MCT oil has seen a sudden rise to fame as of late. It has been made most famous by Dave Asprey and the creation of Bulletproof Coffee. There are many scientific claims to the effects of MCT oil that far supersede the promised lasting energy and metabolism of Bulletproof Coffee. MCT has unique properties that allow it to function differently than other types of fat. Whether you are trying you lose weight, increase energy, or help treat Alzheimer’s, MCT could be for you.
What is it?
MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride. As you could probably infer, there are short, medium, and long chain triglycerides. The length of the chain has to do with the number of carbon atoms. The shorter the chain is the more easily the body can produce ketones.
In order to best explain it, I often tell people to think about simple and complex carbohydrates. In theory, a simple carbohydrate gets converted into glucose very quickly and with relatively little work by the body. A complex carbohydrate, on the other hand, requires much more effort and energy from the body and does not produce glucose as rapidly. This is an oversimplification of the process and a gross comparison, but gives us a solid idea of how different length triglycerides are dealt with in the body.
Looking specifically at MCT Oil, there are 4 different lengths that determine what type of MCT oil you have. The first is Capric Acid, which has 6 carbons. This is the shortest of the MCT’s and has the fastest conversion to ketones. Word on the street, however, is that this oil smells like goats and is not well tolerated, digestively speaking. Because of this, it is not generally consumed and the mic gets passed to C8 and C10 for consumption purposes.
C8 is known as Caprylic Acid. This is the number one seed in the MCT tournament. It has the best ketone effects (aka most direct fuel for your brain) and is the shortest MCT that can be consumed without smelling like a goat or causing gastrointestinal distress. When you find a high quality MCT Oil, it is mostly made up of Caprylic Acid.
C10 goes by the name of Capric Acid. If Caprylic Acid gets the one seed, Capric Acid is a close number two. It is not quite as effective as C8, but it still readily converts into ketones and gives your body all the benefits that MCT has become known for (more below). What makes C10 appealing is its cheaper cost to produce. Supply and demand teaches us that when you have a lot of something, it is easier to drop the cost. If you want an MCT Oil but don’t want to break the bank, Capric Acid is a safe choice.
C12 is the redheaded stepchild of the group. It is comprised of 12 carbon atoms and goes by the name of Lauric Acid. If that is ringing a bell, it is probably because Lauric Acid has played a major role in coconut oil’s rise to stardom. Lauric Acid in highly controversial in the science world. Many experts believe that it should be classified as a long chain triglyceride opposed to a medium chain. It takes significantly longer to break down into ketones and it’s performance is no where near that of Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10). It is believed that the classification was blotched during the 70’s; perhaps the scientists were listening to too much ABBA.
Don’t sleep on Lauric Acid though! It has many health benefits that make it a staple to your diet. It does wonders for your immune system as it has strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It is available in coconut oil, which has a high smoke point and is an excellent option to cook with. You may not use Lauric Acid for all the same reasons you would use Caprylic or Capric Acids, but it is still a useful addition to your repertoire.
What are the health benefits of MCT Oil?
MCT is most well-known from its ability to be converted to ketones. Ketones drive all the buzz around the Ketogenic diet. They are very often misunderstood and their health benefits have been historically overlooked. They do, however have many advantages and more and more information is becoming available to us that shows the benefits of burning ketones.
One such benefit is ketones are used as an alternative fuel source to glucose. When metabolic dysfunction occurs, such as insulin sensitivity or diabetes, the body has difficulties processing glucose. By using MCT oil and other methods of using ketones as a fuel source, your body can burn ketones in lieu of glucose. As a result, symptoms are often slowed or even reversed. The effects of ketones and a Ketogenic diet have been known for nearly 100 years for the treatment of patients with Epilepsy. Clearly there is a direct impact on the brain.
If you aren’t faced with a neurological condition but could stand to lose a few pounds, MCT could be what you are looking for. MCT is not a miracle oil that will cause you to lose 15 pounds over night, but it does have thermogenic properties that rally your metabolism. Ketones have the unique ability to increase the presence of ketones and induce fat burning despite the presence of carbohydrates. This is big news for those of you that do not want to follow the extreme protocols of a Ketogenic diet. You can ramp your body into fat burning mode with out depriving yourself of certain nutrients!
Speaking of nutrients, MCT’s play a positive role in the formation of a healthy gut. If you’ve been awake for the last 5-10 years, you will know how important it is to improve your gut health. Leaky gut syndrome and conditions associated with it are responsible for a whole slew of conditions varying from food allergies to mental disorders. MCT Oil’s antimicrobial and antiviral properties make for a healthier gut. This in turn leads to better nutrient absorption, prevention against invaders, and an overall improvement in biochemical function.
