If you’ve been paying attention to wellness trends, chances are you’ve heard of MCT oil. More and more people are swearing by MCTs, especially those leading a ketogenic, paleo, or low-carb lifestyle.
But is there a good reason for the hype—what’s the deal with MCTs? And why do people think they’re so good for us?
Let’s get back to basics and discuss what the heck an MCT even is, the possible benefits, and some different ways you can expect to incorporate MCTs and MCT supplements into your diet.
What’s MCT Oil?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs are one of three types of triglycerides, and triglycerides are one of many types of lipids found in the body or certain foods. If you don’t know what lipids are, just think of them as different types of fat. Triglycerides, wax, cholesterol, testosterone, cortisol, and other steroids are all types of lipids.
Each one plays a different role in your body, but MCT fats are special.
MCTs are special because of how your body absorbs and utilizes them compared to other fats. They can help support increased energy, encourage weight loss, and a whole lot of other healthful benefits.
Basically, MCTs are a great way to promote overall wellness and health.
But more on that later.
Where Can I Get Medium-Chain Triglycerides?
You can get medium-chain triglycerides from a variety of foods. The most common natural sources of medium chain triglycerides include:
- Coconut oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Dairy products
You can also get extra MCTs from various nutritional supplements. Most people mix their MCT supplements into drinks for convenient consumption, but there are a bunch of ways you can choose to consume MCTs.
Promoting Wellness | What Are The Health Benefits of MCT Oil?
Now that you better understand what makes medium-chain triglycerides so special, it’s time to talk about the benefits.
In this section, we’ll share four different ways MCTs and MCT oils are beneficial to you and your health.
Each of the benefits on our list comes with a different amount of certainty behind it. Some of these benefits are pretty well established, while others need a bit more research to support their promising findings. Nonetheless, we believe there is more than enough solid science to suggest that MCTs and MCT oils are worth your attention.
1. Clear your mind.
Some studies suggest that MCTs can help support improved memory. We’re not just talking about people who keep forgetting their keys, either—we’re talking about people with real memory impairment.
Researchers performed a study where six patients were chosen to receive either a dose of MCTs every day or a placebo over the course of 24 weeks. Each of these groups of patients had some sort of mild memory-related problems, and because of that impairment, experienced memory difficulties.
So what did the researchers find after the 24 weeks were over?
“Intake of MCT oil increased serum ketone bodies and improved memory, while intake of placebo did not show improvement in any of the cognitive measures tested,” wrote the researchers.
The researchers credited this improvement in memory to an increase in serum ketone bodies. The serum ketone bodies increase in patients was a direct result of the MCT oils that the patients consumed. If you needed another reason to go keto, this might be it.
So what does this mean for you?
As we get older, our bodies age with us. Nothing surprising there.
We can’t do all of the things we used to. Our metabolism slows down. We can’t stay up as late as we once did. And we start forgetting things. Most people try to keep their minds sharp by keeping them active. And that’s a great thing. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are great for stuff like that.
But it seems like MCT oils might be a way to supplement your other efforts to stay sharp as you notice that your memory starts to fade. So if you want a mental pick-me-up, consider trying an MCT oil. This study suggests that, if nothing else, MCTs can help maintain and manage mental clarity.
2. Put some pep in your step.
Several studies show that MCTs can help support energy levels and endurance. We’ll highlight two different studies that delve into these benefits.
The first study was conducted by researchers to determine whether or not MCTs were a safe alternative to other possible sources of energy. Researchers divided a group of 13 participants into two randomized groups. The first group received a long-chain triglyceride drink, while the other group received a drink that was 50% long-chain triglycerides and 50% medium-chain triglycerides.
The results were interesting. Researchers found that the group who received the mixed drink had better nitrogen balance than those who only had the long-chain triglycerides. They also found that the MCT group had better blood work too, generally speaking. This tells us that MCTs are much easier for the body to metabolize and use than long-chain triglycerides.
It also lets us know that there are alternatives to endless bottles of Diet Coke or cups of coffee.
The study helps us understand that MCTs are safe to put in our diet and that they’re possibly a preferable source of energy to other normal fats made of long-chain triglycerides. Other scientists have seen similar things in their experiments.
