what are the benefits of using mct oil?

For years, the "dangers" of fat have been shouted by the media and food companies to sell us things that are "low fat", to save our lives and make us healthy. The fact is, however, that "low fat" simply means "lots of added sugar", and sugar is the villain we should have been looking at all along.

Modern research indicates that natural fats like coconut oil, olive oil, beef tallow, butter are not just healthy but essential.

By filling our bodies with simple carbs and processed seed fats like canola or corn oil, we are creating an environment in our bodies for fat storage and chronic inflammation. Over time, persistently high blood sugar and inflammatory states are the direct cause of heart disease, diabetes, and early death.

That's at the extreme end of the spectrum, but more and more people are heading that way everyday. By reducing our sugar intake and properly using healthy oils, however, we can undo the damage that years or decades of western diets have done.

Learning about healthy fats, including MCT oil and its benefits, can put you on the path to regaining good health.

What is the Difference Between Fats?

Fats are found in nearly all living things. They make up the bulk of our cellular material, sheath our neurons in myelin so they work faster, and provide energy to our entire bodies.

The biggest fear-mongering tactic at the disposal of the media and junk science is the fact that we use the same word for the state of obesity as well as the macronutrient fat.

An image of ghee with spoon

For decades, the common line has been that since dietary fat is, well fat, that it stands to reason that people who are fat got that way by overeating the dietary stuff.

This simply isn't true and luckily that's coming out more and more through unbiased, peer-reviewed research.

Fat itself comes in 2 basic forms:

  • Saturated Fats - These are stable and solid at room temperature. Examples include butter, coconut oil, beef tallow, and palm oil
  • Unsaturated Fats - These are liquid at room temperature, and some examples include sesame seed oil, olive oil, and MCT oil

We've consistently considered saturated fat as the reason our arteries get clogged and why red meat is bad. Conversely, liquid fats like canola are considered to be heart-healthy, owing to both their unsaturated nature and their high omega-6 fat composition.

While omega-6 is good for your arteries, it's only good when in the right ratio to omega-3 fats.

Seed oils like canola are loaded with omega-6 and very little-to-no omega-3, which causes an unfavorable balance and inflames your arterial walls. This damage causes your body to fill the walls with calcium and that's how plaque forms.

Couple this with the fact that omega-6 is in pretty much all processed food, and you've got a diet that is bombarded with unhealthy fats.

There is a third type of fat known as trans fat, which is a Frankenstonian creation of food scientists trying to make unsaturated fats more shelf-stable. By adding some hydrogen to a normally unsaturated fat, they become partially saturated, which makes them last longer.

Most baked goods in the 1990s were made using trans fats, but they have since almost entirely been banned.

Trans fat is terrible because your body actually makes a tiny amount, and that's all it needs. More than this is incredibly difficult for your body to process and it ends up sticking around in your cardiovascular system and liver.

An image of 3 bottles of oil containing omega 6

It's the one fat you should never eat, but luckily it's getting less likely you will thanks to actual effort of real nutritionists and scientists getting it banned.

So What's the Deal With MCT Oil?

An image of MCT oil bottle with coconut

Fats come in short, medium, and long (and very long) chains. This references the number of carbons in the fat molecule and will affect how the body uses it. Short and medium chain triglycerides go through the "portal vein" into the liver for processing, and come out as energy - they either can't or have extreme difficulty being stored.

Long chain fatty acids are sent to the intestines for processing where they are shuttled around and can eventually be stored as fat. This doesn't necessarily make them bad, just not what we're interested in here.

When you ingest MCTs, which naturally occur in coconut oil, you are given an extreme burst of energy and focus. Coconut oil is about 50% bio available MCTs, so it's a good source if you're considering adding more to your diet.

MCT oil itself is basically an extracted form of MCTs derived from coconut oil that excludes the long-chain fatty acids and makes the MCTs far more concentrated. It's also unsaturated, which makes it easier to mix into smoothies or "Bulletproof"/keto coffee for an alternative breakfast with numerous health benefits.

What Are the Health Benefits of MCT oil?

There is constantly emerging new data that indicates the benefits of coconut oil and MCT oil, but let's focus on the ones that have verifiable, repeatable studies that back up these claims.

Quick Energy and Improved Focus

Your body is primed to absorb MCTs very quickly, since they only move through your liver once and aren't broken down. This means that your cells can access the energy immediately and if you're in ketosis, your body will convert them into usable ketones.

Because of the myriad of benefits of ketosis and the mere presence of ketones in your blood, this is a sort of added bonus to using MCT oil.

The brain, though it can't operate solely on ketones, does seem to enjoy their presence and functions better when you're including them in your diet. This translates to better focus and less mental "fog".

Reduces Lactic Acid Buildup, and Aids Exercise and Sports

If you're an athlete, the muscle fatigue you experience is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle fibers. MCT oil appears to suppress lactic acid accumulation, which makes for easier, longer workouts with less soreness afterwards.

Since it provides that quick burst of energy, professional bodybuilders and competitive Crossfitters have taken to ingesting MCT oil prior to working out to improve their performance.

In fact, you can buy little MCT oil single-serving packs to eat at the gym or wherever you exercise.

Beyond that, if you're exercising as part of a plan to lose weight, MCT oil can ramp up fat burning during workouts by mobilizing stored fat.

This is particularly interesting because the trial in question showed the majority of the fat burned appeared to come from subcutaneous belly fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat to have on your body.