To sum it up, MCT has a significant impact on a wide variety of body systems. The effects of consumption are most prevalent in the brain as it provides a readily available fuel source that can increase mental performance, whether facing a condition such as Alzheimer’s or simply looking for peak performance. It ramps up the body’s metabolism making for the potential of increased energy and weight loss. Finally, it improves the condition of the almighty gut which directly impacts both your immune system and the overall function of your body.
What’s the Best MCT Oil?
The most alluring MCT oil is Brain Octane Oil by the aforementioned Dave Asprey. Brain Octane Oil is claimed to be sourced from Coconuts only and made up of 100% Caprylic Acid (C8). Whereas coconut oil on its own has a wide range of Caprylic Acid (anywhere from 20-60%), Brain Octane Oil’s C8 status is 100%. The concentrated amount of Caprylic Acid means an extreme boost in ketone production and better overall effects.
For those of you that care about Earth and other species (and we hope you do), sourcing MCT from coconut oil opposed to palm oil has significant meaning. Over 3.5 million hectares of rain forest have been destroyed over the last 20 years in the production of palm oil. Additionally, an average of 6,000 orangutans are lost each year just because of palm oil production. We do enough damage to our environment, lets keep our MCT’s flowing from coconuts.
If you are hard pressed to shell out the roughly $25 for Brain Octane Oil, there are cheaper alternatives that are still very effective. As mentioned earlier, Capric Acid (C10) is much cheaper to produce. Because of this, many companies offer an MCT Oil that is a blend of both Caprylic Acid and Capric Acid. You still get a dose of ketones and all the benefits of MCT’s, just not as significant as straight Caprylic Acid. The blend, however, drops the cost and makes for a much more reasonable option.
Bulletproof makes their own blend called XCT Oil that is about $10 cheaper than Brain Octane Oil. Fancy names aside, we like these oils simply because they are 100% from coconuts. Being a site for both Sapiens and Canines, we like to think that we are not harming any other species. NOW MCT is another Caprylic/Capric Acid blend that we have used in the past, but it is made from coconut oil and palm oil so we have been transitioning it out.
Outside of those three options, we have not personally tried any other brand of MCT Oil. We honestly believe that we hit the jackpot with the Brain Octane Oil and XCT Oil so we haven’t felt the need to do continued research and exploration. Knowing that there is a reasonably affordable high quality product and a cheaper alternative is all that we need.
Can My Dog Use It?
Yes! Coincidentally, at the writing of this article we stumbled upon this podcast that discusses the use of MCT’s in animals. In short, you can use MCT Oil no matter what type of food you are feeding your canine. For those of us feeding raw, it has even greater significance since our pups are consuming a good amount of fat. MCT ensures that your dog is getting the right types of fat and she still gets all the additional benefits of the MCT!
We started adding a cap or two to Maddie’s food and we’re not sure she even noticed. Let’s be real here, if it’s in her bowl, she is eating it (with the exception of chicken feet, that was a surprising no-go for her). We are interested to see if there are any noticeable changes that occur as she has been battling some weight gain and health issues lately (potential hypothyroidism? More on that later).
Whether you feed kibble (not judging, just disappointed) or raw (yay!), try adding some MCT to your pup’s food. Take note of any changes and let us know what they are! If there aren’t any changes, rest assured that you are giving your dog a healthy source of fat in lieu of something rancid or detrimental to his health!
How Can I Use It?
The most popular way to use it is to concoct a bulletproof coffee. Might we suggest heading over to our review of bulletproof coffee for full details? Bulletproof Coffee combines the best of ketones, fasting, and, most importantly, coffee!
MCT’s can be used just as you would most fats. Toss it on a salad, put it in a smoothie, add it to recipes, or whatever you please. Due to its high smoke point, you can cook with MCT Oil. We suggest using regular coconut oil for cooking because of MCT’s higher price point. Cooking with coconut oil also allows you to get the benefits of Lauric Acid.
Summary and Final Thoughts
There you have it. Everything you need to know about MCT Oil, and probably more! There is no question that the health implications of MCT Oil make it a strong contender for your daily consumption. Boosts in brain performance, metabolism, fat loss, immune system function, and more make this oil a superstar. There is, however, one concern that we feel necessary to share.
Lower quality MCT’s can cause digestive issues. These issues are not to be taken lightly and has led to the phrasing of the term “disaster pants” by Dave Asprey (once again). We will leave this to your own imagination but we highly suggest starting small (teaspoon) and working your way up when you know it is safe. Even with the higher quality MCT’s, start slow and see how your body responds. It’s a marathon not a sprint, folks.
What are your experiences with MCT? We want to know! Leave a comment below!
Note: There are many references in this article to Dave Asprey and Bulletproof. We are in no way affiliated with the company, we are simply fans of his work and forward thinking. He has been at the forefront of MCT use and creates meaningful content for peak mental performance, somethings we are always striving to improve.