The second paper was a scientific review of research. A review of research is when someone looks at all published studies on a specific topic.
The reviewer wanted to see how well MCTs helped patients with their weight loss. Turns out MCT oils might help. However, the reviewer discovered many other interesting things, too.
For example, only two of the studies the reviewer found showed any sort of connection between MCT oil and performance enhancement.
However, most of these studies and experiments showed that MCTs helped aid fat oxidation and energy use by the body. So if you’re looking to burn fat or you want to maintain your energy levels, maybe consider adding more MCTs to your diet.
The researcher also learned that MCTs can help support suppressed appetite. They also said MCTs can help manage your body composition.
So, although MCTs won’t help you squeeze an extra set into your workout, they will help you use the fat stores you do have for energy. Not only that, but your body will be able to use those fat stores more efficiently.
3. Potential to help manage certain diseases.
Studies suggest that MCT consumption is linked to disease management. We wanted to highlight three scientific articles that show a positive connection between three different diseases and MCT consumption.
The first disease we want to talk about is Alzheimer's disease. In a review of scientific literature, five researchers made two conclusions.
The first is that Alzheimer’s, oral health, microbial endocrinology, and nutrition are all related. If you’re able to improve the latter items in the list, then you can manage the first. The second conclusion is that MCTs can help improve these factors holistically, which helps manage your risk of Alzheimer’s.
The second disease we wanted to talk about is epilepsy.
For a long time now, scientists have known that cutting carbs helped better manage seizures caused by epilepsy. There were a lot of theories but none of them fit all of the evidence perfectly.
All researchers knew was that people who ate fewer carbs had better-managed seizures.
Then, three researchers published a paper which pulled together the findings of 49 different studies to show that it wasn’t the lack of carbs, but the extra fat that helped manage seizures.
More specifically, it was the increase in MCTs.
These researchers are not saying that MCT oils are a cure for epilepsy, nor are they saying that you can manage epilepsy with MCTs alone. At this point in time, researchers believe that MCT oil should be used as a therapeutic mechanism. It’s a way to supplement your doctor’s seizure control methods, not replace them.
The third disease we want to talk about includes a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.
Unlike the other studies we’ve mentioned, that were published in the US National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, our next paper was published by the University of Virginia’s Medical School.
The two researchers over at the University of Virginia explained why there is so much interest in MCT oil, as it relates to gastrointestinal disorders. According to them, there is at least some evidence that MCTs can help people manage the symptoms of at least three different gastrointestinal diseases.
These three papers make a convincing case that MCT oils can be used for so much more than simple weight loss. So if you’re looking for a holistic way to improve your health, you should definitely consider MCTs.
4. Bacteria beware!
Studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can help manage bacteria levels within the body. Good and bad bacteria can lead to future infections or can signify good or bad gut health.
In one study, 10 patients were put into two randomized groups. One group took doses of long-chain triglycerides while the other took a mix of long and medium-chain triglycerides.
The results were interesting.
LCTs were able to kill bacteria, but at a lower rate than the LCT and MCT drink mix. This tells us that MCTs are not only effective at killing bacteria but they’re better at killing them than LCTs are.
Talk about improving your overall wellness!
A Supplement That Fits Your Lifestyle | Can I Take MCT Oil Straight?
Not everyone wakes up and grabs a cup of coffee in the morning. Some people prefer a glass of juice and some oatmeal while others eat nothing at all.
Everyone is different and health supplements need to take that into consideration.
So, can you take MCT oils straight from the bottle?
Yes, you can, but there are certain small exceptions.
As we’ve explained, MCT oil is a fatty acid. If you have a bottle of liquid MCT oil, you can just take a spoonful by itself if you’d really like to. There’s nothing wrong with taking it straight if you want. MCT oils are tasteless, and they don’t have a smell to them, unless you’re using coconut oil instead of a straight supplement.
But certain supplements might be harder to take by the spoonful than others.
A perfect example of this is the powdered MCT supplement. You could swallow a spoonful of powder if you wanted to, but chances are that would be harder than swallowing a liquid supplement. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with consuming the powder straight. We just assume that it’s easier to mix it with a drink of some sort.
