MCTs can provide a number of health and medical benefits.
We’ve already briefly explained one of the major benefits of consuming MCT oil: it can immediately be used by the liver, instead of being stored as fat. But in order to unpack that a little more, we have to talk about dieting.
MCT Oil, Ketones, and the Keto Diet
MCT oil is commonly used by people following the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (and the paleo diet as well).
One of the best ways to lose weight is to force the body to burn stored body fat, but that’s awfully hard to do when you’re eating carbohydrates. Most carbs contain LCTs which are either broken down into glucose (blood sugar) to be used by the body as fuel, or stored as additional body fat. So, by eliminating most carbs from the diet, less LCTs are available to be stored as fat. That’s the keto diet approach, substituting healthy fats for most of the carbohydrates you’d normally eat.
Without carbs, though, the body and brain don’t have the glucose they normally use for energy. They have to use an alternate fuel, which is produced by the liver in the form of molecules called ketones. Ketone production begins in earnest when the body is forced into a metabolic state known as ketosis – and that only happens when it doesn’t have enough carbs to make glucose. You should be getting the picture: the keto diet is designed to put the body into ketosis.
When it’s in ketosis, the body burns stored fat, leading to weight loss. Meanwhile, the liver turns that burned fat into ketones, to be used as replacement fuel for the body. That’s where MCT oil comes in: most of the fatty acids in MCTs can also be quickly broken down into ketones by the liver. Those additional ketones boost a keto dieter’s energy levels. They also make it easier to keep the body in ketosis, so it can continue to burn stored body fat and you can lose more weight.
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Now you know the benefits of consuming MCT oil on a keto eating plan. And as you’d probably guess, one of the best ways to do that is by putting it into your coffee. We’ll look at so-called keto coffee shortly.
There are many other reasons to drink coffee with added MCT oil, however, even if you’re not on keto.
Health Benefits of MCT Oil
In most cases, the benefits of dietary supplements are apparent from research studies, rather than proven and accepted by the medical community. That’s certainly true for MCT oil’s benefits, but the evidence in favor of MCTs continues to grow rapidly.
Most of the reported benefits are related to weight loss.
- Some research simply draws the conclusion that MCT consumption is associated with the loss of weight in obese and overweight study participants.
- Numerous studies have shown that use of MCT oil is linked to fat burning and moderate weight loss, far outperforming long-chain triglycerides.
- Similar research has demonstrated the potential of MCT oil to help the body reduce insulin resistance and inflammation, which are both factors in the development or worsening of type 2 diabetes. It may also help diabetics to metabolize and use glucose.
- It appears that one of the fatty acids in MCT oil, caprylic acid, helps to modulate ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. In other words, MCTs can apparently reduce food cravings.
- Studies show that MCTs appear to provide an energy boost by reducing lactate buildup, a key obstacle to performance during athletic workouts.
- Research has shown that medium-chain triglycerides provide antibacterial and antifungal effects, able to slow the growth of the Candida fungus responsible for genital yeast infections, and fight the bacteria C. difficile responsible for antibiotic-resistant diarrhea and colitis.
- A number of studies have shown that MCT oil seems to improve cognitive function and mental clarity in patients suffering from a number of conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, and those on the autism scale. There’s also some evidence that it can help reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy.
- Finally, it appears that MCTs may be able to help boost “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels while reducing “bad” cholesterol (LDL). That provides a number of benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease.
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Some of those benefits are associated with the use of MCT oil in conjunction with a keto diet, yet there are strong implications that medium-chain triglycerides are largely responsible for the positive health and wellness benefits that ketogenic dieters experience.
Ready to give it a try?