Why Is MCT Oil Good for Keto?
If you’ve been keto for long enough, the odds are pretty good that you’ve heard about the benefits of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). Like any supplement, especially in the areas of health and weight loss, there are some myths and exaggerations floating around the internet, but there is actually a good amount of science to back up the benefits of MCT oil for a keto lifestyle and your health in general!
Disclaimer: I’m not a biologist, doctor, or other medical professional. This post is based on my own experience and research related to the benefits of MCTs. If you have any concerns, you should consult your doctor before taking MCT oil or other supplements.
Satiety and Appetite Reduction
If you already eat a keto diet, you’re probably familiar with the ability of healthy fats to keep you full for much longer than empty carbs. Turns out, studies suggest that this is particularly true for MCTs. In one study, people who consumed MCT oil ate 594 calories fewer over the course of a day than those who had the same amount of fat and calories from other sources.
The MCT […] breakfast led to a greater average time until lunch was requested [and] also led to fewer calories consumed later in the day
Other studies have also showed similar results, with people who take MCTs eating less food and calories over the rest of the day. Naturally, consuming fewer calories makes it easier to lose or maintain weight. MCT oil can also help you to avoid cheats and stick to your macros by keeping you full!
Of course, all healthy fats are keto-friendly, but MCT oil is actually ketogenic. Taking MCTs encourages your body to produce more ketones than eating other sources of fats.
Ketones are the brain’s main alternative fuel to glucose. Dietary medium chain triglyceride (MCT) supplements increase plasma ketones
Anecdotally, some keto’ers find that this allows them to raise their carb intake slightly without leaving ketosis. Additionally, the higher ketone levels may actually help you to maintain and even increase many of the existing benefits of a keto lifestyle.
There is also some evidence to suggest that MCT oils help to increase metabolism and fat burning. In addition to the “fat for fuel” benefits of keto, a recent study also suggests that MCTs may increase fat burning overall. This was backed up by another study:
From a health perspective, MCTs increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure as well as reduce food intake and beneficially alter body composition.
There may also be some increase in metabolism after eating meals with MCTs, and yet another study suggests they can help prevent the decrease in metabolism that sometimes occurs as your body adapts to longer term diet and/or weight loss.
Increased Fat Loss
Reducing huger and increasing metabolism can obviously be helpful when trying to manage your weight. A study suggests this may help in weight loss:
Consumption of a diet rich in MCTs results in greater loss of [fat] compared with LCTs, perhaps due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation observed with MCT intake. Thus, MCTs may be considered as agents that aid in the prevention of obesity or potentially stimulate weight loss.
A second study suggests MCTs may help to encourage more of your weight loss to be in the form of fat rather than muscle.
Other Potential Benefits
MCTs are also being researched for their potential to raise “good” cholesterol levels, increase cognitive performance, improve insulin sensitivity, and more. It may also play a future role in treating a variety of health conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
Should I Take MCT Oil for Keto?
It’s up to you! A keto lifestyle has plenty of benefits of its own without additional MCT oil supplementation, so there’s no requirement to add it in if you’re getting healthy fats from other sources and happy with your results. Many common keto foods like dairy products and coconut oil contain small amounts of MCTs as is.
There are a number of reasons people choose to supplement MCT oil on keto though. Some people feel that it has helped them to break weight loss stalls or increase their existing results from keto. Others find it to be a good source of quick energy, since ketosis already primes you to use fats for energy and MCTs are metabolized quicker than other fats. It can also be a good option if you struggle to get enough healthy fats in from other sources or if you find yourself dealing with hunger and/or energy loss during the day.
I have personally incorporated MCTs into my own keto journey with success. MCT oil in my morning coffee keeps me satisfied and energized for hours, which is great on my intermittent fasting days. I also like replacing other, less ketogenic fats with MCT oil when I can for the additional health and metabolism benefits!