A lot of people are jumping on the keto diet bandwagon to lose weight and gain energy. To live more healthy overall. One part of a “complete” keto diet is using MCT oil in cooking and as a supplement.
It’s important for you to know the truth about MCT oil so you can make an informed decision regarding whether or not to use it yourself.
MCTs are a form of saturated fat that has been shown to have some significant health benefits. But wait!
Saturated fats? Aren’t those bad for your health? Don’t they lead to heart disease?
Well, yes. Some do, but not MCTs.
Medium-chain triglycerides, MCTs, are also called medium-chain fatty acids. They have been shown to have benefits to your health where the long-chain fatty acids found in most saturated fats do not.
Healthy fats like MCTs are easier to digest than the long-chain fatty acids and have more health benefits. Because they are easier to digest, they go quickly to the liver where they’re turned into fuel for your body. They aren’t stored as fat in the same way long-chain fatty acids are. This makes them less likely to bring on heart disease.
There are a number of health benefits you can gain from these MCTs. Let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Weight Control. Research has shown MCTs to have the potential to help you lose and/or maintain weight. Part of the way they do this is by helping you feel full longer, thereby reducing your urge to eat between meals or overeat during meals. Also, MCTs may raise your metabolic rate, helping you burn calories faster.
Some of you may think this means the more MCTs you consume, the more weight you’ll lose. Not necessarily. Not all of the studies have shown MCTs to help with weight loss, but there have been some clear indications of positive effects on metabolic rate.
Some research studies have shown MCTs to keep fat deposits down by helping your body burn fats more efficiently. In this way, they give you results similar to the keto diet but without reducing your intake of carbs so drastically.
Because they heat up your body so well and can be converted into energy so quickly, MCTs have been called ‘the ultimate ketogenic fats.’ This helps you reach ketosis faster if you’re on the keto diet.
2. May Improve Heart Health. One study published in 2010 showed MCTs to help guard against cardiovascular disease by aiding in decreasing the likelihood of becoming obese. They accomplish this by being easy to digest, having anti-inflammatory properties, being used quickly for energy for your body, and by helping stay feeling full. Decreasing the risk of becoming obese also decreases your risk of developing dyslipidemia, hypertension, and problems with blood sugar levels.
3. Can Increase Energy and Improve Mood. Because of MCTs ease of digestion and usage and their protective functions in your body, they are thought to be a good source of energy for your brain. Your brain is made up largely of fatty acids, so a good supply is needed to promote clear thinking, staying sharp cognitively, and performing your best at work.
Research published in 2004 showed the benefits of MCTs found in coconut oil to be of value even in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to MCTs not only supplying fuel for your brain but also helping you absorb vitamins and minerals more effectively, leading to clearer thinking, more energy, and a positive outlook on life. Your cognitive ability is also aided by MCTs through their ability to keep your gut health optimized. The gut-brain connection everyone has is the basis for this.
4. Helps With Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients. Balancing the bacteria in your gut has many benefits. It keeps your digestion working properly, decreases the amount of energy used in digesting foods, and improves your ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat. In addition, the medium-chain fatty acids help in destroying some of the pathogens that make their way into your digestive system through the foods you eat. Some of these viruses and bacteria can cause significant digestive problems.
MCTs also help you absorb fat soluble nutrients in your foods more effectively. Some of these nutrients include Vitamin E, beta carotene, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. Those of you on plant-based diets may not be getting enough healthy fats in your food, so you’re missing out on some of these essential nutrients without eating these fats like MCTs.
5. Antibacterial, Antifungal, and Antiviral Properties. Possibly the most important of these properties is the ability of MCTs to ‘target’ the bad bacteria in your gut without damaging the good bacteria you need. There are a number of these good bacteria that are important in the digestive process. Also, with so many bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, having a natural antibiotic to rid your body of harmful bacteria is a great benefit.
