings for cereal and toast in the morning if I add it to my tea or coffee.
There are four types of MCTs, and they all play different roles in the body. Let’s take a deeper look into what each type of MCT does and how they benefit the body. The numbers beside the names indicate the length of the carbon chains.
- Caproic Acid (C6): This is the shortest form of MCTs, and is converted to ketones the fastest. However, they are not the best quality MCT out there. They are also known to cause disruptions in your digestion, and may cause you to make a few too many trips to the bathroom.
- Caprylic Acid (C8): This is of superior quality. It converts to ketones within a matter of minutes, making it very powerful for suppressing hunger and fuelling your brain in a way that other MCTs do not.
- Capric Acid (C10): This form takes a little longer to get converted into ketones, and doesn’t give you as high of a ketone spike, but it still does the trick.
- Lauric Acid (C12): This form is more of a long chain fatty acid and is widely found in generic coconut oil. It won’t help produce ketones to curb your hunger or sharpen your cognition as much as the other three described. However, it is the strongest MCT when it comes to fighting off viruses, fungi, and bacteria, including Staph and Candida. Coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid, giving it its antibacterial properties.
I've decided to go for a pure C8 oil to kick off our range, as personally I find I get more of the brain benefits because of the shorter chain, but it has a milder taste then the C6 which I find horrific! Note to self: Don't do what I did and double the recommended dose - as this can lead to disaster pants! However, you will adapt as your body becomes used to the new fuel source.
How Can MCTs Benefit Me?
The consumption of MCTs has a multitude of benefits for our bodies and minds. Here are the top three reasons why an MCT supplement should be a regular part of your diet.
Does it help with cravings?
When our stomachs are empty, we start feeling the slump. This is when we release ghrelin (our hunger hormone) to let the brain know it’s time to eat. Once you eat, the body releases cholecystokinin (CCK)—which is the major hormone responsible for gallbladder contraction as well as the secretion of pancreatic enzyme, which lets the brain know it is now satisfied. With the consumption of MCTs, ketone bodies have been shown to actually suppress ghrelin and enhance CCK, meaning you feel less hungry and more satisfied. This can not only lead to healthy weight loss, but the ketones also increase metabolism, can reduce fat storage and burn fat you already have as energy. Talk about a triple bonus!
In addition, one study has found that people taking 2 tablespoons of MCT oil as part of their breakfast ended up eating less food for lunch compared to those taking coconut oil. Furthermore, another study found that taking the MCT oil before exercise may help you use more fat instead of carbs for energy. Moreover, MCT oil could help increase the production of heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol. This may, in turn, help reduce your risk for heart disease and obesity.
Will it help my brain fog?
The ketones produced by MCTs are thought to provide immediate energy to neurons, without the inflammation and crash that comes along with sugar spikes. Being a cleaner, more sustainable form of energy, burning ketones may do away with the brain fog, the tip-of-the-tongue moments, and give you clearer mind. This will also help enhance mood and memory. In fact, one of the first symptoms of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia is impaired glucose metabolism in the brain—when the sugar can’t get where it needs to go, and without energy from it, brain cells start to die. Ketones work on a separate system from glucose, and that system often stays intact in people with dementia. That means MCTs can provide energy to dying brain cells, keeping neurons alive in the face of degeneration. In some cases, ketones have been shown to even reverse symptoms. With the rising number of cases of these illnesses starting in younger people, I truly believe preventative measures need to be taken.
Will it help my workout?
Who wouldn’t want more energy? MCTs make excellent fuel for your workouts or even daily running around. Sugars and simple carbs sap not only your energy but also reduce your amount of testosterone, which decreases endurance and even muscle building during workouts. MCTs also help you build up less lactic acid as you exercise, so you can go on longer and stronger! And as mentioned, when you’re burning your own body fat as energy, you won’t need to refuel as often.
Personally I prefer to fuel with the powder rather than the oil as a pre workout, but I'm sure you'll find out what suits your own biohacking protocol. We are all slightly different. Let us know how it's working for you. You can use MCT oil in your coffee, shakes, or even in your cooking! Now that you understand the different types of MCTs and their respective benefits, try to incorporate them more in your daily diet and see how you feel and what it does for your own health, energy and vitality. This is a great alternative to PUFA's and sugars and personally I've never felt so energised using this natural ingredient.