Nowadays, wellness supplements, powders, tinctures, and food and beverage items are as widespread as ever. As a result, we’ve become seemingly inundated with new ingredients and formulas to research to understand better what may work for us on our personal wellness journeys and become a nécessité in our routines. MCT oil, a fatty acid that’s gained popularity over the last few years, lies among the mix.
What is MCT oil?
MCT oil supplements are made up of medium-chain triglycerides, which are made up of fatty acids that contain somewhere between 6 and 12 carbon molecules. In our day-to-day diets, we tend to consume foods that are high in long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which will have more than 12 carbon molecules. These foods range from nuts and seeds to avocado, fish, and meats. The list of MCT foods is relatively short, including cow and goat milk, palm kernel oil, coconut milk, meat, and dried coconut.
MCT oil thus tends to be derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. This type of oil does not have any color, odor, or flavor and, at room temperature, is in a liquid state, allowing it to be added to our drinks or food. When consumed and absorbed so our body can use the oil, MCTs follow a much smoother and simpler process than a majority of the fatty acids. Rather than requiring help from bile and enzymes from our pancreas to digest them and end up in our liver, MCTs skip the in-between steps of being absorbed into our gastrointestinal tract through our lymphatic system and bloodstream and are instead transported right to the liver.
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What are the benefits of MCT oil?
In the last few years, coconut oil’s rising popularity and research on the ingredient and a focus on a ketogenic diet have sparked further interest in MCT oil. However, when it comes to potential health benefits for individuals, two studies on MCT oil have shown that it may help with weight loss.
One study showed that MCT oil could help promote the release of hormones that make us feel full, while the second study proposed that it could help promote weight loss. However, additional research would need to be conducted to examine its effectiveness and recommended amount for maintaining a healthy weight. One study concluded that MCT can be incorporated into your weight loss routines without negatively impacting metabolic risk factors, while another showed that consuming MCT oil rather than olive oil can improve weight loss.
Other studies concluded that MCT has the possibility to improve our athletic performance. In a study, mice who were fed MCT in their diet performed better and faster at running on a treadmill in normal and high temperatures than those who did not. Some doctors have said that MCTs can also serve as an immediate energy source because MCTs are converted into ketones in our liver, which can provide better energy for our brain when in the fasting state.
How to consume MCT oil?
One way to consume MCTs in our everyday diets is through natural sources, which include food items such as butter, cheese (like goat and feta cheese), and yogurt, in addition to cow and goat’s milk, palm kernel oil, as well as coconut milk, meat, and oil. So long as you do not have a heart or liver condition, introducing small servings and doses of these foods and, therefore, MCTs into your diet should be safe.
In addition to the natural sources, there are MCT powders, supplements, and tinctures to add to your regular meals. MCT oil in its various forms can be added to foods and beverages like salad dressings and coffee, however, it’s not recommended to be used to cook with as it has a low burning point. They’re also a welcome addition to your daily smoothies, including this immune-boosting smoothie recipe by Catherine McCord.