6. Handles High Heat Cooking. MCT oil is well-suited for use in cooking with high heat. Unlike some other oils, such as extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil, MCTs won’t turn rancid and harmful to your health when used with high heat. MCT oils have a high ‘smoke point’ and won’t oxidize at high temperatures. This makes them good to use in baking, grilling, or in stir-frying.
7. May Support Hormone Balance. Fats are necessary for the production and balancing of fats in the body. MCTs appear to be a good fat to consume in your effort to have balanced hormones. Keeping your hormones in balance also can aid in keeping a healthy body weight and can increase your insulin sensitivity and have a positive effect on blood sugar regulation.
8. May Have A Positive Effect On Autism, Epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s. Some research suggests a ketogenic diet and MCT oil may have benefits for those with autism, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.
The ketogenic diet was first developed to help people with epilepsy. Research has shown ketone production can reduce the frequency of seizures. With the ability of MCTs to be converted into ketones, they may positively affect seizure activity. Some studies have supported this idea.
One of the major factors in Alzheimer’s disease is its negative effect on the brain’s ability to use sugar as energy. MCTs can provide an alternate source of energy for the brain: ketones. MCTs also appear to block a receptor in the brain that causes memory loss. Some recent research has supported the positive effects of MCTs on Alzheimer’s. More research is needed.
Some research has shown adding MCTs to a ketogenic diet to have positive effects on autistic behavior. Because of the spectrum of autistic disorders, whether or how much beneficial effect comes from MCTs is very much an individual thing.
In general, MCT oil has been considered safe to use. However, there are some potential negative effects just as there are with any other type of supplement or diet.
1. Can Stimulate Hunger Hormones. Just as MCTs trigger the release of hormones that keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, they may also trigger hunger hormones in some people. One study found MCTs to trigger the release of two hormones, ghrelin and neuropeptide Y, that tend to stimulate hunger. It is not clear whether these two hormones actually cause you to eat more.
2. Potential Fat Buildup In Your Liver. Over time, consuming large amounts of MCT oil can lead to a buildup of fat in your liver. One study with mice showed a diet made up of 50% MCT oil to cause a buildup of fat in the liver. Such high doses of MCT oil are not recommended for humans. Only 5% to 10% of your caloric intake should be MCTs. More research is needed into the long-term effects of MCT oil.
3. Atherosclerosis. You should keep in mind that a growing body of research shows all processed oils contribute to hardening of the arteries due to age – atherosclerosis. And MCT oils are processed oils. These types of oils also contribute to high blood pressure, cataracts, Type 2 diabetes, and may even increase the speed of aging. Much more research is needed in this area.
4. Potential Weight Gain. All fats are high in calories. Even if you derive the benefits from MCT oil, you may also find yourself gaining weight if you have a sedentary occupation and don’t exercise enough. The thermogenic effect of MCT oil that supposedly helps you burn more fats has not been adequately supported by research with humans.
There are several health benefits to be gained from consuming MCT oil. However, there are also several potential negatives from using this same oil. Long term research is needed to determine whether the hype about MCT oil is true or if there are significant drawbacks to its use. Educating yourself with the information in this article and through other sources is the best way to decide whether you will use MCT oil.
6 Health Benefits of MCT Oil — Is It Better than Coconut Oil? https://draxe.com/mct-oil/
MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil: What Is MCT Oil Really? https://blog.bulletproof.com/what-is-mct-oil-vs-coconut-oil/
MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil: The Truth Exposed http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/mct-oil-vs-coconut-oil-the-truth-exposed/
Benefits of MCT Oil https://wellnessmama.com/98671/mct-oil-benefits/
7 Science-Based Benefits of MCT Oil https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-benefits
MCT Oil Benefits vs. Side Effects: More Harm Than Good? https://www.superfoodly.com/mct-oil-benefits-side-effects/ Negative Side Effects of MCT Oil: Four Steps to Losing Fat with MCT Oils https://ketoaholics.com/negative-side-effects-of-mct-oil/