Our brain, hormones, and immune system need healthy fats from the foods we eat to thrive. The trillions of cells that our bodies are made of depend on healthy fats to function optimally. In reality, there is nothing new about this—from an evolutionary and biological perspective, fat was and will always be an essential part of our existence and wellness.
I love real, whole-food fats like avocados, olives, coconut, nuts, seeds, grass-fed ghee, and wild-caught fish, but one of my favorite fat hacks that I use in my daily routine and recommend to my clients is something called MCT oil.
what is MCT Oil?
Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a super-special type of fats (or fatty acid) that are six to 12 carbons in length.
There are four main kinds of MCTs based on their length:
- Capronic acid: 6 carbons (C6)
- Caprylic acid: 8 carbons (C8)
- Capric acid: 10 carbons (C10)
- Lauric acid: 12 carbons (C12)
From a biology perspective, lauric acid should actually be considered a long-chain triglyceride (LCT), not an MCT; unlike the biological MCTs, lauric acid gets processed by your liver. MCTs, on the other hand, skip this longer liver pathway step and get converted quickly into a source of energy by our body. Think of lauric acid like the really close cousin of the MCT family: always over the house on the weekends but not directly related.
Healthy MCT fats are largely missing from the modern Western diet. These little guys are a kind of saturated fat and are very easy for your body to break down and use for fuel compared to the more common LCT (long-chain triglyceride) fats. We all are born relying on fat in the form of breast milk for brain development and energy. Even if you weren’t breastfed, what is added to formulas to mimic breast milk? MCT oil derived from coconut and palm oil.
There are both natural and synthetic MCT oils. The natural MCTs come from palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and dairy fats. You can also get MCT fats from the foods that you eat. Here’s a list of MCTs found naturally in foods. The percentages listed are the percentages of MCTs found in the total amount of fats in the food:
- Coconut oil: 15 percent
- Palm kernel oil: 7.9 percent
- Cheese: 7.3 percent
- Butter: 6.8 percent
- Milk: 6.9 percent
- Yogurt: 6.6 percent
Coconut oil and grass-fed ghee are two of my favorite whole food sources of MCTs. Both contain varying amounts of these different MCT fats, but MCT oil is the pure source of these bioavailable fats.
How MCT oil can enhance exercise.
Want to take your workouts to the next level? Research has shown that supplementing with a blend of MCT oil, amino acids rich in leucine, and good old vitamin D increases muscle strength.
It has also been shown that consuming MCT-rich foods like coconut increases the ability of people to work out longer during high-intensity exercise routines.
How MCT oil can help you lose weight.
Connected to their ability to improve ketosis, MCT fats have been shown to be superstars in their ability to aid in weight loss. So how do MCT oils do this, you ask? Let me count the ways:
Studies have shown that in just a few weeks, people using MCT oil dropped more pounds, losing weight around their hips and waist as well as the more dangerous fats around our organs (visceral) compared to those having other healthy fats.
How MCT oil affects your brain.
MCT oil has been shown to significantly improve the memory and overall brain health of people with functional brain problems like brain fog and even people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s diseasewho had the APOE4 gene, which is associated with an increased risk factor of the neurological condition.