Coconut MCT Oil for a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Coconut oil is the talk of health and fitness circles around the world, and for good reason. Coconut oil contains MCT’s or Medium Chain Triglycerides. They are touted for fat loss in Keto diets and used to enhance brain health and metabolism in athletes. But are they really that good?
What is MCT oil
Medium chain triglycerides are a type of fatty acid that is more easily digested and used by the body. Fatty acids are classified by the length of their carbon bonds. Long-chain fatty acids are about 13 to 18 carbons long, while medium fatty acid carbon bonds are 6 to 12 carbons long, and both must be consumed through food. Short chain fatty acids 5 or less and are produced by healthy gut bacteria.
The length of carbon bonds in fatty acids matters, because they determine how easily a fat can be broken down by your system and absorbed into your bloodstream for use. And it turns out the carbon bonds in MCT oil are smaller than in other fatty acids, and with the added benefit of the shorter carbon chains, MCTs easy to digest and quick to absorb.
But the real beauty of medium chain triglycerides is that they require no special enzymes to digest and can travel directly to the liver for use. Because of easy digestion and quick absorption, they are used quickly as energy and not stored as fat. The result is a feeling of satiety after consuming it and a boost of energy as it quickly enters your system.
While MCTs can be found in a number of foods from dairy products to palm oil, coconut is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to consume this healthy nutrient. But palm oil has proven to be extremely detrimental to the environment while many people avoid dairy products due to allergies and other reasons. Coconut oil is better for the environment, easy to consume in coffee, on salads and can tolerate high heat cooking, making it a delicious addition to many meals.
Health Benefits of Coconut MCTs
Fat Loss – In a double-blind, controlled trial, healthy men and women were given a diet protocol of similar energy, fat and protein intake with the exception that one group was given MCTs and the other LCTs, or long-chain-triglycerides. Both experienced consistent weight loss but by the end of 12 weeks the group consuming MCTs had significantly more weight loss, a decrease in body fat and less subcutaneous fat. (1)
Weight Loss – The healthy fats in coconut oil help keep you feeling full and satiated, and seem to control appetite. It also lowers the rise of glucose and triglycerides which might influence the appetite. Because it is also easy to digest and absorb, it seems that MCTs help ward off excess fat storage and aid in weight control.
Energy Boost – Because it is metabolized very quickly as it is digested, MCT oil quickly fuels the cells in your brain and throughout your body. This energy boost can fuel a workout may help you exercise longer with more intensity.
Brain Health – Your brain uses glucose for energy, and when it runs lows, it uses ketones, instead. This is one reason why many who are on ketogenic diets add coconut MCT oil to their daily food plan, as the added fats are quickly converted to ketones for energy due to the low carbohydrate intake. But MCT oil has more benefits for brain health.
Coconut MCT oil contains caprylic acid, a type of fatty acid found mainly in coconut and palm oil. But what makes caprylic acid stand out is it health promoting properties such as being anti-microbial and it’s a super fuel for brain power. It turns out that caprylic acid can cross the blood brain barrier and help nourish and hydrate the brain. This may be another reason why those who take it experience increased energy and better focus.
Supports Digestion – As mention above, coconut MCT oil contains caprylic acid. The added benefit for your digestion is that it can help balance your gut microflora for improved digestion. This leads to better absorption of nutrients and improvement of intestinal distress as it that can cause digestive problems.
Coconut MCT oil is used by many as a way to get the right amount of healthy fat into a ketogenic diet. Because the body must convert fats to ketones for this type of diet to work, carbs must be restricted, and fats have to be increased to 20 to 40 grams per meal. But consuming just any fat can actually add weight and create health problems.
But coconut MCT oil provides all the health benefits listed above and more. Those who use it along with a ketogenic diet find they have more energy and provide benefits for healthy weight management. And it makes a healthy addition to cooked foods, salads and beverages.
How to Fit Coconut MCT Oil into Your Healthy Diet
There are numerous ways to fit coconut MCT oil into a healthy diet. Here are great tips:
- Add to teas and coffee for a full-bodied morning boost
- Add to smoothies for a delicious but mild coconut flavor
- Lightly sauté veggies in a little coconut oil
- Add to salad dressing and vegetable dips
- Make delicious desserts using coconut MCT oil instead of unhealthy fats
Including coconut MCT oil into your daily diet will allow you to enjoy the benefits of weight management, improved brain power and more. Begin with a small amount to allow your body to adjust to your new diet addition, then have fun experimenting. Enjoy the delicious versatility of this healthy fat in smoothies, treats and meals as you work your way to a leaner and healthier you.
1 Hiroaki Tsuji, Michio Kasai, Hiroyuki Takeuchi, Masahiro Nakamura, Mitsuko Okazaki, Kazuo Kondo, Dietary Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols Suppress Accumulation of Body Fat in a Double-Blind, Controlled Trial in Healthy Men and Women, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 11, November 2001, Pages 2853–2859, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.11.2853
Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.
As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.
Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.