What comes to mind when you see “MCT Oil” on a brand label? You may be thinking it has something to do with fats, energy, or is a magical weight loss serum of sorts.
Well, you are’re on the right path! As for the magical part, we will explore the validity of that. Anyhow, if you are familiar with the ketogenic diet, chances are you have seen this ingredient a time or two.
MCT is an acronym for medium chain triglycerides. MCT’s are supercharged fatty acids– a superfood, so to speak. It is an odorless, flavorless, clear liquid that is extracted from both coconut and palm oils.
MCT’s are very easily and quickly metabolized in the body to produce ketones, which are a wonderful fuel source for the body.
If you’re not entirely familiar with the keto diet, the whole idea of it is to alter the way the body converts food into energy through eating a low-carbohydrate diet.
It is all about burning fat instead of sugar(s) as a primary source of fuel for the body. On the keto diet, your body evolves into a fat-burning machine!
Now let’s explore how MCT oil can help you out on your keto journey and review some of its excellent health benefits.
What are the Health Benefits of MCT Oil?
Before diving into whether or not MCT oil supplements may assist one in maintaining ketosis, let’s consider the health benefits of MCT oil, of which are plentiful.
A sought-after benefit of MCT Oil consumption is that of easier weight control.
Studies in rodents and humans suggest that when diets consist of proportionate amounts of MCT’s, the MCT diets serve to be less obesogenic. In other words, the subjects are less prone to obesity1. Wow, perhaps this is a miracle serum?
Low carb or keto diets are indeed an effective way to drop some pounds in and of themselves; However, when MCT oil supplements are thrown in, you’re able to “feel full” for a longer period of time after eating.
This is due to an increase in peptide YY and leptin levels — two hormones that reduce appetite. MCT oil doesn’t cause weight loss, it simply helps.
Reduction in Seizure Prevalence
For those affected with seizures, it has been documented that MCT oil supplementation helps in decreasing the frequency of seizures from which one suffers.
According to a 2016 study of a forty-three year old man who was given a dose of four tablespoons of MCT oil a day, it was determined that the number of his seizures significantly dropped.
He had previously experimented with various anti-epileptic drugs, only to find they did not improve his symptoms.
After regular consumption of the MCT oil paired with a ketogenic diet, his seizure frequency went from a daily occurrence to about once every four days2. Thus, a keto diet with MCT oil supplementation does prove to be more effective than anti-epileptic drugs.
Increase in Ketone Levels
Diets rich in MCT oils contribute to an increase in ketone levels, which is one of the many benefits. When ketone levels are stable, plasma ketone levels are raised within the body. Ketone bodies are neuroprotective, meaning they protect the brain.
Ketones activate neurotrophic growth factors that protect, repair, and upgrade the function of the brain cells and neural networks. It is evident as to why MCT is considered a superfood.
Will MCT Oil Supplements Help Maintain Ketosis?
MCT alone won’t help you maintain ketosis, but it sure helps! With everything in life, it is matter-of-factly one piece to the puzzle.
Dosage of MCT Oil and Ketosis
The 2016 study aforementioned in regards to the epileptic patient proved that MCT oil does induce nutritional ketosis, with gastrointestinal side effects in humans that restrain the potential for its use to markedly increase ketones.
Upon increasing the dosage of MCT oil from two to five tablespoons per day, the patient suffered severe gastrointestinal distress. Similar observations resulted from a study on rats, who suffered from loose stools after MCT consumption.
So you should examine how much MCT oil you’re incorporating into your diet, as too much does prove to be harmful. Remember, too much of something is never a good thing. Moderation is key!
To maintain ketosis, fat intake must remain high so the body uses fat and ketones for its primary energy source. So, MCT oil is great to induce ketosis, however, the repercussions of having an excess of oil remain.
Once you’re already in nutritional ketosis, the trick is to figure out how to stay there. In addition to the ketones the body is making on its own, it’s able to make even more now with the MCT oil.
This makes it easy to stay in fat-burning mode and prolong ketosis. So, you don’t have to worry quite as much about how many carbohydrates or protein you may be craving.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can go to the all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch everyday. Again, out of moderation, a bright happiness emerges.
MCT oil is a tool to help maintain ketosis, but it is not to be single-handedly relied upon. Ketosis is able to manifest in the body from a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet.
If one neglects even one aspect of this, ketosis could be thrown off. The sum of the parts is the whole, right?
MCT Supplement Options and Their Pros/ Cons
- Easy on the digestive tract
- Easily transportable
- Gives a nice creamy texture to drinks
- Could contain hidden fillers
- If taken on an empty stomach, this could prompt nausea or vomiting
- Difficult to carry around
- Give beverages an oily texture
- The majority of MCT research has been done on it’ liquid form
Related: MCT Oil Vs. Powder: Which is Better, What is The Difference (& How to Choose)
 McCarty MF., DiNicolantonio JJ. (2016). Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity. Open. Heart. 27 July.
 Shannon L. Kesl., Angela M. Poff., Nathan P. Ward., Tina N. Fiorelli., Csilla Ari., Ashley J. Van Putten., Jacob W Sherwood., Patrick Arnold., Dominic P D’Agostino., Effects of exogenous ketone supplementation on blood ketone, glucose, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels in Sprague–Dawley rats. (2016). Nutr. Metab. (Lond.) 4 February.