If you’re wondering how MCT oil can help your keto diet, you’re in the right place. MCT is short for medium chain triglycerides which are special fats that bypass normal digestion and quickly convert to ketones. They also have antimicrobial, antiviral, and immune system boosting properties. MCT oil is great for the keto diet because it promotes ketosis, curbs hunger, reduces sugar cravings, enhances mental clarity, and can help accelerate weight loss.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT oil is a concentrated source of a particular type of fatty acid known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The three main types of MCT found in MCT oil are caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. These MCT types are also referred to as C8, C10, and C12 respectively with the “C” standing for the element carbon and the numbers 8, 10, and 12 representing how many carbon atoms are in the MCT molecule’s “tail”.
MCTs are naturally found in a variety of foods and are even present in mothers’ milk, but commercial MCT oil is typically extracted from palm kernel or coconut oil.
Unlike regular fats that must first go into storage (i.e. your body’s fat cells) before being turned into ketones, MCTs skip the storage phase entirely. When you consume MCT oil, the MCTs go right to your liver where they are converted into ketones. The ketones then travel through your bloodstream providing clean-burning fuel for your brain, muscles, heart, and more.
MCT Oil Benefits for Keto Dieters
Adding MCT Oil to your keto diet can help you to get better results and may improve your health in a variety of ways:
- Faster Weight Loss – MCT oil can help accelerate fat loss by reducing hunger, increasing metabolic rate, and promoting “good” gut bacteria. Due to their unique properties, MCTs also have a lower “net” caloric value than other fats. While most fats provide 9 calories per gram, because of the way MCTs are metabolized, they have an actual caloric value of ~7 calories per gram.
- Increased Energy Levels – MCTs increase energy levels by rapidly converting to ketones with are an ideal source of energy (ATP) for your cells. Studies also suggest that the regular consumption of MCTs triggers “mitochondrial biogenesis”, which means that you’ll actually grow more mitochondria, which are the “engines” that power your cells.
- Improved Brain Health – MCTs can support brain health by decreasing the brain’s reliance on sugar (glucose) which may lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment, epilepsy, and autism. Even if you’re not suffering from brain-related diseases, MCTs can still help improve mental clarity and focus by fueling your brain with ketones.
- Enhanced Immune Function – MCTs support the immune system by fighting off bacteria (even drug-resistant strains), viral, and fungal infections. These benefits are largely due to lauric acid (C12) as it is converted into monolaurin in the body. Fun fact: Monolaurin is the main antiviral and antibacterial compound found in mother’s milk!
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
You might be wondering why you should use MCT oil when MCTs are found in regular coconut oil. The reasons why I recommend using MCT oil specifically, are:
- You have to take twice as much (or more) coconut oil to get the same amount of MCTs – Regular coconut oil contains about 50% MCTs and 50% LCTs (long chain triglycerides). This means that you need double the amount of coconut oil (and double the calories) to get the same benefits.
- Coconut oil is harder to digest – Because MCTs bypass normal digestion, your body does not need to produce bile in order to digest them. This is especially important for individuals who don’t have a gall bladder (which is the organ that produces bile) or who have digestive malabsorption issues (difficulty absorbing nutrients).
- MCT oil is better at reducing hunger – In a study that compared the hunger-fighting effects of coconut oil, MCT oil, and regular vegetable oil, it was shown that MCT oil resulted in greater feelings of fullness and satiety when compared to the other oils.
- MCT oil is more convenient – Unlike coconut oil, MCT oil is liquid at room temperature. This means that it doesn’t have to be melted before being used in recipes, is easier to transport, and can be poured into and over foods for a boost of ketogenic fats. You can even take a liquid shot of MCT oil whenever you need an energy boost!
What to Look for in MCT Oil
Now that you know what MCTs are and what they can do for you, here’s what you should look out for when buying an MCT Oil:
- No hidden carbs or other non-keto additives – Some MCT oil products contain hidden ingredients that you should avoid on a keto diet. Examples of things to look out for are corn fiber (common in powdered MCT products), artificial flavors (common in flavored MCT products), and cane sugar (common in sweetened MCT oil products). Third-party certifications like The Paleo Foundation’s Keto Certified program also provide an additional guarantee that the product you purchased has no hidden ingredients that could knock you out of ketosis.
