Looking at the extraordinary health benefits of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), it is no surprise that they have become a part of many people’s regular lives over the past few years. However, similar to other supplements, there is a lot of confusion among people because of the spread of misinformation or merely insufficient knowledge. So, to bust these myths and reveal the absolute truth about MCTs, here’s a thorough guide regarding MCT oil, its usage, health benefits, and possible side effects. You will find practical suggestions based on medical advice about consuming MCTs to boost their overall health. But first, let’s get our basics right.
What are MCTs?
Most of the fats we consume in our diet include long-chain fatty acids (LCT)s, a bond of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. However, these are relatively bulkier and take a longer time to break down in the body to fuel liveliness. MTCs, on the other hand, are saturated fats. They are smaller carbon atom chains and are easy for digestion, providing a more immediate energy source. MCT oil is a dietary supplement coming from MCT fats, commonly found in palm kernel and coconut oil. Apart from that, it is also found in some dairy products.
How should you consume MCTs and their Dosage?
Natural MCT oil is a translucent, flavorless, and tasteless fluid that has to be consumed without cooking it in any way. It is not refined, which is why it has a relatively lower smoke point like other oils such as flaxseed, wheat germ, walnut, and so on. Due to a low smoke point, it does not respond favorably to heat. Essentially, there are several uses of MCT oils, but cooking is not one of them.
For its usage, you may add the plain oil to your daily cup of coffee, smoothie bowls, or even use it as salad dressings. It is quite effortless to add into any of the daily meals or drinks without much struggle. Talking about its portion, a single serving generally ranges from just half a tablespoon to three tablespoons. Most of the MCT oils available in the market suggest adding only half a tablespoon in the beginning so that you can get an idea about the response that your digestive system gives. You may increase the dosage slowly and steadily, as starting with three tablespoons immediately may lead to digestive distress.
An important point to keep in mind before consuming heavy dozes is that MCTs are still liquid fats. They are quite calorically dense as a single tablespoon comprises around 100 calories. Therefore, make sure that you keep your calorie count in place. You may consider your daily activity level, diet, and other aspects to determine your portion while consuming MCT oils. You may also take the help of a nutritionist who will analyze your body type and daily habits and then suggest the appropriate dose to affect your body positively.
Now that we know about MCT oils’ ideal consumption patterns let’s look at how we can benefit.
What are the benefits of consuming MCT oils?
Promotes Weight Loss
MCT oil has properties that tend to increase the discharge of two hormones- peptide YY and leptin that make you feel full for a long time, ultimately proving useful in burning body fat. A research discovered that people who consume two tablespoons of MCT oil in their regular breakfast end up having smaller meals in lunch than others. Since MCTs’ metabolic functioning is quite similar to carbohydrates, they are usually not stored as fats, which is again a plus for ensuring weight loss. Apart from that, if you wish to follow a ketogenic diet (a low carb diet), adding MCT oil to your food could greatly help you remain in the fat-burning stage, commonly known as ketosis. All in all, MTC oil does not get stored in fats, controls our appetite, and enhances our capacity to burn fat.
Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels
In a study, 24 overweight individuals were advised to consume MCT oil coupled with phytosterols and flaxseed oil for about 29 days. Later it was found that their cholesterol level had dipped by 12.5%. But when olive oil was used in the same way, the cholesterol dropped only by 4.7%. It tells us that MCT oil has properties to control cholesterol up to a great extent. Apart from that, it is also capable of managing the blood sugar level, particularly among people with diabetes. Another small study conducted with 40 people facing diabetes revealed that the ones who consumed MCT oil regularly improved their waist circumference and insulin resistance than those who consumed corn oil holding LCTs. So, it is safe to say that MCTs have great potential to improve heart health.
Excellent Source of Energy
In the past few years, MCTs have achieved massive popularity among athletes who seek an increased level of energy and enhanced endurance during intense training and tournaments. Similarly, you can also consider MCT oils to increase your energy levels in your daily workout routines. A relatively older study discovered that athletes who consumed about 6 grams or one and a half teaspoons of MCTs in their pre-exercise meals had a low level of lactates, resulting in more comfortable exercising than those who consumed LCTs. Moreover, the study also revealed that having MCT oils before your exercise proves beneficial in losing fat while keeping the carbs intake for supplying energy. Such a balance suggests that it is one of the most effective sources of energy.
Strengthens the Immune System and Fights Diseases
Coconut oil has properties like caprylic, capric, and lauric acid that reduce yeast and bacteria growth. Furthermore, it is found that MTCs themselves serve as a natural antiviral and antibiotic in several cases, which has been shown to control the spread of the infectious fungus. However, it is essential to know that most of the research on MCTs’ relation with the immune system has been conducted through either in-vitro or animal studies. There is still a need for high-quality human-based research to make firm and reliable conclusions. Apart from that, studies have confirmed that a combination of MCT oil and a ketogenic diet can improve brain functioning and help benefit severe conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, etc.
Apart from these significant health benefits, MCT can also help in the following ways:
-Improves the digestive system and gut health
-Strengthens brain health and cognitive functions
-Develops the metabolism rate of the body
-Regulates the body’s pH level
-Ensures a better absorption of nutrients
-Lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
-Increases longevity, etc.
Along with the benefits, you should also know about specific risks and considerations before starting these oils’ consumption.
What are the Possible Side-Effects of MCT Oils?
Not many serious side-effects have been reported regarding the consumption of MCT oils. However, some of the most commonly encountered problems in some cases include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and other gut-related issues. Luckily, none of these side effects are persistent, and they all can be avoided by keeping a couple of points in mind.
As mentioned previously in this write-up, start with a small dose of MCT oil and examine your body’s response to it. A single dose of 1 to 1.5 teaspoons is enough to sense some of the benefits of MCT oil and, at the same time, estimate your tolerance level. If you notice that no side effects are caused after the dose, you can slowly shift to a more generous dose. In this way, you can increase it, one teaspoon a day until you reach the capacity of 4 teaspoons without facing any side effects. Likewise, you can determine a fixed amount as per your requirement.
However, if you notice that your body is too sensitive to the oil, you may try the MCT oil powder, which also offers similar health benefits and will be more comfortable on your stomach.
Supplements are growing tremendously popular these days as people have started prioritizing their health and well-being. Similar to other supplements, MCT has a great potential to improve the body’s overall health, and getting it from MCT oils is one of the most beneficial ways, as mentioned throughout the write-up. However, you need to keep track of your body’s response for the first week to land a fixed amount. Daily consumption of these health boosters coupled with regular exercise and a nutritionally sound diet will undoubtedly help you achieve most of your health goals while also keeping major illnesses at bay. So, what are you waiting for?