You might know MCT oil as that "weird clear oil" you've maybe seen people swigging straight out of the bottle at the gym (yep!) or blending into their morning coffee or smoothies (tried it — no, thanks), but if you have no idea what it actually is, we're here to explain. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is metabolized by the body more quickly than other fats — which is why many have come to believe MCT can help with weight loss.
We talked to Samantha Presicci, a registered dietitian with Snap Kitchen, to learn more about how MCT oil differs from the other trendy oil, coconut, and how to add MCT oil to your daily routine.
What's the Difference Between MCT Oil and Coconut Oil?
While MCT oil typically comes from coconut oil, MCT is pure medium chain triglycerides derived from coconut (or sometimes palm) oil and nothing else. "Coconut oil is 55 percent MCTs, while MCT oil is 100 percent MCTs. MCT oil is a byproduct of coconut oil and only contains two of the four medium-chain fatty acids that coconut oil does (caprylic and capric acid)," Presicci told POPSUGAR.
What's the Benefit of MCT Oil?
MCT oil is popular on the keto diet, thanks to it being a "good fat" for the body. Presicci said it's commonly used in smoothies and salad dressing, or made into the well-known bulletproof coffee because it can help you burn fat and feel full longer. Medium chain triglycerides are metabolized quickly by the liver, so they're used as fuel before being stored as fat.
While typically MCT oil is used by people looking to staunch their hunger in an effort to lose weight, it's also used by people whose bodies struggle to digest other forms of fats and can aid with digestive issues like diarrhea. Presicci also noted that MCT oil is believed to help boost brain function, though fewer studies have been done on that topic. It's possible that because the MCTs break down so quickly and therefore potentially enter your system more quickly, they energize your body, even becoming ketones and making their way to your brain.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Using MCT Oil?
Presicci pointed out that, like with anything dietary, it's never good to have too much MCT oil. "If you aren't used to consuming MCT oil and you use too much to start, you may notice gastrointestinal distress," she told POPSUGAR. She recommends you start with 1 teaspoon or even less, so as to not upset your stomach and to watch how much you're consuming daily — after all, it is still a fat.
And as always, when you're changing up your diet, it never hurts to check with your doctor or a dietitian to make sure you're going about it in the best, healthy way. If you're ready to give MCT oil a try, we suggest you start with this Sports Research MCT Oil ($27), derived from coconuts.