- Packaged in glass or BPA-free, non-leaching plastic – The unique structure of MCTs make them a nutritional powerhouse, but it also makes them really good at breaking down plastic. If you’ve ever tried to pour an MCT-containing coffee into a Styrofoam cup, you may have seen this in action! (Note: Don’t actually try this! The Styrofoam cup can literally melt in your hand causing severe burns.) The estrogen-like compounds in plastic can cause negative health effects so make sure you always buy MCT oil packaged in glass or BPA-free plastic bottles.
- Third-Party Lab Tested – If we lived in an honest world, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the fact of the matter is that many supplement manufacturers incorrectly label or misrepresent what’s in their products. Third-party lab testing ensures that you are getting exactly what you want, and nothing that you don’t. This information should be publicly available or quickly provided when requested from brands that you can trust. Things to look out for in the testing data is the specific MCT breakdown (i.e. exactly how much C8, C10, and C12 is in your MCT oil), heavy metal content (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury), and microbial activity (yeast/mold, salmonella, e. coli, and staph).
- Made from 100% coconut oil, not palm oil – Even though palm oil is rich in MCTs, palm oil plantations are responsible for widespread deforestation in Southeast Asia and account for ~10% of all deforestation worldwide. The burning and clear-cutting of native forests for palm oil production also displaces indigenous peoples and threatens endangered species like the orangutan. To ensure that your MCT oil is made from coconuts, check the ingredients label which should specifically say “MCT Oil from coconuts”.
The Best MCT Oil for Keto
My favorite brand of MCT oil is Natural Force. All of their MCT oil products are made with clean, Keto certified ingredients, are packaged in glass or BPA-free recycled plastic, are third-party lab tested, and are made from 100% sustainably sourced, non-GMO coconut oil. No palm oil ever! I also love their commitment to delivering world-class customer service and high-quality educational information.
Natural Force Pure C8 Keto MCT Oil
My take: C8 MCTs are almost instantly converted into ketones, making pure C8 MCT oil the most powerful, natural way to boost ketone production. You can actually feel this MCT oil working when you take it and you will experience and immediate energy boost, enhanced focus, and reduced hunger. It also comes in a HUGE 32oz bottle so you will be stocked up for quite some time!
MCT profile: 100% pure C8 MCTs from Project Non-GMO coconuts (13g per tbsp).
Macros: 14g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein, 125 calories per 1 tbsp serving
Certifications: Keto Certified, Certified Paleo, Vegan Certified, and Kosher
Natural Force Organic MCT Oil
My take: This is a great all-purpose MCT oil that can be used for blended drinks like Bulletproof coffee and as a ketogenic alternative to unhealthy vegetable oils in cooking/baking recipes.
MCT profile: Contains C8, C10, and C12 MCTs from organic coconuts (6.5g, 4.5g, and 1.3g respectively per tbsp).
Macros: 14g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein, 125 calories per 1 tbsp serving
Certifications: Keto Certified, Paleo Certified, Vegan Certified, USDA Organic, Project Non-GMO Verified, and Kosher
Natural Force Keto Coffee Creamer
My take: This isn’t your grandma’s coffee creamer! Keto Coffee Creamer contains a hefty dose of emulsified C8/C10 MCT oil which means that it is both highly ketogenic and very convenient to use. Adding Keto Coffee Creamer to coffee, tea, or my personal favorite, sparkling water, doesn’t require a blender so you can simply stir it in whenever you want an instant shot of MCT fuel.
MCT profile: Contains emulsified C8 and C10 MCTs from organic coconuts (3.7g and 2.7g respectively per tbsp).
Macros: 7.4g fat, <1g carbs, 0g net carbs, 0g protein, 70 calories per 1 tbsp serving
Flavors: Vanilla, Caramel, Chocolate, and Hazelnut
Certifications: Keto Certified, Paleo-friendly Certified, Vegan Certified, and Kosher
Note: Purchasing products through my links may earn me a portion of the sale, which supports the Keto Elite team’s mission.