MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. Most MCT oil are refined coconut or palm oils where the Long Chain components are removed.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. You may also see them called MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids). They’re “medium” because they only have 6-10 carbon atoms.
MCTs are a form of saturated fatty acids and consist of four different types based on their carbon length. MCTs are the ideal source of energy because they don’t rely on other enzymes for absorption in your body.
The oil is made from pure MCTs extracted from whole foods, specifically coconut and palm oil. It’s not coconut oil, but a byproduct of it.
The Different Types of MCTs
MCTs are known for being quickly absorbed by your body and metabolized into energy in the liver. They’re the most efficient saturated fats in terms of energy production.
They create ketones, an energy molecule. Ketones are an amazing source of energy for your body in comparison to glucose because they produce far less molecules that react with other molecules when they are metabolized.
There are the four MCTs found in food:
- Caproic Acid (six carbons)
- Caprylic Acid (eight carbons)
- Capric Acid (10 carbons)
- Lauric Acid (12 carbons)
#1 CAPROIC ACID (C6)
If you’re wondering why your MCT oil tastes a bit off or creates a tingle in our throat, it most likely has too much caproic acid (C6) in it.
While it doesn’t taste the greatest, there’s usually not enough of it in coconut oil or MCT oil to taste it. It converts quickly to ketones. C6 makes up about 1% of the total MCTs in coconut oil.
#2 CAPRYLIC ACID (C8)
Caprylic acid makes up 12% of the MCTs in of coconut oil.
This type of MCT helps you maintain a healthy gut thanks to its strong anti-microbial properties. This is the most efficient fatty acid after C6 because it converts rapidly into ketones in your liver.
#3 CAPRIC ACID (C10)
Like C8, C10 turns into ketones quickly in the liver. It’s a little bit slower than C8 during the ATP process, and makes up 10% of MCTs in coconut oil.
#4 LAURIC ACID (C12)
Lauric acid makes up 77% of MCTs in coconut oil. Like its fellow MCTs, lauric acid has antimicrobial properties (kills microorganisms or stops their growth). However, unlike the last two mentioned, lauric acid has a slower metabolization process.
Some people debate the fact that lauric acid should even be considered a MCT due to it’s larger size and longer time to metabolize. Lauric acid is the most inefficient of all the MCTs because it can’t be turned into energy as quickly as the others. Because of this, you won’t find it in a high-quality MCT oil.
The shorter the carbon chain, the more efficiently the MCT will be turned into ketones. Fatty acids with longer carbon atoms are metabolized much slower.
Here’s how LCTs compare to MCTs:
Coconut Oil vs. MCT Oil
The main difference between MCT oil and coconut oil is their MCT content.
Coconut oil is 55% MCTs, while MCT oil is made 100% of MCTs.
Furthermore, coconut oil contains all 4 medium-chain fatty acids, including large quantities of lauric acid, the least efficient MCT. MCT oil only uses the two most efficient MCTs for energy: caprylic and capric acid.
MCT oil is actually a byproduct of coconut oil. You could think of MCT oil as the fast lane to getting the most efficient fats from coconut oil.
Here’s how both compare:
Coconut oil and MCT oil have different benefits.
If you’re looking to stay healthy and simply add more MTCs to your diet, coconut oil is enough.
However, if you’re looking to gain all the advantages of pure MCTs and fuel your body with ketones, MCT oil is the best choice.
Characteristics Of MCT Oil
A high-quality MCT oil will have some distinct features:
- Tasteless: MCT oil doesn’t have a taste or smell because it’s removed during the “bleaching and deodorizing” phase.
- Liquid at room temperature: The final product has a lower smoking point than coconut oil, so it will be liquid at room temperature.
- Highly absorbable: A quality MCT oil will quickly turn into energy. Generic MCT oils could be blended with lauric acid or other fats to cut costs, making your supplementation ineffective, so always know what you’re buying by reading labels.
- Highly soluble: The small size of the carbon molecules in MCT oil increases its solubility in water and biological fluids like blood.
Why MCT Oil Is The Ultimate Energy Source
When your body uses ketones as its main source of fuel instead of glucose (from carbs), it can enter and remain in a state of ketosis.
MCT oil is powerful because it helps make ketones readily available for your body to use, making ketosis easy to achieve and maintain.
Unlike almost all other foods, the two MCTs used in MCT oil are swiftly absorbed and metabolized as energy in your body, making them the perfect fuel.
Because they’re efficiently burned, saturated fats and MCT oil in particular, have two positive effects on weight:
- Lower propensity to be stored as body fat. MCTs are rapidly metabolized and used for energy.
- Higher calorie burn. MCTs have a thermogenic effect (burning calories to create heat). This fat-burning process results in a metabolism boost.
There are 4 reasons why MCT oil can be burned as fuel so effectively:
- MCTs reach your liver quickly. They don’t have to go through peripheral tissues first, like LCTs do.
- MCTs don’t have to be broken down into smaller molecules. Unlike long-chain fats, the body can absorb MCTs more efficiently due to the size of their carbon bonds.
- MCTs cross the double membrane of the mitochondria quickly (the energy “factory” of the cell).
- MCTs don’t need the presence of an enzyme called carnitine to be converted to energy, like LCTs do.
In conclusion, MCTs can be quickly converted into ketones because they need less steps to be metabolized in your cells. MCT oil provides the most effective MCTs that turn into energy faster.
The Benefits of MCTs
There are numerous benefits of MCTs — ranging from weight management and gut health to mental and physical advantages.
More of these benefits include:
- Maintain healthy weight loss
- Support a healthy gut
- Improve cognitive health
- Improve heart health
- Prevent risk of diabetes
- Increase exercise performance