3 Main Benefits of MCT Oil for the Keto Diet
By Toni Sicola • January 24, 2020
Is there a perfect supplement for keto? If you want a myriad of health benefits, consider MCT oil.
While there’s no such thing as a miracle supplement, medium-chain triglycerides — or MCT oil — offer serious nutritional benefits to those on the ketogenic diet.
And there’s quite a bit of science to back up the health claims.
By adding MCT oil as a replacement for other oils in your diet you could be helping yourself finally reach the goals you’ve been striving for.
What is MCT Oil?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fatty acids found in tropical plant fats like coconut and palm oil. In fact, coconut oil is about 50% MCT fatty acids, so by replacing some of your cooking oil with coconut oil, you’ve already started adding more MCTs into your diet.
That being said, MCT oil offers even greater health benefits than coconut oil alone. It’s also more volatile, so you shouldn’t cook with it. Rather, you can add it to your coffee or use it in a salad dressing to avoid overheating it.
MCT fatty acids are digested differently than other healthy fats. Long-chain triglycerids (LCTs) are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. They also have 10% more calories per gram than MCTs.
While these fat sources are considered healthy by just about any type of nutrition enthusiast, expert, or doctor, there’s reason to believe that replacing some of your LCTs with MCTs could help you in more ways than one.
A big reason why this is so has to do with the way humans (and animals) digest MCTs. Because the chain of triglicerides is shorter in MCTs, they’re actually easier to digest and convert to fuel for your brain and body than other fat sources — even the healthiest fats.
In fact, MCTs head straight from your stomach to your liver for processing without requiring the assistance of bile from your gall bladder. This makes them a fuel source that’s more readily available for your use. If you’re following the ketogenic diet, MCTs can also help keep you get into and remain in ketosis because it can convert to ketones in your liver.
The two most studied MCTs are capric and caprylic acid. Most MCT oils available for purchase are made from coconut oil and feature both types.
3 Main Benefits of MCT Oil for Keto
As we’ve already hinted, MCT oil offers a host of health benefits. Studies show that it can not only help you in your weight loss efforts, it might also help boost brain and immune function.
1 - Weight Loss
MCT oil has been shown in a number of studies to positively affect weight loss efforts on a number of fronts when it’s used as a replacement for other oils.
First, it may help you feel full for longer by increasing two hormones that help with satiety. They’re called peptide YY and leptin.
It may also reduce glucose production, which helps you feel fuller for longer.
In a study comparing the effects of coconut oil versus MCT oil on lasting satiety, researchers found that the participants who took two tablespoons of MCT oil at breakfast ate smaller lunches than those who took the same amount of coconut oil.
2 - Brain Boost
If you’ve been following a ketogenic diet or have done any research on the diet, you may already know that the origins of the diet lie in neuroscience.
Originally developed for the treatment of epilepsy patients, the keto diet has risen in popularity in recent years as a rapid weight loss strategy.
MCT oil has been shown in studies to help amplify the efficacy of the keto diet on patients with epilepsy, at least in part due to its role in ketone production.
Because MCT oil can be converted to ketones in the liver, it’s actually a really amazing fuel source for the brain. Ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide instant fuel to the brain.
The effects may be linked to the fact that ketones replace glucose as a fuel source for the brain on this highly carb-restrictive diet.
3 - Immune System
One of the main drawbacks of the ketogenic diet is the initial keto flu.
These properties are due to the caprylic, capric and lauric acid found in both coconut oil and most MCT products.
The studies that have shown MCT and coconut oil’s ability to either kill or suppress the growth of fungal and bacterial infections have all been done in test tubes, so more work needs to be done in this area to find out how humans can benefit from these effects on a larger scale.
Furthermore, a huge percentage of your immune system lives in your gut. Gut health is critically important, not only for your immune system, for your overall health and wellbeing.
MCT oil can help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut, which offer anti-inflammatory protection, protection against food-borne illness, and protection for your gut lining.
Imagine What MCT Can Do for You!
By now it should be clear that MCT oil has the potential to positively affect your health on a number of fronts. It could be the missing piece in your diet.