What Is MCT Oil ~ And Why You Shouldn't Use It
Updated: May 27
If you've been following me for a while, then you mayyyy have seen me post a pic or two on my favorite cup of coffee ~ Keto Coffee. This has become a staple for myself and hundreds of AENpeeps around the world in order to tap into fat burning mechanisms, increase energy levels, reduce anxiety and overall just feel GOOD.
One of the main ingredients in Keto Coffee is unrefined coconut oil.* I've gotten questions in the past about whether or not you should use MCT oil instead of coconut oil. I've never fully addressed this on my website, so I wanted to share with you today why I personally don't use MCT oil so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to use it too.
*Pssst... curious about the benefits of Keto Coffee and unrefined coconut oil? Check out THIS video!
But first... what is MCT Oil?!
MCT oil is a form of fat that has been refined and processed in order to only contain medium chain triglycerides (aka MCT). Dietary fats come in all different shapes and sizes - literally. One of the ways that they are classified is by how long they are. For example, butyric acid, which is present in grass-fed butter and formed from bacteria fermentation of fiber, is a short chain fatty acid (SCFA). It's smaller in size than medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are in coconut oil. On the other hand, you have long chain fatty acids present in foods such as fish, chia seeds and olive oil. These are longer than medium chain triglycerides and therefore require extra digestion and a separate transport system in order to be absorbed into the body.
It's mostly due to MCT's size why it has gotten such a huge reputation for increased energy and boosted weight loss. MCTs - which are highly present in foods such as coconut oil - don't need a special transport mechanism and therefore can immediately be used as energy. MCTs have also been found to decrease inflammation and heal the gut.
Where can you get MCTs?
MCTs are found in foods such as unrefined coconut oil and palm oil. MCT oil is made by processing coconut and/or palm oil in order to remove all other fatty acids and leave only MCTs behind. This is meant to maximize the fat burning and anti-inflammatory capabilities of MCT. And to be fair, studies HAVE found that this processed/refined MCT oil can be better than coconut oil at improving satiety. But I still have some hesitations around MCT oil. To be clear, I could be wrong. But here are my thoughts so that you can decide which option is best for you.
5 Reasons I Prefer Coconut Oil Over MCT Oil
1. MCT oil is HIGHLY concentrated.
You can ALWAYS get too much of a good thing. Too much kale can lead to thyroid issues and too much water can lead to life threatening hyponatremia. Our food supply naturally doesn't have highly concentrated levels of MCT. In fact, even coconut oil (one of the richest sources of MCT) only contains about 62% MCT. With the huge interest in the Keto Diet, MCT oil has become immensely popular. Because the large usage of MCT oil is still fairly new, there isn't research on long term negative side effects (which there COULD be zero negative side effects - again sharing my thoughts, not necessarily studies).
2. MCT oil is HIGHLY processed.
Back in my organic chemistry lab days in college, we used to have to extract and isolate all different types of compounds. Whenever we did so, protective glasses and gloves were always necessary because the chemicals used to extract the compounds usually were cancerous/carcinogenic. One example of this is hexanes. With the isolation of MCT, it's possible that carcinogenic hexanes are still left behind in the end product. Coconut oil on the other hand doesn't involve the same processing. It is formed by either pressing or spinning coconut meat until the oil is separated. There are some coconut oil companies, such as Nutiva, that claim to not use hexanes which is an important consideration.
3. You miss out on the other benefits of coconut oil.
MCTs have been found to increase fat burning - that's definitely true. BUT most MCT oils don't contain a fatty acid that coconut oil has HIGH amounts of ~ lauric acid. Lauric acid has been found in studies to aid in acne reduction and help to boost your immune system. By only having MCT oil, you won't receive the immune boosting and breakout reducing benefits of lauric acid in coconut oil.
4. MCTs can contain filler oils.
Like I mentioned, MCTs are great for reducing inflammation, but not when paired with omega-6 fatty acid ~ which is an INFLAMMATORY fat! In order to reduce the production cost of MCTs, some companies will add inexpensive and inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids to your MCT oil. Of course, there are good and bad products out there, but this is definitely something to consider if you do choose to use MCT.
5. You can get MCTs naturally.
Like I mentioned, MCT is naturally in products such as grass-fed butter, milk, yogurt, cheese and unrefined coconut oil. You can save yourself the pretty high price tag of MCT oil and get the benefits from whole food sources instead!
What to use instead
In my daily cup of Keto Coffee, I get MCTs AND the benefits of lauric acid and short chain fatty acids by using unrefined coconut oil. Look for a brand that is organic and ONLY contains coconut oil (no filler oils!!). If you choose to use MCT oil, that's completely fine too! Just make sure you opt for a high quality source that's organic and doesn't use hexanes or fillers.
So... are you ready to make your first cup of Keto Coffee now?!
Autumn Elle Nutrition