Key facts about Medium Chain Triglycerides and why everyone is adding it to bulletproof coffee.
MCT oil is fast becoming a cupboard essential for us health-conscious Brits, but is it worth all the hype?
Yes! MCT oil is Mother Nature’s answer to staying energised and optimising your health.
There are so many amazing benefits to including MCT oil daily as part of your healthy lifestyle. To help you understand the how’s and why’s we created this post to answer all your questions and help you to choose the best MCT oil for you. Read on to discover everything you need to know about MCT oil!
What is MCT Oil?
MCT stands for ‘Medium-Chain Triglyceride’ a type of fat found naturally in foods such as coconuts, palm oil and some dairy products.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (or MCTs to you and me) are a sub-class of saturated fats, which have a different chemical structure to other saturated fats and so behave differently in the body. They are harder to come by in foods than Long Chain Triglycerides (LCT) and are also metabolised differently.
In short, not all fats (nor saturated fats) are created equal; and in the case of MCTs, they have been shown to be pretty special! To find out more about the different kinds of dietary fat and why the specific type of fat matters, check out our blog post which explains all.
Generally, MCT oil is a clear oil that is runny and liquid at room temperature (unlike coconut oil). It should be unflavoured and have a neutral smell.
What Are the Different Types of MCTs?
There are four main types of MCTs and they are classified by how many carbon atoms they have in their chemical structure (6, 8, 10 or 12) – that’s what makes them different from each other and from other fats too. The four different types of MCTs are:
- C6: Caproic Acid
- C8: Caprylic Acid
- C10: Capric Acid
- C12: Lauric Acid
Why is this important? Well, depending on where it is sourced from, MCT oil can differ greatly in its fatty acid composition and this drastically impacts the finished product and the effect it has on the body.
Only C6, C8 and C10 MCTs go straight to the liver to be broken down for ketone production (important for the keto diet), C12 (Lauric acid) acts more like a long-chain fatty acid and is digested in the stomach and so provides a less efficient source of energy.
Studies have found that C8 and C10 fatty acids are the most beneficial MCTs and we recommend to avoid an MCT oil that contains a higher ratio of C6 or C12 fatty acids.
C6 (Caproic Acid) has an almost goat-like or farmyard smell and can cause stomach upset or a harsh taste at the back of the mouth if consumed in it's oil form. C8 and C10 are neutral in smell and many find that these two MCT's are easier to utilise as part of a daily routine.
C12 (Lauric Acid) is found in traditional coconut oil and is what makes the coconut oil hard at room temperature. C12 is often utilised in the cosmetic industry in soaps and it has a soapy smell and white powder consistency. Although Lauric acid has benefits such as antimicrobial properties, when looking for an MCT oil, you want as low a C12 content as possible.
A coconut MCT oil should be unflavoured and if an MCT oil has a high C6 content you may also find the oil still has a distinct coconut/farmyard odour or flavour and can be harsh on the stomach and back of the throat.
How is MCT Oil Made?
MCT oil is extracted from a natural food source, in most cases coconut or palm oil, and the MCTs are isolated from other fats using a process called ‘fractionation.’ Put simply, MCTs are naturally occurring rather than ‘made’ and so it’s just a case of extracting them from their natural food source!
Just be careful to understand how your MCT oil has been extracted. As with vegetable oils, some MCT oils are extracted using chemical hexanes and/or rapeseed oil. Our Hunter & Gather coconut MCT oil is triple steam distilled rather than using harsh chemical extraction methods.
How Does MCT Oil Work?
What makes MCT oil a sought-after fat is how it is metabolised compared with other dietary fats. Let’s take a look:
- Long Chain Triglycerides and other saturated fats are metabolised in the stomach, which means the process of turning them into energy is slow and inefficient
- In comparison, MCTs are metabolised immediately in the liver and are turned almost instantly into ketones
- Once ketones are released from the liver, they enter the bloodstream to provide a super-efficient and bioavailable form of energy
It’s this quick turn-around from dietary intake to energy provision that make MCTs a superior fat and is attributable to most of the amazing benefits of MCTs!
What are the Benefits?
MCTs are known for being the most efficient fats in terms of energy production, but they also have some other pretty amazing benefits. Here are just some ways MCT oil works its magic in the body:
- Increases Performance – MCT oil provides fast, efficient and bioavailable energy. Unlike longer chain fatty acids, MCTs are metabolised quickly in the liver and are almost instantly turned into ketones for a fast and efficient source of energy. This has been shown to increase stamina and enhance exercise performance.
