What are the benefits of MCT oil?
Author: Victoria Abraham @victoria_abraham_nutritionist Date Posted:11 February 2019
What is MCT oil and its benefits? How can MCT oil help you to lose weight? What is the keto diet and do you have to be keto to get the benefits of MCT oil?
What is Jimalie MCT oil?
- Dietary fat with fatty acids chains that are between 6-12 carbon chains in length derived from 100% sustainable coconut oil from the Philippines.
- MCT are easier to digest compared to other fats as they transported directly to the liver providing immediate fuel, in the form of ketone bodies.
Medium chain triglycerides, or MCT, are dietary triglycerides with fatty acids chains that are 6–12 carbon atoms in length extracted from coconut oil. MCT have a smaller molecular weight than long-chain triglycerides (LCT). During digestion, MCT are converted to medium-chain fatty acids and transported directly in the portal venous system to the liver where they are preferentially converted into bio-available ketone bodies, unlike LCT that require the actions of bile to be transported via the lymphatic system to the bloodstream where the free fatty acids are absorbed by the cells of the body and are either broken down for energy or stored as fat.
So what is the Keto diet and ketosis?
- The keto diet is a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet.
- Ketosis occurs when the body does not have enough glucose, from carbohydrates, for fuel and uses stored fat instead by converting stored fat to ketone bodies to use as energy.
- Ketone bodies become the main source of fuel and reduce the stimulus for fat and glucose storage.
The ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a diet that primarily consists of high-fats, moderate-proteins, and very-low-carbohydrates. The dietary macronutrients are divided into approximately 55% to 60% fat, 30% to 35% protein and 5% to 10% carbohydrates. Based on an 8700kj per day diet, this would constitute to approximately 20-50g of carbohydrates per day.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy production and when the body is starved of carbohydrates, or glucose, and glycogen stores are depleted, the body goes through metabolic changes. This is known as 'Ketogenesis' that begins in order to provide an alternate source of energy in the form of ketone bodies and this is referred to as “nutritional ketosis”. Ketone bodies replace glucose as a primary source of energy and being in ketosis reduces the stimulus for fat and glucose storage as well as turning stored fat into ketone bodies to use as fuel for your cells.
The keto diet was introduced in the 1920s as a medical intervention for paediatric epilepsy until medications were established and it has again gained popularity for its effectiveness in rapid weight loss. Recent studies also show its positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Can I still get the benefits of MCT oil without being on a keto diet?
- MCT oil digests easily, is absorbed quickly and is distinctively burned as fuel rather than being stored as fat.
- Even when one is not on a ketogenic diet, MCT increase ketone body production to be used as immediate fuel for the body and brain.
You do not have to be on a ketogenic diet, or in ketosis to benefit from this healthy fat. Diets that are not the “classic” ketogenic diet and receive fewer daily calories from fats compared to high-fat diets, can induce nutritional ketosis if they include a high proportion of MCT oil in their diet.
MCT do not require the actions of bile, and is not absorbed into the lymphatic system. Instead, MCT are diffused directly into the hepatic portal vein and preferentially converted into bio-available ketone bodies in the liver.
MCT can increase beta-hydroxybutyrate, a ketone body produced by the liver when in ketosis, when calorically dose-matched to either LCT or carbohydrates in single feeding and other non-ketogenic diet studies. In other words, equal caloric intake of MCT with either LCT or carbohydrates will still increase ketone body production in the body.
How do you use MCT oil?
The best and most popular ways to use MCT oil are to:
- Add it in your smoothies
- Mix with lemon, or a good quality vinegar, as a salad dressing
- Add it to your coffee or tea (also known as bulletproof coffee)
- Add it to your morning oats
- Or straight off the spoon! It is recommended to start with one teaspoon a day as large amounts could cause gastric upset. Start slow and increase your dose to your tolerance.
Will MCT oil help me lose weight?
- MCT reduces hunger and increases the feeling of fullness for longer.
- MCT does not get stored as fat in tissues due to its rapid metabolism.
MCT oil may counteract fat deposition in adipocytes by increasing thermogenesis and satiety.
Thermogenesis is the process of heat production, when body burns more calories, it generates more heat and the rapid metabolism of MCT reduces their opportunity of adipose tissue uptake.
As mentioned, MCT have also been shown to influence food intake and satiety due to increased production of ketones that suppress hunger.
MCT also has beneficial effects on the glucose/insulin response.
Will MCT enhance cognitive function?
- MCT can enhance cognitive function as it is metabolised quickly to produce ketone bodies that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Ketone bodies, produced by MCT, are anti-inflammatory and can decrease free radical damage.
Ketone bodies produced by the ingestion of MCT do not require insulin or glucose to cross the blood-brain barrier. That is why they are able to provide an alternative source of energy to power brain cells. In fact, ketone bodies are appropriately called “super fuel” as it yields more ATP in comparison to glucose. ATP, short for adenosine triphosphate, is found in every cell of the body and is needed to store and supply the cell with energy to function.
Ketone bodies also decrease free radical damage and enhance antioxidant capacity.
Studies show that for many patients with Alzheimer’s disease, or other neuro-degenerative conditions, insulin resistance has cut off glucose to the brain and because ketone bodies can cross the blood-brain barrier, ketone bodies produced from burning fat, or consuming MCT oil, can provide energy to a glucose-starved brain.
Clegg, M. (2010). Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance. International Journal Of Food Sciences And Nutrition, 61(7), 653-679. doi: 10.3109/09637481003702114
Clegg, M. (2017). They say coconut oil can aid weight loss, but can it really?. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 71(10), 1139-1143. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2017.86
Harvey, C., Schofield, G. M., & Williden, M. (2018). The use of nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with keto-induction: a narrative review. PeerJ, 6, e4488. doi:10.7717/peerj.4488
Masood W, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2018 May 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/
Mumme, K., & Stonehouse, W. (2015). Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(2), 249–263. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.10.022
Rial, S. A., Karelis, A. D., Bergeron, K. F., & Mounier, C. (2016). Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients, 8(5), 281. doi:10.3390/nu8050281
Stoker, H. (2013). General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Pub Co.
About the Author: Victoria graduated at the Australian College of Natural Therapies in Sydney and has a Bachelor of Business from the Australian Catholic University. Victoria is the co-owner of Jimalie Coconut Products. More information about her on her website www.centralcoastnutritionist.com.au