MCT oil has been increasing in popularity over the last few years, however few really know the function and purpose of these supplements. Now that there are many companies coming out with their own version of this product, it is important for you to become educated so you can choose the right product for you!
What is MCT Oil?
MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride. The fat that we consume and the fat stored in our body are known as fatty acids. While fatty acids can vary by degree of saturation (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated), they can also be classified by molecular structure. Fatty acids are composed of carbon atoms and those containing between 6-12 carbon atoms are considered medium chain while fewer than 6 carbons are considered short chain fatty acids and greater than 12 are considered long-chain fatty acids. Medium chain triglycerides in the form of oil are known as MCT oil.
One of the benefits of MCTs are their digestibility. Long chain fatty acid digestion involves a rather complex slow process that involved pancreatic enzymes and lymphatic system transportation. MCTs, due to their shorter carbon chain length, are able to be rapidly digested without the help of pancreatic enzymes and lymphatic system transportation. This method of metabolism allows for MCTs to become rapidly metabolized for energy with a small chance of being stored as fat.
Benefits of MCTs
As mentioned previously, MCTs are a great source of energy for our bodies to run on, but there are other benefits to consuming MCTs.
Increased Exercise Performance
MCTs have been shown to be a beneficial fuel source for athletes. This is not only because of their ability to be rapidly converted to energy but also because studies are showing that MCTs can help preserve carbohydrate stores in our body which allows for greater exercise capacity.
Due to the rapid digestion of MCTs, they can be converted to ketones in the liver. Ketones are small molecules that can act as a fuel source for many different areas of the body, especially the brain.
One of the popular uses for MCTs is for improved mental clarity. As mentioned earlier, MCTs can be converted to ketones in the liver and ketones are a preferred fuel source of the brain allowing for cognitive benefits.
MCT oil is often touted as being a weight loss aid. There is a lot of mixed research on this but there is a very promising proposed mechanism in which MCTs could impact body composition. Research has shown that MCTs can increase energy expenditure. Also, MCTS has been found to improve satiety which leads to decreases in energy intake (calorie intake). These two factors together allow for an energy imbalance that could lead to weight loss!
MCTs are also being used in the treatment of many different diseases such as:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
Are There Different Types of MCTs?
Yes, remember that MCTs are fatty acids with carbon chain lengths between 6-12.
- 6 Carbon Atoms- Caproic Acid
- 8 Carbon Atoms- Caprylic Acid
- 10 Carbon Atoms- Capric Acid
- 12 Carbon Atoms- Lauric Acid
The shorter the chain length, the more rapid the digestibility of the fatty acid. Lauric Acid, or C-12, is technically considered a mix of a medium and long chain fatty acid. This is because it possesses characteristics of both types of fatty acids.
Where are MCTs Found?
MCTs are found in both whole food and supplemental form.
Foods Containing MCTs
- Coconut Oil
- Palm Kernel Oil
- MCT Oil
- MCT Powder
The main difference between MCT foods and supplements is the amount and type of the different MCTs in each. For instance, whole food sources of MCTs are more likely to contain C-12 or Lauric Acid, while MCT oil is typically comprised entirely of C8 and C10.
Is One Better Than The Other?
If your goal is to simply increase your healthy fat intake than it is likely that whole foods like coconut oil will do just fine. Especially since these products add additional nutritional benefits such as their micronutrients or antimicrobial properties
If your primary goal is to increase ketone production than looking at an MCT supplement is likely a better option. Increasing ketone production would be beneficial for those following the ketogenic diet, looking for a cognitive benefit, or trying to manage diseases like epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s The Difference Between Brain Octane and MCT Oil?
Back to the main question of this article, what is the difference between Brain Octane and MCT Oil? The difference lies within the fatty acid makeup of each. MCT oil is derived from hydrolyzing coconut oil to extract C8 and C10 MCTs. Brain Octane contains a purified version of C8 or caprylic acid. Since Brain Octane contains a greater portion of the even shorter MCT C8, it has been shown to elicit greater ketone production. This means that if any of your goals would benefit from increased ketone levels, then a product like Brain Octane may be even better suited for you.
Regardless of the goal, it is likely that anyone would benefit from the consumption of MCTs in some form. In fact, research has established that the consumption of MCTs is not only beneficial but also safe, even in higher doses. While they may seem like a novel product, MCTs have been around for a long time and have been used in the hospital setting for treating those suffering from malnourishment. As the state of ketosis increases in popularity, it is likely that you will be seeing more and more of these products coming to market. For this reason, it is important to do your homework and establish your reason for taking MCTs so you can choose the right product for you.
|Parting Tip: Due to the rapid digestibility of MCTS, high amounts can lead to digestive distress in the most unpleasant of ways. Be sure to assess your tolerance and then titrate your intake up accordingly.|