Accredited Practising Dietitian & Health coach
August 10, 2023
Discover MCT Oil and the benefits for weight loss and glucose control. With a reputation for energy-boosting properties and potential weight loss benefits, many are keen to understand what MCT oil is and whether it can genuinely aid in optimising metabolism.
In the bustling landscape of health and wellness, there are countless supplements and dietary strategies that claim to offer transformative benefits. Among the most discussed in recent years is MCT oil. With a reputation for energy-boosting properties and potential weight loss benefits, many are keen to understand what MCT oil is and whether it can genuinely aid in weight loss.
MCT stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides. These are a type of fat that is more efficiently digested and metabolised than the common long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most foods. MCTs are naturally present in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and some dairy products. However, MCT oil offers a more concentrated dose.
Unlike LCTs, MCTs are transported directly to the liver post-ingestion, skipping the standard fat digestion process. Once in the liver, they can either be used as an immediate energy source or converted into ketones. Ketones are produced when the liver breaks down fats and can be utilised as an alternative energy source by the body, particularly the brain.
There's growing interest in how MCT oil might support weight loss. Let's explore the potential mechanisms:
MCT oil, as we've established, stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides, a type of saturated fatty acid. While you can purchase concentrated MCT oil directly, there are several natural sources rich in MCTs. Here's a detailed look at some of them:
Coconut oil is perhaps the most popular and accessible source of MCTs. Roughly 50-60% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs, mainly lauric acid. Apart from MCTs, coconut oil also contains other beneficial compounds and has been a staple in many tropical countries for centuries.
Not to be confused with palm oil, palm kernel oil is derived from the seed or kernel of the fruit. It's high in MCTs, particularly capric acid and caprylic acid. However, there are sustainability and environmental concerns associated with the production of palm oil products, so it's crucial to source sustainably-produced palm kernel oil if you choose to use it.
While they might not be the first foods that come to mind when you think of MCTs, many dairy products are reasonably good sources of this type of fat. This includes:
Compared to cow's milk, goat milk has a higher proportion of MCTs. This not only makes it easier to digest for some people but also provides the benefits associated with medium-chain triglycerides.
Direct MCT oil supplements are a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides. These are often derived from coconut or palm kernel oil but are more potent. They typically contain a higher proportion of the beneficial caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) compared to natural sources.
Some prescribed medical diets, particularly those used to treat epilepsy or other neurological conditions, may incorporate MCT oil due to its potential to produce ketones, which can be beneficial in managing these conditions.
If you're intrigued by the potential weight loss benefits of MCT oil, here are some steps to integrate it into your diet:
The impact of dietary choices on blood glucose levels is a focal point for many individuals, especially those managing diabetes or metabolic syndromes. MCT oil, recognised for its unique metabolic properties, has come under scrutiny for its potential influence on blood glucose. But how exactly does MCT oil interact with blood glucose? Let’s dissect the science.
Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) that require a longer digestive process, MCTs are directly transported to the liver after ingestion. In the liver, MCTs can be converted into ketones. Ketones are molecules produced when the liver breaks down fats, which can serve as an alternative energy source for cells, including brain cells, when glucose is scarce.
Because MCTs can be rapidly converted into ketones, cells have an alternative fuel source to glucose. This may reduce the body's immediate demand for glucose, potentially stabilising blood glucose levels.
Some studies have indicated that MCTs might enhance insulin sensitivity. Improved insulin sensitivity means the body requires less insulin to transport glucose into cells. For individuals with type 2 diabetes, where insulin resistance is a concern, incorporating MCTs might be beneficial. However, it's essential to understand that research in this area is still evolving, and individual responses can vary.
As with any supplement, there could be side effects. Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort, including diarrhoea, vomiting, bloating, or cramping. It's essential to start with small amounts and see how your body reacts. If you are wanting more guidance on introducing new strategies into your diet, an Accredited Practising Dietitian can certainly help.
MCT oil offers intriguing potential for those seeking weight loss, especially when combined with a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Its unique metabolic properties might give your weight loss efforts an added boost. Always be cautious when taking supplements and consult a healthcare professional before making major changes to your diet.