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This Food is Like Rocket Fuel for Your Brain and Metabolism

I hate hype. You can go through my past headlines and you’ll clearly see that I’m not a sensationalist. In fact, it’s the hype and sensationalism that turn me off from reading most magazines.

So why did a write a headline like this? Because it’s true. And that’s the problem with magazines — everything is hype, whether it’s useful or completely useless. That’s cognitively disappointing.

So with that said, let’s get back on track. What’s this food I’m talking about? It’s actually not a food, it’s a derivative of food; an extract, if you will.

And no, it doesn’t come from some far away mountain range, procured by indigenous people with great care and shipped to you for $14.95. Well, it does come from the Amazon — if you choose to buy it online with super saver shipping (bad joke, sorry).

Okay, let’s get serious. This food I’m talking about is a concentrated fat called MCT oil. And it offers some unique advantages for both cooking and consumption. There’s absolutely nothing mystical about it, it just freakin’ works.

So what is MCT oil? You can think of it as a concentrated form of coconut oil. The extremely healthy saturated fat in coconut is comprised of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). And MCT oil is a concentrated form of that fat (about 6x stronger than eating coconut oil).

The reason I’m so interested in MCT oil is two fold: it’s uniquely metabolized and it’s easily digested.

The unique metabolization of MCTs and other benefits

Instead of being metabolized through the digestion process like other fats are, MCTs are taken straight to the liver where they act very similar to carbohydrates, providing instant — and well sustained — energy. 

If you want to feel the effects of this for yourself, put a tablespoon of MCTs in your coffee — or really go for it all and make bulletproof coffee (or tea). Seriously, this an effect you WILL feel — and it feels like you gave your body rocket fuel.

But it’s not just the energy you get that’s interesting. MCTs improve blood sugar regulation (yay!), improve metabolism (especially fat metabolism), may improve thyroid function, improve appetite regulation, and are used to treat many ailments (Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, seizures, cystic fibrosis, etc.).

As far as brain function goes, MCT oil is like rocket fuel because it enhances ketone production. Ketones, of course, are a more efficient fuel for your brain. For productivity, using MCTs to outwork my competition is my unfair advantage.

That’s a pretty compelling list — and it’s why MCT oil (or coconut oil at a minimum) is prioritized in how I eat. (And it’s probably why breast milk contains a lot of MCTs and — shocker — saturated fat).

Of course, a side effect of all of that is improved body composition. If you’re into burning fat, MCTs are your friend.

The digestion of MCTs

The body is very efficient at metabolizing and digesting MCTs. They don’t require bile salts for digestion and they pass easily from the GI tract to the blood stream without being modified the way long-chain fats must be.

If your body has trouble digesting long-chain fats, you should definitely be adding MCTs to your diet. 

The reason something like bulletproof coffee works so well for energy — especially sustained energy — is that it combines MCTs with longer chain fats. This gives you the rocket boost up front with a sustained, diesel-fuel-like energy that lasts for hours on end.

How to use MCT Oil in day to day life

Getting MCTs in your diet is simple. For starters, you should be using coconut oil for something on a day to day basis, whether you’re cooking with it, putting it in a smoothie, or eating it with a spoon.

Beyond that, I highly recommend you supplement with pure MCT oil (I personally use Onnit brand MCT Oil). You can cook with the oil itself (or add it to the oil/fat you’re already cooking with (as long as temperature stays under 320 degrees)). You can put it straight into your smoothie, coffee, or tea (as I do). And you can use it in your salad dressing or soups.

You do need to start out slow. Until your body gets used to the straight dose, taking too much at once can cause you to experience digestive disturbances (“disaster pants” as Kelly Starrett calls it). Start out with one tablespoon at a time and then you can increase to two or three.

Try it and let me know what you think — and let me know what it does for your productivity, satiety, and body composition after 30 days.

Kevin Geary

Kevin Geary is the founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. He helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.

All stories by: Kevin Geary
55 comments
  • Amanda

    Would sauteeing vegetables get over 320? This is my go to option for veggies. I have an electric stove, use a cast iron pan, and have it on medium heat, which is enough to get them sizzling. I don’t even know how I’d check the temperature on this. Thanks!

  • Wenchypoo

    If your body has trouble digesting long-chain fats, you should definitely be adding MCTs to your diet.

