MCT oil is hot right now. Everyone wants to know what it is, what it does, and where they can get some. Let’s take a closer look at MCT oil and try to separate fact from fiction so you can use MCT oil properly without falling victim to some of the dogma.

I first heard about MCT when the bulletproof coffee craze was taking effect.

“What is this new coffee recipe? Wait, people are putting butter in their coffee? Wait, they’re putting some sort of oil in their coffee on top of that?”

That was my basic thought process.

Then I tried it and felt the effects. It was no joke. Of course, most of the “effect” you feel from bulletproof coffee comes from the MCT oil, so I want to do a complete breakdown on this hot topic and get you up to speed.

Don’t leave without grabbing our free MCT Oil cheat sheet! Click here grab it.

What is MCT Oil (not “MTC” oil)?

You can think of MCT oil as a concentrated form of coconut oil. The extremely healthy saturated fat in coconut is comprised of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT).

MCT oil is a concentrated form of that fat. It ends up being anywhere from four to six times stronger than eating straight coconut oil.

The reason I’m so interested in MCT oil is two-fold: it’s uniquely metabolized and it’s easily digested. I’ll take a look at these two benefits later. First, let’s talk about two specific types of MCTs that are found in coconut oil and founder in greater concentration in retail MCT oils.

Caproic Acid

Caproic Acid isn’t found in very high concentrations in coconut oil, but it converts very quickly to ketones after ingestion. The problem is that retail MCT oils that have a high concentration of caproic acid tend to taste bad and cause more of the stomach upset that many people report. It’s not one of “prized” types of MCTs.

Caprylic Acid

Caprylic Acid bypasses the liver and is reportedly the fastest MCT to metabolize in the brain and body. According to some research, caprylic acid has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It’s found at a concentration of about 6% in coconut oil, but it’s higher expense means that many retail MCT oils don’t contain high amounts of caprylic acid.

Capric Acid

Capric Acid is slower to turn into energy, but it’s more affordable to extract than caprylic acid. It also may be the most potent for treating candida, according to some research. It’s found at about 9% concentration in coconut oil.

The results show that capric acid, a 10-carbon saturated fatty acid, causes the fastest and most effective killing of all three strains of C. albicans tested.

That quote is from the study: In Vitro Killing of Candida albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides

Lauric Acid – The MCT That’s Not Really an MCT

Lauric Acid’s concentration in coconut oil is around 50%. It’s often lumped in with talk about MCTs (and likely heavily used in cheaper MCT oil products) but lauric acid must be processed by the liver. This makes it behave more like a long-chain (LCT) fat.

Lauric Acid does have some of the touted benefits of other MCTs, but not to the same degree. If you want to get a lot of Lauric Acid, just eat coconut oil. If you’re going to invest in MCT oil specifically, make sure you’re purchasing MCT oil that focus mostly on capric acid and caprylic acid.

MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil: What’s the Difference Then?

Coconut oil, like most retail MCT oil products, contains a variety of MCTs. The main difference is that higher quality retail MCT oils contain a larger percentage of the more desirable MCTs, such as caprylic acid and capric acid.

In order to get the same quantity of MCTs from coconut oil as you do from retail MCT oils, you’d have to be 6X+ the quantity. So, using retail MCT oils is simply a more efficient and practical way of achieving the benefits of MCT oil consumption.

What Are the Benefits of MCT Oil?

There are a lot of benefits to MCT oil, just as there are with coconut oil. Here are some of the main benefits that you might expect to experience when you start using MCT oil…

Quick Energy Boost

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.

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.

This provides almost instant energy. And yes, it’s a significant boost. You’ll absolutely feel it. It kind of feels like you gave your body rocket fuel.

But it’s not just the energy you get that’s interesting…

Blood Sugar, Metabolism, Appetite, and More…

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.).

For those reasons, it may be a good supplement for aiding weight loss. However, it’s not a magic pill in this regard. Research demonstrating weight loss caused directly form the consumption of MCT oil alone is inconsistent.

As far as brain function goes, MCT oil feels like rocket fuel because it enhances ketone production. Ketones are a more efficient fuel for your brain (which is why some people report clearer thinking on a ketogenic diet).

For productivity, using MCTs to outwork my competition is one of my unfair advantages.

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

What Are the [Negative] Side Effects of MCT Oil?

