If you have done research about the KETO diet, MCT oil would have definitely popped up on your screen a few times. But what is MCT oil exactly and how can it make your experience on the KETO diet easier?
First things first: the KETO diet is a low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein diet that puts your body in a fat-burning state known as ketosis. The goal of the KETO diet is to achieve ketosis—a metabolic process that occurs when your body uses stored fat as energy instead of carbohydrates.
The body typically uses glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy, but when you consume fewer carbohydrates, your liver will produce ketones that your brain and other organs can use as an alternative source of energy.
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a type of liquid that contains medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides. The body digests medium-chain fats easier than longer-chain fatty acids, as they are sent directly to the liver where they have a thermogenic effect on the body’s metabolism. In basic terms, the shorter the chain, the faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy in ketone form. The body basically uses MCT oils as energy, instead of storing these oils as body fat.
MCT oils originate from plant-based oils and milks, of which coconut oil is the most popular.
Triglycerides are a type of saturated fat—a dietary fat in which the fatty acid chains have single bonds—that can be found in the body. MCT is basically the chemical makeup of the fatty acids in triglycerides. The body uses triglycerides as a source of energy or stores them as fat.
MCT oil is considered by some as the ultimate KETO supplement. Some of the benefits of adding an MCT oil to your KETO diet are:
MCT oil can help increase satiety and raise the metabolic rate at which the body operates, which can have a positive impact on energy expenditure, fat-burning, and weight reduction. The study, Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2015), highlighted that the decreases in body fat and body weight were significantly more in individuals who consumed MCTs than those who consumed long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).
Consuming MCT oil on the KETO Diet can help with weight loss and obesity, which can improve your cardiovascular health.
It is no secret that high cholesterol levels can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. MCT oil can lower LDL (the ‘bad’) cholesterol, while increasing HDL (the ‘good’) cholesterol. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine (2018), MCTs had more protective effects on the cardiovascular health of rats who were on a high-fat diet compared to those who followed a diet with long-chain triglyceride fats.
MCTs travel rapidly from the gut to the liver, where they are broken down to be used as a source of energy. The fats are converted to ketones in the liver, where they pass through the blood-brain barrier, and ultimately become a source of energy for brain cells. MCTs are an immediate source of energy, as they enter the cells without being broken down.
Dietary fats such as MCT oil are known to stimulate digestion by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria, which strengthens the intestinal barrier. This barrier prevents harmful antigens and microorganisms from invading the gastrointestinal tract.
You do not have to follow the KETO Diet to generate the benefits of MCT oil. Whether you are eating carbohydrates or not, MCT oil can still help to provide you with a quick source of energy or to suppress your appetite.