What Is MCT Oil and How Do You Use It?

If you're new to the trendy oil supplement and wondering if MCT oil is good for you and your diet plan, we've got answers.

When I first heard about adding MCT oil to coffee (aka bulletproof coffee) as a brain- and energy-booster as well as the ability to boost your metabolism, I was definitely intrigued. I mean, who wouldn't want to start the day with a little extra pep your step? Anyone that follows a Keto diet probably knows about (or has at least heard of) MCT oil, but these days it's becoming a trendy ingredient in all sorts of eating plans. If you've never tried MCT oil and wondering if it's a good fit for your lifestyle, I'll go over some MCT oil basics as well as how to use MCT oil.

glass bottle of mct oil on cutting board with fresh coconuts
Getty Images/a_namenko

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT is short for medium-chain triglyceride, a compound made of medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids naturally occur in sources such as coconut oil, palm oil, goat milk, and even breast milk. MCT oil ($14, Amazon) is a man-made extraction of these fatty acids into a clear, flavorless liquid usually made from coconut oil and palm oil. Why man-made instead of just going for the natural oil on its own? Without getting into too many scientific details, there are also long-chain triglycerides in these natural oils (coconut oil has approximately 65% MCTs while MCT oil supplements have 100%), which lessens the health benefits of consuming only MCTs (more on that next). In general, one tablespoon of MCT oil has approximately 120 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat.

MCT Oil Benefits

When MCTs are consumed, they have a high burn rate in your body (meaning it takes less time to digest), which can boost your metabolism in the process. Studies reveal consuming MCT oil could contribute to weight loss by decreasing food intake and increasing metabolic health. According to Emily Gonzalez, N.D. and scientific affairs manager at Bulletproof, MCT oil also helps provide sustained energy throughout the day and is considered "brain food." "What's particularly great about MCTs as opposed to other fats is that they are converted to ketones, an energy source for the body, and are not stored in the body's fat cells," Gonzalez says. So if you're on a low-carb keto diet, your liver turns fat into ketones to feed your brain.

person pouring bulletproof mct brain octane oil into a bowl of food
Courtesy of Bulletproof

Where to Buy MCT Oil

MCT oil can be purchased at most larger grocery stores in the supplement or pharmaceutical section as well as online. There are different types and brands of MCT Oil ($27, Amazon) available, so you can find one that's best suited to your needs.

How to Use MCT Oil

As mentioned earlier, MCT oil is clear and flavorless, and Gonzalez points out it's easily added to whatever you are eating or drinking. Perhaps the most common way is by adding to your morning cup of coffee, but you can use MCT oil in your salad dressing, smoothies, and other non-cooked foods (it has a low smoke point, so avoid using MCT oil where heat is involved).

So should you add MCT oil to your diet? The research is certainly promising, but there's still a lot more info to uncover. It's a wise idea to talk to your doctor or dietitian before incorporating MCT oil into your morning coffee routine.

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  1. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre et al. "Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men." European Academy of Nutritional Sciences. pp. 1134-1140. 2014.

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