It’s mostly rainbows and unicorn farts, fortunately. But, there are a couple downsides to concentrated MCT oil.

First, MCT oil can certainly raise your cholesterol. Whether or not this actually means anything in real-world application is something you’ll have to decide on your own. The research on cholesterol is vehemently torn and the camps have become rather dogmatic.

As far as day to day consequences, consuming too much MCT oil can cause gastrointestinal distress. This is known by many as “disaster pants.”

If you’re not experienced with MCT oil consumption, take it very slow. I won’t tiptoe around this – if you consume too much at once (for some people that’s a teaspoon or two), you put yourself at high risk of shitting yourself.

It’s not a pleasant feeling. It comes with intense stomach cramps and burning – not a good look.

Is MCT Powder the Same as MCT Oil?

Kind of. The production process of MCT powder is the same as how protein powders are made – a process called spray drying.

The one caveat to MCT powder is that it’s is generally cut with starches and milk proteins, ingredients the pure oils will not have.

Since starches can spike blood sugar and raise insulin, the powders are typically not recommended for those following a ketogenic diet unless you use something like Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder which uses acacia fiber instead of starchy fillers.

The main benefit to powders is that they’re easier to travel with and many people report that they don’t get the same gastrointestinal distress that’s often reported with liquid MCT oil.

How to Use MCT Oil in Daily Life…

We’ve put together a free companion “cheat sheet” for this article that will show you:

  • How to best consume MCT oil (did you know you can use it when you cook?).
  • A process for easing into it so you don’t have “disaster pants” (you can’t just dive in, friends!)
  • The five best brands and sources of MCT oil that we recommend (not all of the brands available on the market are legit!).

As I said, the cheat sheet is totally free. Just tell us where to send it…

Get our free MCT oil cheat sheet!

We've put together a free cheat sheet to help you become an MCT Oil pro. Enter your details and we'll send it straight to your inbox.

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Comments

  • Amanda says:

    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!

  • Vicky Rowe says:

    I love MCT Oil. I either take it straight up, or put it in my tea.

  • Wenchypoo says:

    I’d rather do this than work up to the 2-4 tablespoons/day of unmodified potato starch that resistant starch proponents are pushing…

  • Wenchypoo says:

    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?

  • Colleen Mitchell-Knol says:

    How long do you have to take the lower dose for your body to get used to it? I just bought a bottle today and am going to try it! 🙂

    • Kevin Geary says:

      If you handle 1 tablespoon fine, you can try two the next day and three the next. I’ve never used more than 3 tablespoons.

      • Vanessa says:

        Kevin,
        I took 1 TBS in my coffee and I’m super dizzy and nauseous. Do you know what caused this to happen?

      • Kevin Geary says:

        You need to take less to start out then. Maybe a tsp.

      • Colleen Mitchell-Knol says:

        Thanks Kevin…..I’m already tolerating 1tbsp, so I’ll try 2 tomorrow! I think, according to my body weight, I’ll only need to take 2 tbsps. 🙂

  • Ebony White says:

    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 says:

    Is TwinLabs MCT Fuel the same stuff? Reading the label it mentions nothing of Coconuts…

  • Robert Pait says:

    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.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Where did you read that diabetics shouldn’t use it? Probably someone who is confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis.

      • Cindy Addington says:

        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).

      • Robert Pait says:

        “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 says:

        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 says:

        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.

  • Debbie says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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?

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Yeah, you should definitely ease into it. Did you drink the same amount of coffee you normally drink as well?

  • Dawn Parker says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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?

    • Aaron says:

      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!

      • Sally Hockema says:

        You have only lost a handful of pounds because you are not eating enough. You should eat 6 small carb/protien meals a day. Skipping meals puts your body into starvation mode.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      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.

  • Natalie says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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,

  • Judy says:

    I want to take mct oil to fix sleep issues. Any suggestions about how much and when?

  • shubham toshniwal says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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…

  • Cindy says:

    Would I take the MCT oil in place of my other healthy fats for the day such as almond butter or coconut oil or avocado?
    Thank you!

  • Ian says:

    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.)

  • brooke says:

    is it good to take mct oil with protien? like chicken and only 5g of fat from mct oil?

  • Canf says:

    My question is, how far apart would your recommend taking mci daily and is time of day something to consider especially for weight loss goals?
    Thx

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