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Have you heard of MCT oil? MCT oil supplements have become very popular in the low-carb community. But what are the MCT oil health benefits?
Is MCT oil good for you? Or is it merely the latest food fad? Is MCT oil yet another scam that supposedly may help you burn fat and boost metabolism?
You may be wondering what ‘MCT’ stands for. ‘MCT’ is short for medium chain triglycerides. If you didn’t pay attention in high school chemistry, the following biochemistry lesson may leave you with glazed eyes….
Medium chain refers to the number of carbon atoms. Most fats that you eat have longer chains of carbon atoms. What’s interesting is that the fat you store in your body (unburned carbs, for example), is identical in carbon length to most dietary fat you eat. In other words, you store long-chain triglycerides, not medium-chain.
And that’s why MCT oil supplements have exploded seemingly overnight. Fans of MCT oil claim that because there are less carbon atoms, it’s easier for you to break down MCTs. But this thinking goes against low-carb logic.
Nutrition paradox of MCT oil
MCT oil is supposedly easier to digest than other fats. How does MCT oil compare to olive oil? Olive oil is not a MCT oil; it is 100% long chain (LCT). MCT oil skips the much of the digestion process, bypassing the large intestines entirely.
But this brings up a nutrition paradox. Isn’t it better for foods to digest more slowly? After all, simple carbs are easier to break down than complex carbs. However, we all know that simple carbs burn too quickly and store easily as unused energy (body fat). It’s not so much that your body burns MCTs faster; they are absorbed by the body faster and used for fuel more efficiently than LCTs.
But there’s something about MCT oil that makes it not act like a normal dietary fat. In fact, it acts more like a carb. Medium chain fats can be used by the muscles for energy. And that’s great for people on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. That’s because low-carb dieters can use MCT oil to burn up ketones. Burning up ketones allows the body to use stored fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Is there proof that MCT oil can help you lose weight?
There are lots more studies on coconut oil than MCT oil. Coconut oil, which is roughly 15% medium chain, has been popular for several years now. MCT oil has only been looked at as a serious dietary supplement for roughly a decade. Coconut oil has been shown to possess many health benefits, including inducing fat loss. Research on MCT oil health benefits, though, is very limited in scope and only shows moderate weight loss.
Despite the lack of proof showing MCT oil being very effective for weight loss, it is considered a beneficial fat for NOT putting on more body fat. And, this study shows that a weight loss diet that includes MCT oil leads to greater weight loss than one with olive oil.
Are there any downsides to MCT oil?
Private label MCT oils can be very expensive. You can get the MCT oil health benefits by eating more coconut oil and grass-fed dairy products. And if you limit LCT fats like olive oil, you are denying yourself the other benefits that come with it. Almost everybody is aware of the heart-healthy benefits of authentic virgin olive oil. If you limit your fat intake to MCT oil, you may look leaner, perhaps. But you’d be denying yourself the other benefits that certain LCT smart fats provide.
MCT oil health benefits conclusion
If you’re on a medically-supervised low-carb diet, such as ketogenic, it may make sense to give MCT oil a try. You can find MCT oil here. Because MCTs don’t have as many carbon atoms, your body can absorb them easier and use them for energy, rather than relying on carbs for energy. Just make sure you don’t waste your money by pouring MCT oil into a smoothie loaded with fructose. That fruit smoothie will likely render your MCT oil useless. And, you’d be wasting a lot of money.
You have to ask yourself if it’s really necessary for you to buy another supplement. Especially one that doesn’t have a lot of scientific data for weight loss to support it. Low-carb, low-starch whole foods are probably more satisfying and potentially more healthy overall compared to a protein smoothie with MCT oil squirted in.