MCT oils, short for medium-chain triglyceride oils, are a unique form of dietary fats that offer several health benefits and are increasingly popular in wellness communities. Unlike the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most fats, MCTs are shorter in length, which makes them easier to digest. They are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and transported directly to the liver, where they are converted into energy. This quick conversion process gives MCT oils their reputation as a fast and efficient source of energy.

MCT oils are primarily extracted from coconut oil, as more than 50% of the fat in coconut oil comes from MCTs. However, these oils can also be derived from other sources like palm kernel oil and dairy products. The process of extracting MCT oil involves fractionation, which separates the MCTs from the original oil.

The most common uses of MCT oil relate to weight management and energy boost. Due to their shorter chain length, MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to be burned as energy. This makes them a popular choice in ketogenic diets, where the body is trained to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. MCT oil is also favored by athletes and fitness enthusiasts for its ability to provide rapid energy, which can enhance exercise performance and endurance.

The top 8 MCT Oils

Product name Image Rating Pros Cons Best Price More information

TOP PICK
Sports Research MCT Oil

Sports Research MCT Oil
  • Made from organic coconuts
  • Contains a full spectrum of MCTs
  • Aids in fat burning for energy
  • High calorie per serving
  • May not be ideal for specific dietary restrictions
Coming Soon!

BUDGET PICK
Nature’s Way Organic MCT Oil

Nature’s Way Organic MCT Oil 4 star review
  • Supports weight management
  • Enhances energy production
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Limited servings per bottle
  • May not suit all dietary preferences
Coming Soon!

Viva Naturals Organic MCT Oil

Viva Naturals Organic MCT Oil
  • Boosts energy and mental focus
  • Assists in weight management
  • Tasteless and odorless for easy mixing
  • Potential allergen for tree nut sensitivities
  • Contains 130 calories per serving
Coming Soon!

Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil Packets

Bulletproof Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil Packets
  • Designed for sustained energy
  • Supports weight management
  • Enhances cognitive function
  • Lower MCT content per serving
  • Tolerance may need to be built up gradually
Coming Soon!

Now Foods MCT Oil

Now Foods MCT Oil
  • Aids in weight management
  • Offers additional natural health benefits
  • Free from common allergens
  • Limited number of servings per bottle
  • Contains 100 calories per serving
Coming Soon!

Left Coast Performance MCT Oil

Left Coast Performance MCT Oil
  • Pure coconut source, no palm oil
  • Ideal C8 and C10 triglyceride balance
  • Contains saturated fat
  • May not align with all dietary preferences
Coming Soon!

Micro Ingredients Organic MCT Oil

Micro Ingredients Organic MCT Oil
  • Convenient powder form
  • Supports keto energy and fat burning
  • Lower MCT content in powder form
  • May not be as effective as oil for some users
Coming Soon!

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic MCT Oil

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic MCT Oil
  • This MCT oil is derived from 100% organic coconuts and is non-GMO verified
  • Formulated for brain health and activity
  • Keto and paleo diet-friendly
  • The oil is flavorless and can be easily added to coffee, smoothies, salads, or used in cooking without altering the taste of the food.
  • Higher calorie content per serving
  • Some users may experience digestive issues such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea, especially if they are new to MCT oil or consume too much at once.
Coming Soon!

The History of MCT Oil

The history of MCT (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) oil is intertwined with the history of dietary fats and their understanding in nutrition science. MCT oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides, typically extracted from coconut or palm kernel oil through a process called fractionation. This process separates the MCTs, which are fats with a medium-length chain of carbon atoms, from other types of fats present in these oils.

The interest in MCTs began in earnest in the 20th century, particularly in the context of research on fats and their different impacts on human health. Scientists discovered that different types of fats have varying effects on the body, particularly in terms of digestion, absorption, and metabolism. MCTs stood out because they are absorbed and metabolized more quickly than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), making them a rapid source of energy. This led to interest in their potential health benefits, especially for individuals with malabsorption issues, athletes needing quick energy, or those looking to control weight and improve metabolic health.

