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Here Is an updated version of MCT Oil For Beginners If you want to read the original before reading this one you can either click the link or you can read the section titled Original MCT Oil For Beginners. In this updated version I will be adding a few more benefits of MCT Oil Or Coconut Oil. Keep reading for more info.
It’s a Long Term, Weight Loss Godsend
A meta-analysis of 13 studies published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) can help you lose weight when they replace long-chain triglycerides (like those from soybean and canola oil) in your diet. A Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology showed that the MCT in coconut oil can increase diet-induced thermogenesis in humans by as much as 6 percent. And yet another study found MCTs to increase 24-hour energy expenditure in humans by as much as 5 percent. Now, burning an extra 100-120 calories per day might not sound like much but over a year, it amounts to at least 36,000 calories. That’s more cals than you’d find in over 10 pounds of dangerous and unsightly belly fat.
It Kills Bacteria
Around half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. Lauric acid is particularly good at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi; therefore, it’s great in helping you stave off infections when used externally. To get the most potent antibacterial properties, a Journal of Medicinal Food study found virgin coconut oil—rather than refined—to be your best bet.
On the other hand, when you ingest coconut oil, it reacts with enzymes to forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. And guess what? Monolaurin is great for killing harmful pathogens, too! In addition to keeping all kinds of nastiness at bay, both of these substances have been shown to kill the bacteria and very dangerous pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast Candida albicans, which is a common source of yeast infections. The benefits of coconut oil don’t end there though.
It Can Help You Build and Maintain Muscle
As mentioned above, MCTs in coconut oil are good for upping your body’s energy expenditure and burning calories. Here’s yet another way this wonder-stuff can help you look better naked. It’s great for building muscle, according to a Diabetes study! MCTs found in coconut are also used in popular muscle-building products like Perfect Keto Protein Powder. But many supplements use processed forms of MCT’s. By eating adding actual coconut oil, you’ll benefit from getting your MCT’s in their natural and most effective form. Add 3 tablespoons of it to a muscle building shake daily to feel the full benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Curbs Appetite
Scientists suspect that coconut oil’s interesting effect on hunger may be related to the way the fatty acids in it are metabolized. In a short-term study, varying amounts of medium and long-chain triglycerides were fed to 6 healthy men. The men eating the most MCTs ate 256 fewer calories per day, on average. In a second short study, 14 healthy men discovered that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate significantly fewer calories at lunch. These studies over a significant period of time, adding the MCT-rich benefits of coconut oil to one’s diet could have a very positive effect on weight and body composition.
It Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
The digestion of MCT’s by the liver creates ketones: a readily accessible energy for the brain. Recent research has shown that the brain actually creates its own insulin to process glucose and power brain cells. As the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient has lost the ability to create its own insulin, the ketones from the benefits of coconut oil could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function.
Multiple studies have explored using medium chain triglycerides and ketones as Alzheimer’s treatment; however, a more recent review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience notes that definitive scientific and clinical evidence has yet to be found to support coconut oil’s role in preventing or treating Alzheimer’s.
It Helps with Memory
A 2004 study published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging demonstrated that the MCT’s found in coconut oil improved the memory problems their older subjects were experiencing. All patients felt the benefits of coconut oil in the study and saw a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking the fatty acid. It’s thought that this is due to MCT’s being absorbed more easily in the body. As they can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin, they are able to more efficient fuel brain cells.
Interest in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has grown rapidly over the last few years.
This is partly due to the widely-publicized benefits of coconut oil, a rich source of them.
Many advocates boast that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can aid in weight loss.
In addition, MCT oil has become a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.
Here is everything you need to know about MCTs, including what they are and what health benefits they may have.
What is MCT?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats found in foods like coconut oil. They are metabolized differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most other foods.
MCT oil is a supplement that contains a lot of these fats and is claimed to have many health benefits.
Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat.
Triglycerides are named after their chemical structure, more specifically the length of their fatty acid chains. All triglycerides are made up of a glycerol molecule and 3 fatty acids.
The majority of fat in your diet is made up of long-chain fatty acids, which contain 13–21 carbons. Short-chain fatty acids have fewer than 6 carbon atoms.
In contrast, the medium-chain fatty acids in MCTs have 6–12 carbon atoms.
These are the main medium-chain fatty acids:
- C6: Caproic acid or hexanoic acid.
- C8: Caprylic acid or octanoic acid.
- C10: Capric acid or decanoic acid.
- C12: Lauric acid or dodecanoic acid.
Some experts argue that C6, C8, and C10, which are referred to as the “capra fatty acids,” reflect the definition of MCT more accurately than C12 (lauric acid) (Medium-chain triglycerides).
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are types of fatty acids containing 6–12 carbons. They include caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12).
