Top 5 Benefits of MCT Oil

benefits of mct oilMCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride, and it is a form of fat. According to Brian St Pierre (writing for Precision Nutrition) they are “absorbed straight into our portal vein and sent straight to the liver, bypassing normal fat digestion and absorption” [1]. Because of this they are seen as distinctly different to other types of fat. The most common sources of MCT are coconut oil, cheese, butter, milk, and palm kernel oil [2].

In recent years MCTs have become very popular in the bodybuilding and paleo communities, and a lot of studies have been performed on them. Bulletproof Coffee is probably the most famous product that promotes the use of MCT oils. In this article we will be looking at some of the known benefits of MCT oils that are backed by science.

Top 5 Benefits of MCT Oil

Benefit #1. MCT oils promote satiety

Satiety is the feeling of fullness you get after a meal, eating foods that have a high satiety score can allow you to feel less hungry between meals therefore preventing you from snacking or from eating too much food at one time. A study by Coleman, Quinn, and Clegg (2016) found that Medium-Chain Triglycerides that were consumed in beverage form could increase satiety [3].

It does this by stimulating production of two hormones that promote satiety, these are Leptin and peptide YY. Leptin is the more well known of the two hormones, it is produced within fat cells and works by telling the brain that you are full. This way it can regulate your energy balance, but when you are dieting you don’t want energy balance as this will not result in weight loss.

You are actively trying to lose weight so you need a negative energy balance, which means that your body will produce less Leptin and you won’t feel full. Consuming foods that have a positive effect on Leptin can help you to stay true to your diet and eventually lose weight.

Benefit #2. MCT oils reduce food intake

This next benefit is a bit of a run-on from the last one, but there is a difference. While MCTs can reduce satiety that could just translate into feeling less hungry, or feeling full after a meal. This is a psychological state, not a physiological. But studies have shown that not only do MCTs promote satiety but they also lead to a reduced food intake.

In the study we mentioned earlier a diet containing MCTs led to a lower daily calorie intake per day compared to the control group [3].

Benefit #3. MCT oils increase weight loss

To clarify, the correct use of MCT oils can increase weight loss. One of the reasons why Bullet Proof Coffee is so controversial is that it claims to aid weight loss while containing over 400 calories in a single serving. If you are drinking a 400+ calorie drink containing your daily recommendation of dietary fats you probably won’t lose weight.

But, because of the influence of MCTs on satiety and the way that they can help to reduce your food intake there is an argument to make that within a calorie deficit MCT oil can help you to lose weight. Provided that you don’t go over your calorie target a diet containing MCTs will be more effective than many other diets.

Benefit #4. MCT oils contain less calories than regular oils

Earlier we discussed how medium chain triglycerides were different to long chain triglycerides (the usual form of dietary fats) because they bypass normal fat digestion. According to Nutrition Review MCTs provide 10% less calories compared to LCTs [4]. They are also metabolised and used as fuel much faster because they are absorbed and sent to the liver, this means that they are less likely to be stored as body fat.

Combine this with increased satiety and you can see why replacing regular vegetable oil with coconut oil, less calories per serving, immediately used as fuel rather than being stored, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and can lower your food intake.

Benefit #5. MCT oils can lower cholesterol

A 2009 study on obese women found that supplementing with coconut oil led to an increase in HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol) and a reduction in LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol), they also lost more weight than the control groups and reduced their waist circumference [5]. Reducing cholesterol is a great way to lower your risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, and strokes.

How to implement MCT oil into your diet

Whatever you do don’t go down the route that bullet proof coffee drinkers go down, don’t add a tonne of coconut oil to your incredibly expensive coffee. It tastes gross and adds hundreds of calories to your diet. The mistake that most people make is that instead of going “oh that’s a neat trick let’s swap some vegetable oil for coconut oil next time we cook” they go COCONUT OIL IN EVERYTHING.

Using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil is a great idea, it’s a small change but it can make a difference long term. Combine this with other small changes to your diet and you will really see a difference. But adding coconut oil to all your meals, drinking it in your coffee, using it instead of butter on your bread, or any of the other ridiculous ways people overreact is going to make you fat!

Track all your calories, pay attention to your macronutrient ratios, and work out what fat sources you are already using that can be easily replaced by MCT oil, that’s the recipe for success.

 

References

[1] Brian St Pierre. 2016. Coffee… upgraded? Is “Bulletproof Coffee” all it’s cracked up to be? [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/bulletproof-coffee. [Accessed 29 March 2017].

[2] Paleo Leap. 2015. MCT OIL: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. [ONLINE] Available at: https://paleoleap.com/mct-oil-need-know/. [Accessed 29 March 2017].

[3] Coleman, H., Quinn, P., Clegg, M. 2016. Medium-chain triglycerides and conjugated linoleic acids in beverage form increase satiety and reduce food intake in humans. Nutrition Research 36(6): 526-33

[4] Nutrition Review. 2013. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). [ONLINE] Available at: https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts/. [Accessed 29 March 2017].

[5] Assuncao, M., Ferreira, H., dos Santos, A., Cabral, C., Florencio, T. 2009. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biomechanical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids 44(7): 593-601

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