MCT oil gained significant attention in the context of the ketogenic diet, where it's valued for its ability to rapidly produce ketones, compounds produced when the body burns fat for energy. This made MCT oil a popular supplement among those following a ketogenic lifestyle, aiming to enhance weight loss, energy levels, and mental clarity.

In recent years, the popularity of MCT oil has surged, particularly within the health and wellness community. It's often marketed as a supplement for weight management, energy boost, and cognitive function improvement. However, it's important to note that while MCT oil is lauded for these benefits, research is ongoing, and it should be integrated into a diet considering overall health goals and conditions.

Ingredients of MCT Oil

MCT oil is a supplement made primarily from medium-chain triglycerides. These are a type of fat that is metabolized differently than the more common long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most foods. The ingredients in MCT oil typically include:
  • Caprylic Acid (C8): This is a medium-chain fatty acid that is rapidly absorbed and converted into ketones, which are used by the brain and muscles for energy. It constitutes a significant part of MCT oil.
  • Capric Acid (C10): Another medium-chain fatty acid, capric acid is also quickly metabolized and converted into energy. It is usually present alongside caprylic acid in MCT oil.
  • Lauric Acid (C12): Although technically a medium-chain fatty acid, lauric acid behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid in the body. It is slower to metabolize and less likely to be immediately converted into energy compared to C8 and C10.
  • Carrier Oils (in some products): Some MCT oil products may include a carrier oil to aid in the dilution and absorption of the MCTs. However, high-quality MCT oils typically do not contain any carrier oils and are composed entirely of MCTs.
MCT oil is often derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil, as these are rich sources of medium-chain triglycerides. However, through fractionation, MCT oil is more concentrated in medium-chain triglycerides than the oils from which it is derived.

Who should take MCT Oil

MCT oil can be beneficial for several groups of individuals, but as with any supplement, its use should be tailored to specific needs and circumstances:
  • Individuals on a Ketogenic Diet: Those following a ketogenic diet often use MCT oil to help maintain a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. MCTs are quickly converted into ketones, which can be used for energy.
  • Athletes Seeking Quick Energy: Athletes may use MCT oil for a quick source of energy that doesn’t require the longer digestion process associated with long-chain triglycerides.
  • People with Fat Absorption Issues: Individuals with malabsorption problems or specific gastrointestinal disorders that make digesting fats difficult may benefit from MCT oil since it's more easily absorbed than long-chain fatty acids.
  • Weight Management: Some people use MCT oil as part of a weight management plan. The theory is that MCTs can help increase satiety and raise the metabolic rate.
  • Those Seeking Cognitive Benefits: There’s interest in MCT oil for brain health because ketones, produced when MCT oil is metabolized, can be an alternative energy source for the brain.
  • Individuals Seeking General Wellness: Some use MCT oil for its potential benefits in terms of energy levels, mental clarity, and overall health.

Who should NOT use MCT Oil

While MCT oil can be beneficial for many, it's not suitable for everyone. Certain individuals should use MCT oil cautiously or avoid it altogether:
  • People with Liver Diseases: Since MCTs are processed through the liver, individuals with liver conditions may need to avoid MCT oil, as it could potentially strain or worsen liver function.
  • Individuals with a Coconut or Palm Allergy: Since MCT oil is often derived from coconut or palm kernel oil, those with allergies to these sources should avoid MCT oil or seek a product derived from a different source.
  • People on Low-Fat Diets: MCT oil is a concentrated source of fats. Those on medically prescribed low-fat diets for conditions like pancreatitis or fat malabsorption should consult with a healthcare professional before using MCT oil.
  • Individuals with Heart Disease Risk: Due to its high saturated fat content, individuals with or at risk for heart disease should be cautious. The impact of saturated fats, like those in MCT oil, on heart health is a topic of ongoing research and debate.
  • Those with Gastrointestinal Sensitivity: MCT oil can cause gastrointestinal distress in some people, including symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and cramping, especially when consumed in large amounts.
  • People Looking for Nutrient-Rich Oils: Unlike whole-food sources of fat, MCT oil does not contain other nutrients like essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Pros and Cons of MCT Oil

