What are the Benefits of MCT Oil on the Keto Diet?
MCT oil can bypass the stomach and go directly to the liver to be converted into ketones (ketogenesis). Individuals on a ketogenic or low carbohydrate diet can then use those ketones as efficient energy.
Ketones can also bypass the blood-brain barrier and provide an alternative source of fuel to the brain. MCT oil has also been shown in some studies to improve the condition of those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
However, more research is needed to draw concrete conclusions in this area. MCT oil has also been shown to lower triglycerides which can improve liver function.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT oil is a special triglyceride (fat) that is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides. They are extracted from coconut or palm kernel oil. MCTs are medium chain triglycerides and are metabolized completely different than most other fats which are long chain triglycerides.
Most of the fats that we eat are long chain fatty acids which are composed of 13-21 carbons. Short chain fatty acids have less than 6 carbon atoms, and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) have between 6 and 12 carbon atoms.
Here’s a look at the primary fatty acids in MCTs:
- C6- Caproic acid
- C8- Caprylic acid
- C10- Capric acid
- C12- Lauric acid
You want to look for a combination of caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10). Those are the two most easily metabolized fats and are more readily converted into ketones. Lauric acid is often included also, but it doesn’t digest as easily. Bulletproof brand XCT oil is the gold standard because it only has the C8 and C10.
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.
MCTs really help when you are first starting out on Keto because when you take it on an empty stomach or when you are fasting, your liver converts it into ketones.
MCTs don’t have to be digested and go straight to the liver. Your mitochondria will then use those ketones to give your cells energy. So you’re “training” your mitochondria to use ketones. Just like anything in your body, if you do something often, you will get better at it.
Your cells get accustomed and adapted to using ketones as fuel and become more efficient at it. That is the very definition of becoming fat adapted.
Since your cells are being exposed to ketones and not glucose, your cells become more sensitive to insulin. The bottom line, MCT oil can improve insulin sensitivity. Read the study here.
MCT Oil Side Effects:
Some people experience diarrhea and/or intestinal discomfort when first starting on MCTs. Your liver has to adapt to the conversion of MCTs into ketones. When your liver can’t process all the MCTs, it sends the excess to be excreted in the feces. Some individuals suffer from rumbling and discomfort in the lower stomach followed by diarrhea.
This can be alleviated by starting with a low dose (1/4 teaspoon) and gradually working up to 1-2 tablespoons.
The other MCT oil side effect is:
Since your liver is converting MCT oil into ketones for energy, there is no need for your body to break down your own stored fat to convert as energy. So you are “burning” the MCT fat and not your own fat. MCT oil, in excess, might slow down your fat loss a little. Additionally, MCTs do have calories and would technically break your fast.
I would still highly recommend MCTs however because getting and staying fat adapted is extremely important in being able to stick with the Ketogenic Diet long term.
Taking MCTs is also a great way to begin and end a fast.
MCT oil can also help your workouts. Taking them right before or after a workout will help give you energy during your exercise routine and help you recover a little faster afterward. MCTs can greatly enhance any long cardiovascular/endurance workout by giving you a steady supply of ketones.
MCT oil has virtually no taste or smell. It can be consumed straight from the bottle or mixed into food or drinks (MCT oil in coffee works great).
MCT oil is good for brain health
Scientists are now calling Alzheimers disease type 3 diabetes. There is evidence that type 2 diabetes causes brain insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and cognitive impairment. Studies show insulin deficiency and insulin resistance are contributing factors to Alzheimer’s neurodegenerating effect on the brain.
Glucose is the brain’s primary energy source. In Alzheimer’s, there’s a pathological decrease in the brain’s ability to use glucose.
MCT oil and Weight Loss:
The primary ketone bodies (β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate), are the brain’s physiological alternative fuel to glucose. Three studies published on PubMD showed that an Alzheimer’s patient can utilize ketones just as efficiently as a healthy person.
The clinical trials demonstrated that providing ketones to the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient had a modest beneficial effect on cognitive impairment.
In the controlled study, the group that was taking the MCT oil showed a greater improvement in paragraph recall relative to the group that took the placebo.
Studies show that MCT oil can stunt the appetite hormone ghrelin. During the study, MCT consumption resulted in a lower rise in triglycerides and glucose and a higher rise in peptide and leptin. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full or satiated.
The group taking the MCT oil as opposed to the placebo saw a substantial reduction in food intake.
This is a big deal because with a reduced appetite it’s much easier to stick to the Ketogenic Diet and conduct intermittent fasting.
How do you use MCT oil?
Well, it is an oil so you have options. Some people drizzle a little on their salad, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT oil) is expensive and putting it on a salad is a little wasteful. Some of the oil will stick to the sides of the salad bowl and be wasted.
You could use it as a cooking oil when lightly heating up spinach or kale. Most of it would stick to the leaves so you wouldn’t be wasting as much.
Be careful when cooking with it though because you don’t want to heat it up past its smoke point ( 350 degrees F). The best way to take it is on an empty stomach, pure, in a table or teaspoon. That way you don’t waste any.
Like I pointed out earlier in this article, be careful in the beginning. Start out on a weekend or on a day off so you can be close to a toilette. Start out with half a teaspoon, then when you can tolerate that move up to a full teaspoon, then a full tablespoon.
My favorite way to take it is mixed up in my bulletproof coffee. Mix up all the ingredients and blend it up into a frothy delight. I typically use MCT oil, butter, inulin, coconut oil, collagen, heavy whipping cream and a dash of cocoa powder or cocoa butter.
Don’t overheat your oil
It (over-heating) also causes oxidation of the oil which makes it go rancid, causes free radical damage, and inflammation inside the body.
Taking antioxidant supplements will help prevent free radical damage and inflammation.
Why pay extra for organic, extra virgin olive oil only to heat it up so high it destroys the healthy properties of it?
Question of the day?