An image of an athlete woman running in the racing track

MCT Oil is Heart-Protective

There are many factors which affect our heart's health - being overweight, chronic high blood sugar, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are all common, western problems.

An image of human heart

While MCT oil can't heal the effects of smoking, it can combat some of the other problems quite well.

MCT oil aids in weight loss as we said above, and has a much higher fat mobilization rate when compared to other fats, like olive or avocado.

Interestingly, participants in trials comparing the effects of the consumption of various fats who were given seed oils like canola actually gained bodyfat.

MCT oil is also helpful because it appears to be able to lower overall cholesterol, and lowers LDL (the bad cholesterol) even further. This is while it also increases HDL (the good cholesterol).

Having high HDL vs LDL is just as important to hearth health as is keeping overall cholesterol low, and possibly even moreso.

MCT oil helps with all three factors here.

Finally, if you're supplementing your diet with MCT oils instead of inflammatory seed oils, you're more likely to reduce overall inflammation in general.

There also appears to be a moderate anti-inflammatory effect from just consuming MCT oil, as consumption of MCTs is correlated with a reduction in C-reactive protein.

Aids Weight Loss and Reduces Diabetes Risk

Losing weight to look great is a fantastic goal, but losing weight to reverse easily preventable diseases like heart disease and diabetes is a much more powerful trophy to seek.

Consumption of MCT oil - really, most fats in general - suppresses appetite and makes your stomach empty slower. Feeling fuller longer makes it less likely you'll feel the need to eat, which will of course help you burn fat.

MCTs also mobilize body fat, as we said above. Ingesting them in the morning is a good way to ramp up fat burning all day while suppressing your appetite as well. This is a one-two combo that will dramatically improve your insulin resistance and reduce your bodyfat.

Because of the fact that MCTs slow digestion and gastric emptying, they're good at helping to stabilize blood sugar. By stabilizing blood sugar, you're less likely to get hungry as often, which will reduce your need for insulin and over time this will drive your body's insulin resistance down.

The reduction in insulin resistance is the primary way to combat and overcome type 2 diabetes. New research shows that diabetes isn't a lifetime disease as we once thought, and that the proper application of a low carb diet including MCT oil can better manage and even reverse it.

Neurological Benefits

The keto diet has been used for over a century to treat childhood epilepsy. Though scientists aren't certain exactly why ketones suppress seizure events, the fact is that they do and it's the best treatment protocol for most kids with epilepsy.

Since MCT oil converts to ketones quickly in a ketogenic body, it can add a layer of protection in kids with epilepsy. In fact, it was shown to perform better than an actual anti-seizure medication, but again, the keto diet has done that for decades.

There is ample evidence that lowering carbs and the application of MCTs has a profound effect on Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and other neuro-degenerative disorders.

MCTs are useful because they create the ketones to pass the blood-brain barrier and provide energy in the complicated and broken metabolism of an Alzheimer's patient, and it seems to slow the progression of Parkinsons and other diseases like it, likely due to the role fats play in neuronal health.

An image of human neurological system

Are There Side Effects to Taking MCT oil? 

There are very few what we would consider to be "side effects" to MCT oil. Because it is a fat, over consumption can lead to weight gain. This basically means that if you're ingesting another 20% over your total needed calories in the form of MCT, the weight loss effects will be blunted. 

This is especially true if you're not eating a low carb diet; your body will simply use the MCTs and store everything else.

MCT oil can be rough on the stomach if taken in too high of doses too quickly. Most people should aim for a teaspoon to start and moving up from there. Again, it's best to treat MCT oil as a dietary supplement, not a traditional food like you might with coconut oil.

How Can I Add Mct Oil to My Diet?

MCT oil used to be something you'd have to order online or get at a healthy food store, but it's becoming more common to see at everyday grocery stores. Because MCT oil is designed to be ingested directly, there are some various options to consider.

  • You could, if you were in a hurry, just drink it straight like medicine. This is probably the worst option, as it's going to taste probably neutral but the overall experience will be unpleasant most likely
  • The best choice for neutral MCT oil is to mix it into smoothies or coffee and drink it like that
  • You can also infuse it with various oils to add some flavor, like orange peels or mint leaves. That would make taking it directly much more palatable
  • It's not advisable in any way to cook with MCT oils - you want to get the full power of the fat and not lose it to cooking
  • Some companies make single-serving MCT oil packets that are often mixed with macadamia nut or almond butter. These are designed to provide a boost of energy, particularly during a workout

So Should I Take MCT Oil?

MCT oil provides a ton of benefits across the mental and physical spectrum, and since it's a food, there's no weird drug interactions or supplement side effects that you need to be overly concerned with. 

You should consider adding it to your diet if :

  • You suffer from a neurodegenerative disease, particularly if you're following a ketogenic diet to help treat it
  • You need to lose fat
  • You want more energy at the gym and better focus in your daily life
  • You want to replace unhealthy fats in your diet with whole, natural saturated and unsaturated fats
  • You're actively working to reduce your diabetes symptoms and working to reverse the disease 

It's easy to add into your diet, now that it's become more popular and companies are understanding the health benefits it provides. You honestly have nothing to lose from taking it since it's not expensive and unlike expensive, wacky supplements, the benefits MCT oil provides are scientifically backed.

Give it a try for a month and see how you feel; chances are you'll be adding it to your morning coffee or smoothies in no time.

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