When you hear MCT, it’s likely you may think of the oil many keto-based people add to their coffee or smoothies for a rich source of energy and fat-burning fuel. Or perhaps you’ve heard about MCTs, but are unsure as to what they are or what they do exactly?
Help is here! In this article, we’ll take a closer look at MCTs, some of their key benefits, and just how easy it is to add them to your diet.
What are MCTs?
MCTs are Medium Chain Triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that are quickly converted to energy by the body. The reason they are noted as ‘medium’ is due to the length of their chemical structure. All fatty acids are made up of strings of connected carbon and hydrogen. When categorizing fats, they are classified based on the length of their chemical structure. There are short-chain fats such as butyric acid with fewer than 6 carbons. There are medium-chain fats which have between 6-12 carbons and long-chain fats such as Omega-3s which have between 13-21.
Why does Medium Chain matter?
Whereas longer-chain fatty acids require more work by the body to break down the fats for absorption and usage, MCTs do not. As they are smaller, there’s less work for the body to break apart their carbon bonds allowing for MCTs to permeate our cell membranes more easily.
When consumed, they are sent directly to our liver where they have a thermogenic effect, positively igniting our metabolism. This is a good thing! The more we can ignite our body’s natural fat-burning, the less calories we store.
Much like an instant ‘fuel source’, MCTs do not get stored in the body as fat to be used another time, but rather ignite the body’s natural fuel-burning, providing an immediate source of energy.
This is very important to understand as so often fats get a bad reputation for causing weight gain. Where MCTs are concerned, just the opposite! Your body actually uses the kind of fat as a fuel source, one that is energizing and can last for hours depending on when and how much you consume.
Sources of MCT
You can find MCT fats in foods such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil as well as some milks and butter. Because most diets lack adequate intake of MCTs naturally, supplementation can make a wise choice to reap their benefits including optimum energy, metabolism and brain function.
The types of MCT Oil
There are 4 types of MCT oil:
- Caprioc Acid (C6)
- Caprylic Acid (C8)
- Capric Acid (C10)
- Lauric Acid (C12)
Generally speaking, the shorter the chain (meaning the lower the number of carbons the acid has), the faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy, in ketone form. Ketones are what the body produces when it’s using fat for energy instead of glucose, such as when someone is following the keto diet.
Caproic Acid (C6) is an oily liquid at room temperature and boosts the production of blood ketones. It’s found mostly in animal fats and several plants.*
Caprylic Acid (C8) has been shown to increase energy, boost ketone production, and facilitate weight loss.*
Capric Acid (C10) has many of the same properties of caprylic acid (C8) but generally takes a bit longer for the body to process into ketones [*].
Lauric Acid (C12) is a major component of coconut oil. But because it’s a bigger molecule, it takes even longer to break down and therefore isn’t optimal for ketone production.
How do MCTs improve your health?
There are several potential health benefits to consuming MCTs, many with scientific evidence and others still yet to be proven. Here are some examples below.
Better brain and memory function
Our brain requires quite a lot of energy to function each day and while it can get some of this energy from glucose, the more preferred source is ketones. That’s because ketones provide a more sustained fuel source, unlike glucose which spikes then has a crash-effect. More energy to fuel your brain cells means you will feel more sharp and ‘dialed-in’.
In the liver, MCTs are converted into ketones like beta-hydroxybutyrate, which, in the fasting state, provide better, more efficient energy for the brain, thereby increasing focus and concentration.
In more recent studies, there’s been shown a link between MCT consumption for aiding Alzheimer’s patients, however more research is needed to show direct correlation.
Improved energy & athletic performance
As we’ve touched on already, MCTs are quickly converted in the liver into ketones, which unlike glucose, promotes a more stable, supportive form of energy. For athletes, consuming MCT oil before their workouts has been shown to lower their rates of perceived exertion during moderate to high-intensity exercise. It’s also been shown to improve athletic endurance by reducing lactate levels (a marker of fatigue within exercising muscle).
Healthier gut microbiome
As MCTs contain antibacterial and antifungal properties, for those with compromised gut health such as bacterial and yeast infections, they may benefit from adding MCTs as part of their treatment plan.
MCTs have also been show to reduce bloating and gastrointestinal symptoms, however more research is pending.
Easier weight loss
One of the key reasons MCTs have become so popular may be linked to their role with increasing weight loss and/or assisting with easier weight maintenance.
When consumed, MCTs promote satiety, thereby reducing the need to snack or eat large meals. Further to that, MCTs also seem to increase thermogenesis, the metabolic process in which the body burns calories to produce heat that can result in weight loss.
In one particular study using both lean and obese male subjects, an increase in thermogenesis was shown after eating long-chain triglycerides (found in olive oil, nuts and avocados) were replaced with MCTs in the meal[*].
Why C8 is Superior
When determining which MCT is best for you, you will want to consider the benefits you are desiring most.
Inside our Collagen+ MCT Oil powder, we included C8 & C10 to provide two most potent – upgraded versions – of MCT for best results. Both C8 & C10 have been shown to provide a number of health benefits including an increase in neurological function and ketone production.
Consider C8 much like a higher-octane fuel, one that’s really going to power-up your body (and brain) most effectively, similar to a higher grade gasoline for your car.
Here are just a few of the benefits of C8:
- Helps to boost metabolism, and increase energy (via up-regulation of the key genes expression pathways) [*][*]
- Supports weight loss and weight management
- Helps promote satiety and regulate appetite
- Can be beneficial for random ailments like tooth infections, frequent urination, and respiratory infections [*].
- Is tasteless, and can be added to beverages, in foods, baking, etc.
How does consuming coconut oil compare?
While coconut oil does provide MCT fats, you will need to consume much higher amounts to get the same effects as you would from taking concentrated C8/C10 MCT oil. That’s because while coconut oil contains approximately 65% MCTs, 50% of that is lauric acid (C12) and only around 14% (combined) is C8 and C10. This means that 100% pure C8 MCT oil is nearly ten times more concentrated than regular MCT oil (e.g., coconut oil).
How to incorporate MCT into your diet
An easy way to consume MCT is by including a supplement such as our Collagen+ MCT Oil powder. Whether you prefer chocolate or vanilla or unflavoured, just one serving added to your coffee, in smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal (among other options), provides you with a healthy source of upgraded C8 & C10 MCTs combined with grass-fed Collagen plus Coconut Milk Powder.
Along with being creamy and delicious, you will experience a lift in natural energy, while keeping your blood sugar levels stable in-between meals. Not to mention a boost in your cognitive function, so you can focus on your work with more clarity and efficiency.
Another way to boost your MCT intake is by including our ENERGY gummies. These vegan, function-designed gummies give you a synergistic combination of Vitamin B12, Green Tea Extract, plus MCT to boost your mental clarity and energy without any artificial sugars or sweeteners.
Is MCT safe to consume daily?
Yes! We designed our feed that brain Collagen+ MCT Oil formulas and our ENERGY gummies for easy, daily enjoyment and health-boosting results. Unlike liquid MCT oils which can cause digestive issues, our products are designed to avoid such from happening. That said, if you find your stomach is super-sensitive, you may wish to start with a half serving of our Collagen+ MCT Oil powder for a few days, before taking a full serving.
Whether you choose to add MCT to your coffee using our Collagen+ MCT Oil powder or love the convenience of enjoying gummies such as our ENERGY gummies, there’s no time like now to start enjoying this healthy source of fat - one your body and brain will thank you for!
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.