If you’re not into coffee for whatever reason, there are other ways you can take MCT oils.
For The Love Of Variety | Can I Cook With MCT Oil?
So if you’re not a coffee-in-the-morning person, but you don’t want to spoon feed yourself coconut oil or MCT oil, what do you do?
Well, you’re in luck because there are plenty of other options. There are a variety of drinks, dressings, and foods you can make that use MCTs as a recipe ingredient. There are even MCT ice cream recipes out there.
Here are some of our favorite MCT oil recipes that go beyond mixing a spoonful of supplements into your morning coffee.
Go ahead and give them a try.
1. Peach Cherry Smoothie Bowl
Who doesn’t love a tasty smoothie bowl? They’re good for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. And we certainly wouldn’t judge you if you had one for dinner either. This recipe combines milk, peaches, cherries, dates, and MCT oils to make a tasty smoothie that you can then add anything from granola to coconut flakes.
The best part is, nothing says you have to use peaches and cherries. This MCT recipe is great because you could swap out its fruit ingredients for any of your personal favorite fruits. Do you like blueberries and pomegranates? Go ahead and try it. Do you prefer strawberries and bananas? There’s nothing stopping you. Go ahead and customize this dish however you want.
Each serving has 1 tablespoon of MCT oil in it.
Get the recipe here.
2. Chocolate Fat Bomb Smoothie
This low-carb smoothie is what keto dreams are made of. The smoothie is made with avocado, cocoa powder, almond milk, and MCT oil. You can use any MCT oil you want to make this smoothie. This recipe is great for satisfying your sweet tooth while keeping your excess sugars low.
It seriously tastes so good.
Get the recipe here.
3. Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream
This is one of the ice cream recipes we told you about. If you love lemon poppy seed muffins, then you’re going to love this ice cream. Not only is it delicious, but it is also vegetarian and sugar-free, so it promotes wellness and health in more ways than one.
For this recipe, you’ll need coconut milk, chia seeds, lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, and MCT oil. The recipe says you can put as many as 3 tablespoons of MCT oil into your batch or as little as one tablespoon. So go ahead and test different amounts to find your perfect dose.
You only need to try a scoop or two of this lemon poppy seed ice cream after dinner to see that it’s totally worth the effort.
Get the recipe here.
4. Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Here’s another fantastic ice cream recipe for those who want to try something a bit less fruity. This vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream is a great, dairy-free option which balances mint and chocolate without skimping on either flavor.
For this recipe, you’ll need coconut milk, vanilla, 1-3 tablespoons of MCT oil, chocolate chips, and peppermint extract.
Get the recipe here.
5. Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs make for a great side dish for either dinner or salad. And this particular recipe qualifies as keto, paleo, and Whole30, which means you can have these eggs no matter what your diet restrictions are—besides being vegan, of course.
If you know how to make deviled eggs, this recipe will be a cinch. All you have to do is add the MCT oil to your egg yolk. What really makes this recipe stand out is the spice mix. To make that seasoning combination you’ll need dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.
This is a truly egg-cellent recipe.
Get the recipe here.
6. Cucumber Ranch Dressings
Not only does this cucumber ranch taste great on salad while adding MCTs to your diet, but it also works as a probiotic. All you need to do is make a bottle of this and splash some onto your salad at lunch. It’s really great.
You’ll need cucumber, garlic, parsley, dill, chives, strained yogurt, kefir, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to make this salad dressing.
If you’re looking to add some healthy fats to your diet, this is probably one of the best ways to do it. You can even use it as a veggie dip. Anything that encourages you to have more veggies has to be a good thing.
Get the recipe here.
7. Frothy Irish Breakfast Tea Latte
Maybe you don’t have a problem with hot drinks in the morning, but you’re more of a tea than a coffee person. This frothy Irish breakfast tea latte might be just the thing for you. All you need to make this tea is a bag of Irish tea, some heavy cream, pink Himalayan salt, MCT oil, and your favorite sweetener.
