MCT oil is quickly becoming a cupboard essential for health-conscious Brits, but does it stand up to all the hype?
Quick answer: Yes.
MCT oil has a number of health benefits, helping to provide energy and a number of nutrients. Below, we explain what MCT oil is, how to choose a high-quality MCT oil and why you should include it in your diet.
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) are a subclass of saturated fats, which have a different chemical structure than other saturated fats, thereby behaving differently in the body. They are less prevalent in foods than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and are metabolised differently.
Generally, MCT oil is a clear oil that is runny and liquid at room temperature (unlike coconut oil). Pure MCT oil is unflavoured and has a neutral smell.
How Is MCT Oil Made?
MCT oil is extracted from a natural food source, such as coconut or palm oil. During production, the MCTs are isolated from other fats using a process called ‘fractionation’.
Just be careful to understand how your MCT oil has been extracted. As with vegetable oils, some MCT oils are extracted using chemical hexanes or rapeseed oil. Our Hunter & Gather Organic 100% Coconut MCT Oil is triple steam distilled rather than using harsh chemical extraction methods.
Why Should I Take MCT Oil and Not Coconut Oil?
Since MCTs are found naturally in coconuts, why not simply take coconut oil?
The answer comes down to fatty acid composition. Coconut oil is extracted from coconut ‘copra’, the white flesh known as coconut meat. Unfortunately, only 55% of coconut meat is made of MCTs, with the rest made from LCTs and saturated facts. Therefore, pure MCT oil is a more concentrated source, made from 100% MCTs.
What Are the Different Types of MCTs?
There are four main types of MCTs, classified by how many carbon atoms they have in their chemical structure (6, 8, 10 or 12). The four different types of MCTs are:
- C6: Caproic acid (six carbon atoms)
- C8: Caprylic acid (eight carbon atoms)
- C10: Capric acid (10 carbon atoms)
- C12: Lauric acid (12 carbon atoms)
Why is this important?
Different types of MCTs will react differently in the body. For example, only C6, C8 and C10 MCTs go straight to the liver to be broken down for ketone production (important for the keto diet). C6 (caproic acid) can cause stomach upset or a foul aftertaste when consumed in its oil form. C12 (lauric acid) acts more like a long-chain fatty acid and is digested in the stomach, making it a less efficient source of energy. When looking for the best MCTs, look for those made with C10 or C8 MCT oil.
What Are the Health Benefits of MCT Oil?
MCT oil is metabolised differently than other fats. While long-chain triglycerides and other saturated fats are metabolised in the stomach, MCTs are immediately metabolised in the liver after consumption. This allows MCTs to be quickly transformed into ketone bodies, then released into the bloodstream — creating an efficient, bioavailable source of energy.
Energy production is just one benefit of MCTs. MCTs can also:
- Boost weight loss: The fats in MCTs are immediately used for energy, rather than stored away as body fat. In addition, using fats for energy (rather than glucose) encourages fat oxidation helps you metabolise dietary fat more quickly. Lastly, eating fat can help suppress your appetite, further encouraging weight loss .
- Balance cholesterol levels: MCTs have been shown to raise HDL cholesterol while lowering levels of LDL cholesterol. This creates a favourable balance of cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke .
- Lower blood pressure: Consuming MCT oil can widen blood vessels, thereby reducing inflammation in the arteries and lowering blood pressure. This, in turn, decreases your risk of developing kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and stroke .
- Support gut health: MCTs work in your digestive tract to lower levels of harmful bacteria, while preserving good bacteria. This supports overall gut health, which plays a vital role in boosting your immune system and mental well-being .
- Improve cognition: Your brain is made up of fatty acids — therefore, getting healthy fats from your diet can help keep your brian healthy. MCTs are broken down to produce ketones, which can pass through the blood-brain barrier and fuel your brain .
MCT Oil FAQ: All the Details on MCT Oil
Now that you understand what MCT oil is, how it’s made and its various health benefits, it’s time to dive into the nitty gritty details of MCTs. Below, we share popular reader questions from the Hunter & Gather community:
Is MCT Oil Keto-Friendly?
Absolutely. MCT oil is 100% natural, carb-free, grain-free and high in fats, making it perfectly suitable for a low-carb or ketogenic diet. In addition, MCTs can help your body boost ketone production, helping you enter ketosis (the primary goal of the keto diet). You can consume MCT oil throughout the day, or take it as a quick energy source before your workouts.