Pros

  • Quick Source of Energy: MCT oil is rapidly absorbed and metabolized, providing a quick source of energy, especially beneficial for athletes and those on ketogenic diets.
  • Supports Ketogenic Diet: MCT oil can promote ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, which is the goal of a ketogenic diet.
  • May Aid Weight Loss: MCT oil may help with weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness, boosting metabolism, and reducing fat storage.
  • Cognitive Benefits: There's some evidence suggesting MCT oil can provide cognitive benefits, especially for individuals experiencing mild cognitive impairment.
  • Appetite Suppression: MCT oil can help reduce hunger, which aids in calorie control and weight management.
  • Can Be Added to Many Foods and Beverages: Due to its neutral taste, MCT oil can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes and drinks.
  • Gut Health Benefits: MCT oil may have positive effects on gut health, including antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Boosts Athletic Performance: Some athletes use MCT oil for an energy boost and to increase endurance during workouts.
  • Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity: MCT oil may help improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for people with diabetes or at risk for it.
  • Beneficial for Certain Neurological Disorders: MCT oil is being researched for potential benefits in managing epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.

Cons

  • Digestive Issues: Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating, especially when starting MCT oil or at higher doses.
  • High Caloric Density: MCT oil is high in calories, which can be a drawback for those monitoring their caloric intake for weight management.
  • Potential Heart Health Concerns: High intake of MCT oil could raise lipid profiles, potentially impacting heart health negatively, especially in large doses.
  • Lack of Comprehensive Research: While there are promising benefits, comprehensive long-term studies on MCT oil are limited, leading to uncertainty about its overall health impact.
  • Not a Comprehensive Nutrient Source: MCT oil lacks essential nutrients found in whole-food sources of fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
  • May Affect Liver Health: High consumption of MCTs could potentially strain the liver due to the rapid rate at which they are metabolized.
  • Allergic Reactions: Rare, but possible allergic reactions, especially in individuals allergic to coconuts, as many MCT oils are derived from coconut oil.
  • Not Suitable for Cooking at High Temperatures: MCT oil has a low smoke point, making it unsuitable for high-temperature cooking methods.
  • Cost: High-quality MCT oil can be relatively expensive compared to other dietary oils or supplements.

Studies regarding the benefits of MCT OILS

 
  • Potential Health Benefits of MCT Oil: This overview highlights the different digestion and energy conversion processes of MCTs compared to long-chain triglycerides, suggesting benefits in energy utilization and reduced fat storage​​.
 
  • MCT Oil: Benefits & How Much Of It To Take A Day: This source discusses the ketogenic effects of MCT oil, particularly for those on a keto diet, and notes its quick digestion and energy supply benefits, although long-term impacts need more research​​.
   
  • The Truth About MCT Oil [Dosage, Benefits, and Risk]: This research indicates MCTs can boost cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and various neurological conditions. It also suggests potential longevity benefits based on MCT-rich diets in certain populations​​.
 
  • 7 Health Benefits of MCT Oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides): This study notes modest but not clinically significant effects of MCTs on weight loss, waist and hip circumference. It also mentions slight improvements in exercise performance and increased insulin sensitivity in some studies, though findings are mixed on blood sugar control​​.
 
  • 10 Proven Health Benefits of MCT Oil: This research highlights MCT oil's potential in aiding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy management, fighting bacteria, and improving symptoms of autism. It also underscores MCT oil's role in producing ketones, which can serve as an alternative energy source for the brain​​.

Frequently Asked Question about MCT Oils

What is MCT oil and how does it differ from other oils?

MCT oil, or Medium-Chain Triglyceride oil, is derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most dietary fats, MCTs have a shorter chain length, which makes them easier to digest. They are rapidly absorbed and transported directly to the liver, where they are quickly converted into energy or ketones, making them a popular supplement for those on ketogenic or low-carb diets.

What are the benefits of using MCT oil?