It only takes a few minutes to brew a cup of Irish tea and it’s guaranteed to warm you up as the MCT oils get to work on the rest. This is another customizable recipe. If you wanted to, you could probably replace the Irish tea for your favorite savory tea flavor, whatever that might be.
Get the recipe here.
8. Coffee-Free Latte
Here’s another latte for you to consider, and this one is also coffee-free. The Coffee-Free Latte recipe calls for water, dandelion tea, MCT oil, butter, maca, and your favorite sweetener. It takes about 4 minutes to make. According to the recipe, you can add other supplements to the drink such as a collagen supplement, which can help with joint pain and improve skin health.
Whether you choose to add anything else to your coffee-free latte or not, just know that it tastes great and is a great way to start your day.
Get the recipe here.
9. Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Pecan Shake
This last recipe is a delicious shake recipe that combines milk, pecans, coconut syrup, cocoa powder, protein powder, and 1 tablespoon of MCT oil. This smoothie has a sweet, nutty taste that isn’t overpowering.
Not only do you get the added MCT oils incorporated into your diet but you can also get a fair amount of protein from drinking one of these shakes too.
Get the recipe here.
Don’t ever feel like you can’t have MCT oils because you don’t like this or that. These are just some of the many MCT recipes that you can find out there, so just know that no matter what your diet and taste preferences are, there’s a recipe out there that you’ll like.MCTs are truly for everyone.
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
If you haven’t noticed, while we have been talking about MCT oil, we’ve also talked about coconut oil a lot. That’s because coconut oil is rich in MCTs. Studies show that coconut oil is 13%-14% MCT oil. In fact, it’s probably one of the best sources for MCTs other than a straight MCT supplement.
That being said, there are some differences between coconut oil and MCT oil.
Here are a couple of those differences.
Difference #1 | Fat Content
According to Medical News Today, you can get MCTs from a couple of different foods including coconut oil, palm kernel oil, milk, and butter. Each of these foods has varying amounts of MCTs in them, and coconut oil contains the highest percentage of MCTs.
That being said, if you’re looking to maximize the benefits of MCTs, it’d make sense to minimize the other fats you consume with it. Coconut oil might be a great source of MCTs, but it’s a great source for other fats too – fat’s that your body will likely store as body fat instead of converting into energy.
If you’re looking to feel more satiated, have more energy, and lose more weight, consuming a lot of coconut oil won’t be as helpful as straight MCT oil.
Difference #2 | Other Uses
The University of Wisconsin Green Bay published an article talking about the pros and cons of coconut oil and MCT oil. In their article, they highlighted that coconut oil is a great natural remedy for hair and skin. It’s also a great baking alternative to butter. Coconut oil also has a high smoke point, which means it’s a better cooking fat than olive oil or butter.
The benefits of MCT oil, on the other hand, are mostly internal. You wouldn’t want to put straight MCT oil into a pan of muffins. Nor should you put it in your hair. It’s best to just put some MCT’s in your coffee or preferred hot beverage and drink it.
So, just because the benefits of MCTs are more pronounced in nutritional supplements than they are in regular coconut oil doesn’t mean you should throw out your coconut oil. Just use it for something else. You can still use coconut oil in a variety of different situations that you probably wouldn’t want to use MCT oil.
It’s all a matter of knowing what oil should be used when and for what reason.
MCT Oils | More Than A Trend
Scientists, researchers, doctors, and nutritionists alike are all still studying the benefits and side effects of medium-chain triglycerides. Right now, the evidence suggests MCTs and MCT oils are safe for most healthy adults and that there are great benefits if they’re used correctly.
If you’re looking for a way to curb cravings and improve weight loss, then you should consider taking an MCT supplement. Many people across the world have seen amazing results with MCTs.
If you think MCTs are right for you, consider Zhou Nutrition’s MCT Powder or MCT Oil. Every serving of MCT Powder contains 9 grams, and every serving of MCT Oil contains 14 grams of MCTs to help keep you energized and satiated throughout the day. We have also supplemented our MCT powder with 4.5 grams of our special acacia prebiotic fiber blend to help promote gut health and lessen the stomach problems that some people experience with MCT oil supplements.
Our MCT-rich supplements goes great in coffee, shakes, and smoothies.