MCT Oil And MCT Oil Benefits


Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are one of the most bioavailable sources of energy.  In other words, your body can digest and absorb MCTs better than the vast majority of foods, even for people with gastrointestinal disorders. And on the ketogenic diet, MCT oil is a source of fat that can quickly boost energy levels by effectively increasing ketone production, as well as promote fat loss. Unlike other fatty acids, MCTs are extremely unlikely to be stored as body fat. Here’s your guide to MCT oil benefits and how to use them.

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT oil refers to fatty acids extracted from coconut oil (the most common source) or palm kernel oil.

They’re best-known for being quickly absorbed by your body and metabolized into energy in the liver, where they elevate ketone production. 

MCTs are considered the most efficient dietary fats in terms of energy production because, unlike other fats, they absorb directly through the portal vein in your GI tract, without needing to be broken down by pancreatic enzymes.

The 4 Different Types of MCTs

There are 4 different types of naturally-occurring medium-chain triglycerides found in food. 

As the name suggests, MCTs are classified according to the length of their carbon chain.

The length of individual MCTs and their concentration in foods is what determines their effects.

#1: Caproic Acid (C6)

Caproic acid (also called C6, because its carbon backbone is 6 atoms long) is the shortest MCT molecule and also the rarest in foods. 

This type of fatty acid makes less than 1% of MCTs in natural virgin coconut oil and is also the quickest to be converted into ketones.

#2: Caprylic Acid (C8)

Caprylic acid (or C8, as it’s called due to its 8-carbon-long chain structure) accounts for just under 12%% of the MCTs in natural virgin coconut oil.

Compared to pure coconut oil, C8 is nearly 4 times more effective at raising your body’s ketone production.

This is the most efficient fatty acid after caproic acid because it efficiently and rapidly converts into ketones in your liver. 

That’s the reason why caprylic acid is the main fatty acid present in MCT oil supplements.

#3: Capric Acid (C10)

Capric acid (C10) has a carbon chain structure that’s 10 atoms long. 

It’s a little slower and less efficient than pure caprylic acid as far as ketone production.

C10 makes up around 9% of the MCTs in natural virgin coconut oil, and many high-quality MCT oil supplements contain capric acid.

#4: Lauric Acid (C12)

Lauric acid (C12) is the longest MCT, with a carbon chain 12 atoms in length. (Longer fatty acids over 12 carbons–omega-3s in fish oil, for instance–are referred to as long-chain triglycerides, LCTs for short.)

This fatty acid makes up 70% of all MCTs in natural virgin coconut oil. But compared to C6, C8, and C10,  lauric acid has a slower metabolization process.

Lauric acid still has health benefits, but it’s relatively ineffective at raising your ketone levels. As a result, many high-quality MCT supplements do not contain any C12.

8 MCT Oil Benefits

1. Supports healthy weight loss

  • Medium-chain triglycerides encourage your body to use fat as fuel, which is the key to healthy weight loss. In one study, a group receiving MCTs instead of long-chain triglycerides lost nearly twice as much body fat.

2. Supports cognitive health

  • Your brain uses more energy than any other organ in your body, and MCTs are a highly efficient form of brain fuel. Numerous studies show cognitive benefits, particularly for older people. However, MCTs may promote brain health at every age thanks to the beneficial effects of ketosis.

3. Supports ketosis

  • Because they are rapidly metabolized by your liver, MCTs raise your ketone levels quickly and reduce the time it takes to achieve a state of ketosis. A related benefit: MCT oil can reduce symptoms of keto flu.

4. Increases exercise performance

  • Energy is vital for physical activity, and studies suggest MCTs can increase exercise performance, especially during endurance training, by fueling your muscles and increasing the number of mitochondria (powerhouses of the cell).

5. May help manage diabetes

  • Early evidence suggests MCT supplements are well-tolerated in people with type 2 diabetes, and may increase insulin sensitivity and pancreatic beta cell function. Other research suggests that in patients with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) due to type 1 diabetes, MCT oil can help preserve brain function.

6. May help prevent heart disease

  • A 2019 study found that MCT oil decreased insulin sensitivity in healthy people, which could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

7. May support gut health

  • According to a 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, “MCT-enriched diets could…be used to manage metabolic diseases through modification of gut microbiota,” or in other words, MCTs may improve “metabolic health via their capacity to improve both intestinal ecosystem and permeability”.

8. Helps prevent cravings and keeps you satisfied

  • All healthy fats can potentially suppress your appetite during fat loss, but MCTs appear to go the extra mile. A 2019 study found that compared to long-chain fatty acids, medium-chain triglycerides reduced calorie intake at subsequent meals and increased satiety (feelings of fullness) more.

How to Use MCT Oil

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering adding MCT oil to your diet.


Research studies show that a wide range of MCT dosages are effective. 

People in clinical trials sometimes take up to 56 grams per day, or over 25% of calories from MCTs.

A more common dose is a tablespoon (about 15 grams), once or more each day.

If you’re new to MCT oil, you may want to start off slowly, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. . Begin with a teaspoon per dose, once or more each day, and increase your intake over a period of 1-2 weeks to get your body accustomed.

Once your body acclimates to MCTs, you can then increase to a tablespoon several times per day and enjoy the MCT oil benefits. 

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