MCT oil offers several benefits, including:

  • Quick Energy Source: MCTs are rapidly converted into energy, providing a quick fuel source for the body and brain.
  • Supports Ketosis: Helps increase ketone levels, which is beneficial for those following a ketogenic diet.
  • Weight Management: May promote weight loss by increasing satiety and boosting metabolism.
  • Cognitive Function: Some studies suggest that MCTs can improve cognitive function and mental clarity.
  • Gut Health: MCT oil has antimicrobial properties that can help balance gut flora.

How should I use MCT oil in my diet?

MCT oil can be incorporated into your diet in various ways:

  • In Beverages: Add to coffee, tea, or smoothies.
  • Cooking: Use in salad dressings, sauces, or as a cooking oil for low to medium heat recipes.
  • Baking: Substitute for other oils or butter in baking recipes.
  • Direct Consumption: Take it by the spoonful as a supplement. Start with a small amount (1 teaspoon) and gradually increase to avoid digestive issues.

Are there any side effects of MCT oil?

While generally safe for most people, MCT oil can cause side effects, particularly if consumed in large amounts. Common side effects include:

  • Digestive Issues: Diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea, especially when first introducing it to your diet.
  • Caloric Intake: It is calorie-dense, so excessive consumption can lead to weight gain if not balanced with overall caloric intake.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may be allergic to MCT oil, particularly if derived from palm oil.

Can MCT oil help with weight loss?

MCT oil can aid in weight loss by:

  • Increasing Satiety: Helps you feel fuller longer, reducing overall calorie intake.
  • Boosting Metabolism: Can increase the number of calories burned, promoting fat loss.
  • Enhancing Ketosis: Supports the production of ketones, which can help the body burn fat for fuel.

However, it should be used as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Over-reliance on MCT oil without other dietary changes is unlikely to result in significant weight loss.

Is MCT oil safe for everyone?

MCT oil is generally safe for most people, but there are some exceptions:

  • Pregnant or Nursing Women: Should consult with a healthcare provider before use.
  • Individuals with Liver Disease: MCTs are processed in the liver, so those with liver conditions should seek medical advice before use.
  • People with Allergies: Particularly to coconut or palm oil, should avoid MCT oil derived from these sources.

How does MCT oil support cognitive function?

MCT oil can enhance cognitive function by:

  • Providing Ketones: An alternative energy source for the brain, which can be particularly beneficial for people with cognitive impairments or neurodegenerative conditions.
  • Improving Mental Clarity: Users often report enhanced focus and mental clarity when consuming MCT oil regularly.

Some studies suggest potential benefits for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, but more research is needed.

What are the different types of MCTs found in MCT oil?

MCT oil typically contains four types of MCTs, each with different properties:

  • Caproic Acid (C6): Quick energy source but can cause digestive upset.
  • Caprylic Acid (C8): Known for its strong antimicrobial properties and efficient energy conversion.
  • Capric Acid (C10): Slightly slower to convert to energy but still effective.
  • Lauric Acid (C12): Has antimicrobial properties but behaves more like a long-chain triglyceride (LCT) in the body.

Many high-quality MCT oils focus on C8 and C10 for their rapid energy conversion and benefits.

How does MCT oil affect athletic performance?

MCT oil can enhance athletic performance by:

  • Providing Quick Energy: Offers a rapid source of energy during workouts.
  • Reducing Lactate Build-Up: Some studies suggest it may help reduce lactate accumulation, improving exercise performance.
  • Promoting Fat Oxidation: Can increase the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel, beneficial for endurance athletes.

However, individual responses may vary, and it should be used in conjunction with a balanced diet and training regimen.

Can I use MCT oil if I'm not on a ketogenic diet?

Yes, MCT oil can be beneficial even if you’re not on a ketogenic diet. Its benefits, such as improved energy levels, enhanced cognitive function, and weight management support, can be enjoyed by anyone. It can be incorporated into a variety of diets and lifestyles, but moderation is key to avoid excessive caloric intake and potential digestive issues.