Medium-Chain Triglycerides are Metabolized Differently
Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body.
Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver.
There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones, which are substances produced when the liver breaks down large amounts of fat.
Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.
Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.
Due to their shorter chain length, medium-chain triglycerides are more rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. This makes them a fast energy source and less likely to be stored as fat.
Sources of Medium-Chain Triglycerides
There are two main ways to increase the amount of MCT in your diet — through whole food sources or supplements such as MCT oil.
Whole Food Sources
These foods are the richest in medium-chain triglycerides, shown as the percentage of fatty acids that are MCTs (Molecular weight distributions of milk fat triglycerides from seven species):
- Coconut oil: Greater than 60%.
- Palm kernel oil: Greater than 50%.
- Dairy products: 10–12%.
Although the sources above are rich in MCTs, their compositions vary. For example, coconut oil contains all four types of MCTs, plus a small amount of LCTs.
However, its MCTs consist of greater amounts of lauric acid (C12) and smaller amounts of the “capra fatty acids” (C6, C8, and C10). In fact, coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid (C12), making it one of the best natural sources of this fatty acid.
Compared to coconut oil, dairy sources tend to have a higher proportion of capra fatty acids (C6, C8, and C10) and a lower proportion of lauric acid (C12).
In milk, capra fatty acids make up 4–12% of all fatty acids, and lauric acid (C12) makes up 2–5% (The composition of bovine milk lipids).
Whole food sources of MCTs include coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy products. However, their MCT composition varies.
MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides.
It is man-made, through a process called fractionation. This involves extracting and isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.
MCT oils generally contain either 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10) or a combination of the two.
Caproic acid (C6) is not normally included due to its unpleasant taste and smell. Lauric acid (C12) is often missing or present in only small amounts (Medium-chain triglycerides).
Given that lauric acid is the main component in coconut oil, be careful of manufacturers who market MCT oils as “liquid coconut oil,” which is misleading.
Many people debate whether lauric acid reduces or enhances the quality of MCT oils.
Many advocates market MCT oil as better than coconut oil because caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are thought to be more rapidly absorbed and processed for energy than lauric acid (C12).
Since C13 is a long-chain fatty acid and lauric acid (C12) is quite similar in structure, some experts argue that it might act more like a long-chain fat, making it less valuable.
Although evidence supports that lauric acid is more rapidly absorbed in the body than LCTs, one study suggests that lengthening the carbon chain by 2 carbons can slow down the rate of diffusion by 100 times (Fatty acid transport: difficult or easy,
Therefore, compared to other medium-chain triglycerides, lauric acid may be a slightly less efficient way to obtain energy. However, it also has unique health benefits.
For example, lauric acid has even more anti-microbial properties than caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10), meaning it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses (Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile,
MCT oil is an easy way to get large concentrations of certain MCTs. It usually contains C8, C10 or a combination of the two.
Which Should You Choose
The source best for you depends on your goals and the amount of medium-chain triglycerides you want.
It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential benefits. In studies, doses range from 5–70 grams (0.17–2.5 oz) of MCT daily.
If your aim is to achieve overall good health, using coconut oil or palm kernel oil in cooking is probably sufficient.
However, for higher doses, you might want to consider MCT oil.
One of the good things about MCT oil is that it has virtually no taste or smell. It can be consumed straight from the jar or alternatively mixed into food or drinks.
Coconut and palm kernel oils are rich sources of medium-chain triglycerides, but MCT oil supplements contain much larger amounts.
MCT Oil May Help With Weight Loss in Several Ways
There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:
- Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (Beneficial Effects on Energy, Atherosclerosis and Aging).
- Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men).
- Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat.
- Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response,
- The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation,
- Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption,
- Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity,
- Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications,
- Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate ,
- Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men).
- Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted.
- Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.
MCTs may aid in weight loss through reduced calorie intake, increased fullness, less fat storage, improved calorie burning and increased ketones on low-carb diets.
Do MCTs Actually Cause Weight Loss
While many studies have found positive effects of MCTs on weight loss, other studies have found no effects (Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials).
In a review of 14 studies, 7 evaluated fullness, 8 measured weight loss, and 6 assessed calorie-burning.
Only one study found increases in fullness, while 6 studies found reductions in weight and 4 found increased calorie burning (Influence of the dietary intake of medium chain triglycerides).
In another review of 12 animal studies, 7 reported a decrease in weight gain and 5 found no differences. In terms of food intake, 4 detected a decrease, 1 detected an increase and 7 found no differences (Influence of medium-chain triglycerides on consumption and weight gain in rats).
In addition, the amount of weight loss caused by MCTs is actually very modest.
A review of 13 studies found that on average the amount of weight loss on a diet high in MCTs was only 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) over 3 weeks or more when compared to a diet high in LCTs (Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition).
