MCT, an acronym for medium-chain triglyceride, has gained popularity among bodybuilders and athletes due to its many benefits. One of the most popular MCT oil is coconut oil with medium-length chain fats called triglycerides. These fats are easy to digest than a majority of longer-chain fatty acids provided by several foods today. MCT is an extract from coconut oils, with other sources including dairy products and palm oils, and they contain 50% fat. There are four types of MCT oil; however, capric and caprylic are the most common and considered beneficial.
Benefits of MCT oils
Health enthusiasts have promoted the consumption of healthy fats because of their effects on weight loss, longevity, gut health, improved energy, and a balanced microbiome. Here are the seven benefits of MCT oils to the body.
It could promote weight loss
Though current studies are not unanimous on this subject, there are several reasons why MCT oil could result in weight loss. It promotes the release of the satiety hormone leptin and peptide YY in the body, leading to fewer calories. One study found that individuals consuming two tablespoons of MCT oil during breakfast ate less food at lunch than those who took coconut oil. MCT oil is also associated with the increase of glucose and triglyceride in the body, which may cause a feeling of fullness, meaning reduced weight and obesity. Additionally, MCT oils have a lower-calorie level than the long-chained triglycerides (LCTs), contributing to weight loss. It is suitable for a ketogenic diet since they are often converted into ketone bodies, helping you stay in ketosis- a fat-burning state. MCT oil is essential in improving gut health by optimizing the friendly bacteria’s growth and supporting gut lining, resulting in weight loss.
It can act as a source of clean energy
MCT has a shorter chain length, meaning they are easily absorbed in the body than the long-chained triglycerides. The liver synthesizes MCT oil to provide needed energy into ketone bodies or stores it as body fat for future use. Because MCT is absorbed directly into the cell without breaking down, it can act as a source of immediate energy. The ketones bodies derived from MCT can be a good energy source for your brain cells as they pass through the blood-brain barrier.
Its fatty acid content can help in fighting bacterial growth and yeast
Some studies suggest that MCT oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Another study showed that MCTs in coconut oil minimized Candida Albicans (a yeast that causes skin infections and thrush) growth by 25%. MCT’s ability to fight bacteria and yeast growth maybe because it has lauric, caprylic, and capric acids. Some studies have also indicated that MCT can prevent the widespread development of fungus in hospitals by 50%. Most of these researches entailed the use of in-vitro or animals with few human studies. Further human research could help make a decisive conclusion.
It may minimize the risk of heart disease
MCT oil is known to support fat and weight loss which reduces the chances of heart problems. It helps reduce factors contributing to heart problems such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation. One study conducted on overweight individuals demonstrated that taking a combination of MCT, phytosterols, and flaxseed leads to 12.5% cholesterol reduction, resulting in higher than the 4.7% reduction achieved by olive oil. It also helps reduce the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol while enhancing the production of good cholesterol HDL for heart protection. Another study also suggested that MCT oils can reduce CRP, an inflammatory marker that can exacerbate heart disease.
It could help in blood sugar management
Since it enhances weight loss through the fat-burning process and reduced fat storage, it can benefit individuals with diabetes. A study conducted on some 40 people with diabetes demonstrated that those put under a daily consumption of MCT oil experienced waist circumference reduction, weight loss, and insulin resistance than those on corn oils. Another study also showed that diabetes taking MCT and injected with insulin reduced their sugar intake by 30% than those taking LCTs to maintain an average sugar level. Nevertheless, the same study found that MCT did not reduce sugar levels during fasting, signifying that other factors may influence how MCT works.
It is common in managing epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease
MCT is popular with the ketogenic diet, initially introduced to manage epilepsy. The liver converts MCTs oil into ketone bodies producing the same effects as fasting, which reduces the frequency of seizures. The use of capric supplements has had a significant impact on controlling seizures than most common anti-epileptic drugs. A study in rats found that MCT inhibits brain receptors causing seizures. However, those considering doing a ketogenic diet to help manage epilepsy should talk to a doctor first.
MCT can have a positive effect on Alzheimer’s disease. This disease impairs the brain’s sugar usage; however, MCT provides an alternative energy source called ketones, allowing the brain to function better. Some studies suggest that an intake of 20 to 70 grams of MCT supplements containing capric and caprylic acid could improve Alzheimer’s.
Potential side effects of MCT oil
Though it is generally a safe supplement, it may result in some disadvantages.
It may stimulate hunger hormones
Although MCTs promote weight loss through the release of the satiety hormone, they may also cause the release of hunger hormone in some individuals. One study showed that MCT is responsible for the stimulation of appetite hormone neuropeptide Y and ghrelin.
Consumed in high dosage, it can cause a fat build-up in the liver
A study conducted on mice for twelve weeks found that those on MCTs diet had increased liver fat. Since it can contribute to additional calories, those intending to lose weight should consume MCT as part of the required fat intake rather than TLCs fat.
The Bottom Line
MCTs have many health benefits, such as weight loss by promoting fat burning and improving gut health. It is also considered a clean source of energy for the brain and optimal body operations. Therefore, it is used to reduce diabetes, epilepsy, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it could result in the accumulation of fats in the liver and increases hunger hormones in some people.