- Promotes Weight Loss – The fats found in MCTs are used for energy, rather than being stored as fat on the body. Getting your energy from fats rather than carbs encourages fat oxidation, meaning you metabolise your dietary fat quicker. MCTs may also have some effect on the hormones which modulate appetite – for a triple whammy fat loss impact!
- Balance Cholesterol Levels - MCTs have been shown to work in synergy to raise levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol and lower levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol. This results in a favourable balance of good cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Lower Blood Pressure - Consuming MCT oil has been shown to widen blood vessels and reduce inflammation in arteries, which together help to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart and kidney disease, as well as Dementia and Stroke – so the more we can do to bring it down, the better!
- Support Gut Health – MCTs work in the gut to lower levels of harmful bacteria without impacting on ‘good’ bacteria. This supports overall gut health and so helps to boost the immune system and support mental wellbeing (because of the gut-brain connection).
- Improve Cognition – A large proportion of the brain is made up of fatty acids, so getting these from our diet helps to replenish stores and keep our brain healthy. MCTs are broken down to produce ketones, which can uniquely pass through the blood-brain barrier and provide fuel for the brain.
Phew! That’s not all either, you can learn more about the amazing benefits of MCT Oil in our blog post 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using MCT Oil.
Is it Keto Friendly?
Yes, yes and YES! MCT Oil is your Keto best friend; it is 100% natural, carb-free, grain-free and high fat – in fact it’s 100% fat! That ticks pretty much every box for the Keto diet.
The ultimate aim of a Keto lifestyle is to achieve ketosis, in which ketones are produced in the liver. This is exactly what happens when MCTs are consumed, so adding MCT oil to your daily routine is a convenient and reliable way to encourage and stay in ketosis and to boost your metabolism.
MCT oil is a great addition to a Keto lifestyle as it is a concentrated source of healthy fats which can be used as a supplement to top up your fat intake throughout the day and provide a fast and natural energy source pre-workout.
Why should I take MCT Oil and Not just Coconut Oil?
MCT oil is found naturally in coconuts, so what's the difference between MCT Oil and Coconut Oil? It all comes down to that crucial fatty acid composition.
Coconut oil is extracted directly from coconut ‘copra’, the white fleshy stuff we know as coconut meat or flesh. So, it provides fatty acids as they come in coconuts – which is roughly only 55% MCTs. The rest of the fats found in coconut oil are Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs) and saturated fats.
MCT is a by-product of coconut oil, which is fractionated to separate the MCTs from other fats. Therefore, MCT oil is a concentrated source and comprises of 100% MCTs rather than 55% as you’d find in coconut oil. It’s a sort of fast track to getting the MCTs you want from coconut oil without also obtaining the longer chain fats.
Can MCT Oil Be Used for Cooking?
MCT oil has a relatively low smoke point of 170C (it burns easily compared with other oils) which means we do not recommend cooking it. However, you can combine MCT oil with other oils such as coconut or avocado oil (which has a smoke point of 250C) to use for cooking and to boost your MCT intake at the same time.
We personally prefer to use MCT oil post-cooking, or to drizzle on foods or to add to our coffee, tea, shakes or smoothies.
You can find loads of recipes using the oil here.
Does MCT Oil Cause Weight Gain?
Conventional wisdom would have us fearing fat but if you’re following a Keto or Paleo lifestyle then chances are, you’re already switched on to the benefits of a high-fat diet!
Fat is an essential nutrient that’s needed in almost every cell in the body. Certain kinds of fat have some pretty amazing health benefits so it’s definitely not a good idea to try and eliminate all fat from the diet. In fact, incorporate the right kinds of fat and you’ll find that they can help to optimise your health and promote weight loss.
There’s heaps of evidence to show that it can actually help you to lose weight too. Remember, because MCT oil is a concentrated and potent source of healthy fats, you only need a few tablespoons per day - we recommend up to 15ml per day.
Which MCT Oil is Best?MCT oil can be sourced from a number of different whole foods and where it comes from affects the ratio of fatty acids it contains, and so its overall nutritional profile.
Does this matter? Yes! Where your MCT oil comes from determines the composition of the fatty acids it contains (see section above on different fats in MCT oil).
Most MCT oils which aren't 100% coconut-derived (the gold standard due to its preferential fatty acid composition) are a mixture of MCTs from different sources. This can include things like inflammatory rapeseed oil, palm oil which is bad for the environment and dairy-derived MCTs which aren't as high in the MCTs you'd like.