Another study found that a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides resulted in a 2-lb (0.9-kg) greater weight loss than a diet rich in LCTs over a 12 week period (Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women).
Further high-quality studies are needed to determine how effective MCTs are for weight loss and what amounts need to be taken to experience benefits.
A diet high in medium-chain triglycerides may help with weight loss, although the effect is generally quite modest.
Evidence for MCTs Enhancing Exercise Performance is Weak
MCTs are thought to increase energy levels during high-intensity exercise and serve as an alternative energy source, sparing glycogen stores.
This may positively affect endurance and have benefits for athletes on low-carb diets.
One animal study found that mice fed a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides did much better in swimming tests than mice fed a diet rich in LCTs (Swimming endurance capacity of mice is increased by chronic consumption of medium-chain triglycerides).
Additionally, consuming food containing MCTs instead of LCTs for 2 weeks resulted in longer duration of high-intensity exercise among recreational athletes (Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate- and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes).
Although the evidence seems positive, there are not enough studies available to confirm this benefit, and the overall link is weak (Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance).
The link between MCTs and improved exercise performance is weak and more studies are needed to confirm these claims.
Other Potential Health Benefits of MCT oil
The use of medium-chain triglycerides and MCT oil has been associated with several other health benefits.
MCTs have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.
For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (Effect of various triglycerides on blood and tissue cholesterol of calves).
Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation.
A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity).
Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.
However, it is important to note that some older studies report that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol (Comparison of the effects of medium-chain triacylglycerols, palm oil, and high oleic acid sunflower oil on plasma triacylglycerol fatty acids and lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in humans,
One study in 14 healthy men reported that MCT supplements negatively affected cholesterol, increasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (Effects of medium-chain fatty acids and oleic acid on blood lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, insulin, and lipid transfer protein activities).
Diets high in MCT-rich foods like coconut oil may have benefits for cholesterol levels. However, the evidence is mixed.
MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (Dietary substitution of medium-chain triglycerides improves insulin-mediated glucose metabolism in NIDDM subjects).
Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance
However, evidence for the use of medium-chain triglycerides in diabetes is limited. More research is needed to determine its full effects.
MCTs may help lower blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance. However, more research is needed to confirm this benefit.
MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.
Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease).
One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (Role of Medium Chain Triglycerides (Axona®) in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease).
Overall, the evidence is limited to short studies with small sample sizes, so more research is needed.
MCTs may improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease who have a particular genetic make-up. More research is needed.
Other Medical Conditions
Because MCTs are an easily absorbed and digested energy source, they’ve been used for years to treat malnutrition and disorders that hinder nutrient absorption. Conditions that benefit from medium-chain triglyceride supplements include diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion) and liver disease. Patients undergoing bowel or stomach surgery may also benefit. Evidence also supports the use of MCTs in ketogenic diets treating epilepsy (Efficacy of dietary treatments for epilepsy). The use of MCTs allows children suffering from seizures to eat larger portions and tolerate more calories and carbs than on classic ketogenic diets (Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) ketogenic therapy).MCTs are effective at treating a number of clinical conditions including malnutrition, malabsorption disorders, and epilepsy.
Dosage, Safety and Side Effects
MCT oil appears to be safe for most people.
It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential health benefits, but many supplement labels suggest 1–3 tablespoons daily.
There are currently no reported adverse interactions with medications or other serious side effects.
However, some minor side effects have been reported and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and an upset stomach.
These can be avoided by starting with small doses, such as 1 teaspoon, and increasing intake slowly. Once tolerated, MCT oil can be taken by the tablespoon.
Type 1 Diabetes and MCTs
Some sources discourage people with type 1 diabetes from taking medium-chain triglycerides due to the accompanying production of ketones.
It is thought that high levels of ketones in the blood may increase the risk of ketoacidosis, a very serious condition that can occur in type 1 diabetics.
However, the nutritional ketosis caused by a low-carb diet is completely different than diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious condition caused by a lack of insulin.
In people with well-controlled diabetes and healthy blood sugar levels, the amount of ketones remain within a safe range even during ketosis.
There are limited studies available that explore the use of MCTs in type 1 diabetes. However, some have been conducted with no harmful effects (38).
MCT oil is safe for most people, but there are no clear dosage guidelines. Start with small doses and gradually increase your intake.
Medium-chain triglycerides have many potential health benefits.
While they are not a ticket to dramatic weight loss, they may provide a modest benefit. The same can be said for their role in endurance exercise.
For these reasons, adding MCT oil to your diet may be worth a try.
However, remember that whole food sources like coconut oil and grass-fed dairy have additional benefits that are not found in supplements.