    How does one tell if there’s trouble digesting long-chain fats–would it show up in toilet, or on the NMR?

  • Ebony White

    I use the MCT oil by NOW. It doesnt make me feel any different except if i take more than one tablespoon at a time it makes me nauseous with a terrible stomach ache nearly to the point of throwing up, so it is indeed potent powerful stuff. I do feel it is a great thermogenic for me. I like to take it before i go to bed. I wish it did give me a little boost.

  • Robert Pait

    2nd question, Because of the ketone production I’ve read that diabetics shouldnt use it, however I have also read that its used to treat diabeties…..so I am a bit confused.

      • Robert Pait

        “In addition, regular intake of medium chain triglycerides may lead to the buildup of ketones (compounds produced when the body burns fat for energy). Since the accumulation of ketones can be harmful to people with diabetes, it’s important for diabetes patients to seek medical advice before increasing their intake of medium chain triglycerides.”-Kathy Wong ND http://altmedicine.about.com/od/weight_Loss/a/Medium-Chain-Triglycerides.htm

        So I am doing some bicycling, 20 miles a shot and I thought that the mct oil would be better than the banana etc that I would normally eat. I am type 2 diabetic. It seems like if I only eat the mct oil prior to this ride I should be fine. What do you think? (Im a overweight bicyclist doing this for exercise, I go 20 miles in 1.5 hours)

        • Robert

          Robert, you are correct, MCTs are not recommended for those with type I diabetes as they battle to process ketones and a build up such as can be caused as a result of MCTs can be dangerous to them.

          Unfortunately most high grade MCTs come from Palm Kernel oil not coconut oil as C8:0 and C10:0, which are the MCTS you want, only make up 13% of these oils and coconut oil would work out far too expensive to use given the low yields.

          • Kevin Geary

            I’m not a doctor, but there’s nothing I can find that shows it’s dangerous. In fact, I’ve found multiple research papers that say it’s beneficial for Type II diabetics. For Type I, I haven’t found anything concrete either way.

      • Cindy Addington

        My trainer suggested that I take MCT and after two weeks, I have noticed I am not hungry, have energy and no known stomach issues.

        I also read on WebMD under side effects “Diabetes: MCTs can cause certain chemicals called ketones to build up in the body. This can be a problem for people with diabetes. Avoid using MCTs if you have diabetes” This statement confused me as well, my trainer told me that it would help stabilize my sugar levels and it was good for weight loss since it didn’t store in the fat but goes straight to the liver to be used as energy. (PS I could be off a little, that is what I remembered).

  • Debbie

    I have the really bad dense hereditary cholesterol particles and am pre diabetic, I refuse to take statins so my doctor suggested the paleo diet which I have been on for about 6 weeks, feel better and have lost 13 pounds. Some of my friends eating paleo take mct oil. Do you know if it would benefit my cholesterol or make it worse?

  • Joan mccurdy

    I am an a positive was taking cocoanut oil but having problems and today started mct oil so far no problems and yes I am a diabetic type 2 have lost 65 pds in 8months want to continue to do so

  • Dawn Parker

    I tried MCT oil in my Bulletproof coffee for the first time today. I added 1 tablespoon. I drank 2 cups of coffee, and found that I wasn’t feeling right. I got to work and I was shaky, and I felt dizzy and disconnected. Could this be because my body isn’t used to it and I should use less?

  • Dawn Parker

    Yes, Kevin, I did drink the same amount. I do like my coffee very strong. Maybe I will put 1 tsp of the MCT oil in the coffee rather than a full tablespoon. Thanks.

  • Tyrannocaster

    I have seen absolutely no effects with NOW MCT oil; bad or good. No runs to the bathroom, but no energy boost at all, no fat-burning weight loss. There may be subtle long term effects that I am not aware of, but it has been a disappointment so far; and it hasn’t worked once when I’ve tried to make mayonnaise with it, unlike olive oil, which always seems to work for me.

    I wonder if this is another ingredient that only makes a difference if you already have enough oil (or whatever) in your system from your diet. But that doesn’t apply to the mayo, and it was one reason I was interested in it, as MCT oil is neutral tasting and I don’t like the way extra virgin olive oil tastes in mayo.