Here’s some things to look out for when choosing the best MCT oil:
- Coconut Derived – You can get MCTs from palm oil and even some dairy foods, but coconuts provide them in the most bioavailable form and with a preferential ratio of fatty acids
- Palm Oil Free – The non-sustainable palm oil industry has recently been in the media for it's impact on the environment and wildlife, MCTs or no MCTs, we don’t think it’s right to endorse non-sustainable palm oil in any way, so be sure to choose an MCT oil that does not use palm from unsustainable sources.
- Natural – MCTs are found naturally in foods so it’s wholly unnecessary for anything unnatural and synthetic to be added, good MCT oils will be 100% natural and free from bulkers, fillers or flow agents
- Pesticide-Free – Our MCT oil is carefully tested to ensure there are no pesticides.
- Know Your Fatty Acid Ratios – Whichever MCT oil you opt for, most will tell you the percentage of individual MCTs they contain; remember, you’re looking for a high ratio of C8 and C10 compared with C6 and C12 fatty acids
How to Use MCT Oil
A great quality MCT oil chosen using the principles above will be neutral in taste and aroma, meaning it can easily be added to most food and drinks. We recommend taking 1tbsp (15ml) as desired throughout the day, here’s some ideas for how to use MCT oil:
- Salad Dressings
- Bulletproof Coffee
- Any Cold Drinks
OR…. Take straight from the spoon as a supplementary MCT quick fix!
When should I take it?
There’s no hard and fast rule as to when you should take MCT oil, so incorporating it into your usual meals and drinks is fine.
If you are planning a workout, it’s a good idea to have a dose of MCTs around 30 minutes pre-workout to reap the benefits of increased stamina and improved exercise performance!
What Is the Difference Between MCT Oil and MCT Powder?
MCT oil is liquid and can be poured into coffee, smoothies, salads or shakes. MCT powder, is in a dry powder format that can be added to hot liquids and is easy to stir into drinks.
To create a powdered form of MCT oil, MCT oil is spray-dried onto a carrier - such as maltodextrin, tapioca flour, corn or soy lecithin. Which depending on your allergies or lifestyle requirements may impact your choice.
It is important to understand which carrier is used as this could impact the carbohydrate levels of the product. Very Annoyingly! - These carriers themselves are rarely disclosed on the ingredients list - so be sure to ask if you are unsure! If the ingredients list of an MCT powder states "MCT OIl" as the only ingredient, be sure to ask more information from the company directly.
MCT oil is in our opinion the purest source of medium-chain fats as there does not need to be a carrier.
Will MCT Oil Make Me Have Diarrhoea? Or Stomach Pains?
When first starting to take MCT oil, we recommend starting with 5ml per day and increase up to 15 ml gradually to help your body to adapt to increased fat intake.
We only utilise C8 and C10 fatty acids in our MCT oil. C6 MCT (Caproic acid) is also present in coconut oil, however it has been noted that C6 can cause an unpleasant taste and stomach pains/discomfort. Choose an MCT oil that is either pure C8 or a C8 and C10 blend can help to avoid this.
Many companies utilise MCT oil that has come as a by-product from the beauty industry with harsh hexane chemicals to strip out the C12 (Lauric Acid). MCT oils that have been processed with chemicals can cause stomach upset. Be sure to choose an MCT oil that is steam distilled - if the company cannot tell you how the MCT oil is made, do not take it and find another that can!
Hunter & Gather 100% Coconut Derived MCT Oil
Our MCT oil is a premium, triple steam distilled MCT Oil made exclusively from 100% sustainably sourced organic coconuts. Hunter & Gather MCT Oil is perfect for those seeking a healthy fat source to naturally increase their ketone production, support brain health and energy. Our MCT is bottled in the UK into glass bottles and we are an English company based in the South East.
Our oil is lab-tested to ensure the fatty acid profile of each batch is within the range we specify – with a high ratio of C8 & C10 fatty acids. We also test to ensure that no heavy metals or other contaminants are present. This means that our MCT oil is as transparent as our 100% recyclable glass bottles!
- Keto, Paleo, LCHF and Banting Lifestyle Friendly
- 100% Organic Coconut Derived – NO palm oil
- Promotes Fat Oxidation
- Increases Performance
- High in Caprylic and Capric Acid
- Neutral Taste and Aroma
- Hexane-Free and No Solvents
Find out more about Hunter & Gather Premium MCT oil and grab yours here!