Can MCT Oil Be Used for Cooking?
MCT oil has a relatively low smoke point of 170 degree celsius, meaning it burns more easily than other oils. Therefore, we do not recommend cooking with it.
Instead, we prefer to use MCT oil post-cooking. Since MCT oil is flavourless and odourless, we enjoy drizzling it on our salads or main dishes, or adding it to bulletproof coffee, tea, smoothies or post-workout shakes.
When Should I Take MCT Oil?
There’s no set rule as to when you should take MCT oil. Simply mix it in with your regular meals or drinks, and you will be fine.
If you want to use MCT oil as a pre-workout, consume a dose (1 tablespoon) of MCTs 30 minutes prior to your workouts.
Does MCT Oil Cause Weight Gain?
Conventional healthcare professionals might tell you to fear fat. However, new research shows that a high-fat diet comes with amazing health benefits — including weight management.
Keto and paleo health communities understand that fat is an essential nutrient that’s needed by almost every cell in your body. In fact, new research shows that a high-fat diet can actually help you lose body weight . However, when consuming fats you should choose a high-quality source — like 100% pure MCT oil. In addition, since MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of healthy fats, you only need to consume a tablespoon (or roughly 15 milliliters) per day.
What Is the Difference Between MCT Oil and MCT Powder?
Powdered MCTs are produced by spraying MCT oil into a carrier, such as maltodextrin, tapioca flour, corn flour or soy lecithin. These carriers are rarely disclosed in the ingredients list, even though they may contain added carbohydrates or allergens. Depending on your allergies or dietary preferences, this may not be an appropriate choice for your lifestyle. Therefore, we encourage you to contact the manufacturer directly to understand what carriers are included in their products.
Which MCT Oil Is Best?
MCT oil is sourced from a number of whole foods. Sourcing impacts the fatty acid composition and overall nutritional profile of the MCTs.
To choose the best MCT oil on the market, look for these things:
- Coconut derived: Many MCTs are sourced from a blend of coconut oil, palm kernel oil or rapeseed oil — the latter two of which are inflammatory and bad for the environment. Always look for MCTs harvested from coconuts, which are the most bioavailable form of MCTs.
- Palm-oil-free: The palm oil industry is unsustainable, wreaking havoc on the environment and wildlife. Therefore, use a MCT oil that isn't derived from palm oil.
- Natural: MCTs are found naturally in foods — therefore, it’s completely unnecessary to include unnatural or synthetic ingredients. Try to avoid products that use bulkers, fillers or flow agents.
- Pesticide-free: Try to avoid MCT oils that were produced using pesticides, which can contain harmful GMOs.
- Contains high amounts of C8 and C10s: Search for MCT oil that contains C8 or C10, avoiding those made with C6 or C12 fatty acids.
- In liquid form: Choose a MCT supplement in liquid form. Avoid powders as they can contain unwanted fillers that can contain gluten or grain.
MCT Oil Side Effects: Does MCT Oil Cause Stomach Pain?
While rare, some individuals experience stomach pain when first taking MCT oil. To remedy this, we recommend starting with just 5 milliliters per day (roughly one teaspoon), and gradually work your way up to a full 15 milliliter serving.
In addition, be sure to select an MCT oil made from C8 and C10 fatty acids. C6 MCTs have been known to cause stomach pains and discomfort. Lastly, some companies process MCTs with harsh hexane chemicals, which can cause digestive distress. To negate this, select a product that is steam distilled in production.
Choose a High-Quality MCT Oil for Various Benefits
MCT oil is a beneficial fat derived from coconuts. When shopping for MCT oil, it’s important to know what to look for and what to avoid.
Hunter & Gather MCT oil is a premium, triple steam distilled MCT oil made exclusively from 100% sustainably sourced organic coconuts. Hunter & Gather MCT Oil can naturally increase ketone production, support brain health and provide a boost of energy. Our MCT is bottled in the UK into glass bottles and we are an English company based in the Southeast.
Our oil is lab-tested to ensure the fatty acid profile of each batch contains a high ratio of C8 and 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. Find out more about Hunter & Gather Premium MCT oil and grab yours here.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.