  • Stephanie P

    I am on a balanced (clean) diet and have started working out (Lifting) regularly and would like to add MCT oil back into my diet to assist with Energy and fat burning; however, I do have some complex & simple carbs in my diet …will MCT oil still produce the Ketogenic properties with a net carb intake between 50-70g a day? I know that I will not be in ketosis, but will I still briefly produce ketones when taking MCT oil? Or is the weight loss benefit of MCT oil limited to low carb & ketogenic dieters?

    • Kevin Geary

      MCTs have benefits outside of being in the metabolic state of Ketosis. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the question can’t really be parsed because they’re different for everyone and dependent on many confounding variables.

    • Aaron

      This was my question too. I have been drinking non-bulletproof brand bulletproof coffee (kerrygold, MCT oil from NOW, organic beans from either Trader Joe’s or my local health food store) as my sole breakfast for about two months now. I usually will eat again at noon, but I am typically hungry before that. I am trying to mentally distinguish between feeling physical hunger and just wanting to eat because food looks good. At any rate, in the past few months I’ve only lost a handful of pounds, in conjunction with my beachbody workouts, about the same level of weight-loss I was experiencing before only drinking bulletproof coffee. I am, however, eating almost twice as much fat in my daily intake than I was before, mostly from healthy MCT sources: coconuts, organic meats, organic dairy. Grass fed sources when I can. So if the MCT oil is doing nothing more than allowing me to have a yummy diet while calorie counting (I hate all that low-fat diet marketing) then it’s a plus! So what I’m wondering is this: if I start having breakfast with my morning MCT oil, particularly a protein shake since my workout is in the morning, will I lose those benefits of ketone production?

      Thanks for the great post!

  • Natalie

    Hello: I am taking l glut amine, probiotics and fermented cod liver oil to help fix a “leaky gut”. Does anyone know if this is ok to add to my supplements while healing (any interferences etc…) I would be taking it with tea. I was hoping it would help with energy for my workoutd(boxing 4x week) and losing 10lbs that will NOT budge!:) (I’m 37 5’3″ and 124lbs)

  • Teri

    I took 1Tablespoon MCT upgraded oil this morning in my coffee for the first time. I felt so sick I couldn’t move for a couple hours. No bathroom or vomiting issues. Just pain and weak. It’s been 4 hours now and I’m up and moving but still feel weakness and pain. I have not experienced any energy. Any suggestion would be appreciated. The reason for trying mct is I’m looking for increased energy .

  • Jessica

    I’ve been drinking bulletproof coffee w upgraded self mct oil (1 tbsp) and 1 tbsp of kerrygold butter every morning at about 4:30am before I workout. I have had the best runs since drinking it! My question is- after my workout (cardio & weightlifting) I feel like I need a protein shake. Will that ruin the effects? Also, what should I stay away from to get the best results from the mct oil, aside from simple carbs, processed foods, and sugars of course….thanks for the great post, too 🙂

  • Bee

    Is it safe to take MCT Oil if you have a heart condition? Will MCT Oil help heart

    Pls advise, as I am considering taking, because since taking heart Meds my weight is increasing. looking for something safe.

    Thank you,

  • shubham toshniwal

    Dear sir,
    How to avoid ketone by taking coconut oil? I have been suffering from diabetic type 1 since 1997.my weight is only 37 kg.i want to gain weight without ketone by taking coconut oil, now I have been insuline resistence that is 1000 units a day from 2012.i am still struggling… can I take coconut oil with other foods so that avoid ketone?.anyone has experiance this? Plz replay me as soon as

  • TJ

    Kevin,

    Since MCT oil is processed, is there a brand that stands out above others? I’m a fan of Onnit products and I know they provide MCT oil so I was looking to try it.

  • Lynn

    I listen to Dr Drew and he is a big fan of MCT oil. I bought some and I am trying it…I have noticed NO difference…except I have a hard time choking it down…plus it’s 100 calories…worth it? How long do I continue before I feel/see results? What I am looking for is the feeling of not craving food and feeling satisfied with the eating clean diet I am trying to follow…

  • Ian

    Kevin, what brand of MCT Oil do you use?
    thanks,,

    (I’m just starting out on Now MCT Oil, and find that I can tablespoon this straight in unlike coconut oil which tastes very rich and fatty going down and makes me wince.)

Comments are closed.

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This Food is Like Rocket Fuel for Your Brain and Metabolism