Healthy fats are all the rage, and among these, MCT oil falls in a special category. A concentration of certain fats found in coconut oil, it promises to deliver quick energy and a host of other benefits.
“MCT” is an abbreviation for medium chain triglycerides, also called medium chain fatty acids. Fats are made of chains of molecules bound together and, depending upon the number of carbon atoms in a chain, are classified as short, medium, or long chain.
Health Benefits of MCT Oil
1. Boosting Energy
“Medium chain triglycerides are more easily digested than other fats,” says Larry Trivieri Jr., author of Coconuts for Your Health. “More importantly,” he adds, “unlike long chain triglycerides, which get stored in your body’s other cells, tissues, and organs, MCTs are stored in the liver, where they are quickly metabolized and converted into a readily available source of energy.”
2. Aiding in Weight Loss
Replacing other fats with MCT oil can produce weight loss. A Japanese study of 78 men and women compared the effects of MCT oil or long chain fatty acids in diets with the same amounts of calories and total fat. Measurements after 4, 8, and 12 weeks showed that at each stage, those consuming MCT oil lost significantly more fat.
Another study compared medium and long chain fats in a group of obese women. Researchers found that more fat calories were burned on a diet with medium chain fats.
Did you know?
Replacing other fats in your diet with MCT oil can help you lose weight.
3. Protecting the Heart
A review of studies, published in the journal Pharmacological Research, concluded that MCT oil may help to prevent metabolic syndrome, a combination of factors that increases risk for diabetes and heart disease. Studies suggested that the oil suppressed fat deposition, enhanced metabolism, and improved insulin sensitivity.
4. Fighting Bugs
MCT oil inhibits the growth of bugs that have become resistant to antibiotics, according to research at Kent State University in Ohio. One specific bacterium it fights is Clostridium difficile, a common cause of infection in hospitals. MCT oil has also been found to combat Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli.
5. Helping Alzheimer’s Patients
People suffering from Alzheimer’s have experienced improvement in memory and other symptoms when taking coconut oil or MCT oil, and research into this effect is ongoing at the University of South Florida’s Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa.
How to Choose & Use MCT Oil
MCT oils contain three main types of fatty acids: lauric, capric, and caprylic acids. All are classified as medium chain, but lauric is a somewhat longer chain than the others, and is often considered to be less beneficial for energy boosting and fat-burning. However, some research has found lauric acid to be the most powerful of the three in fighting bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
MCT oil triggers production of ketones, substances generated when fat is burned for energy. For optimum energy-boosting and weight-control effects, try incorporating MCT oil into a diet that contains nonstarchy vegetables rather than starchy or sugary carbohydrates.
How much to take: 1 Tbs. daily, or about 13 grams if taking capsules. MCT oil can be added to food, smoothies, or taken by itself. Some products come in a variety of flavors. MCT oil supplements are made from coconut and/or palm oil, another rich source of MCTs.