If you’re like us here at Organika, it’s likely you follow along with all the new health and wellness trends. And one of our favourites that has been a star recently, is MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil.
What are MCTs?
MCT stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid that is made up of something called a glycerol backbone, as well as three fatty-acid tails. Because it’s “medium” these tails are usually made up of about 6-12 carbon atoms. There are actually four types are MCTs that can be used: caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid.
But enough with the scientific stuff. MCTs naturally occur, and are most abundant, in foods like coconut oil and palm oil. That’s why many people also love coconut oil so much! And while it does contain a significant amount of MCTs, that’s not all it has. It also contains LCTs (long-chain triglycerides), which is broken down differently.
LCTs are actually digested and broken down to create fat cells. However MCTs head straight to your liver for digestion, and because of the shorter chain of fatty acids, it breaks down more efficiently and can be used more quickly for energy. It also gets broken down to create something called ketones.
As part of the foundation of the not-so-new ketogenic diet, ketones are a secondary source of fuel for our bodies to use, usually tapped into when we’ve finished off our primary stores of glucose.
What are some of the benefits of using MCT oil?
While your brain, like the rest of your body, uses glucose as its primary source of energy, it can also use ketones. As we already discussed, MCTs can be broken down directly by the liver, into ketones that can be used quickly by our brains.
This is especially important for people who are on a ketogenic diet. Because you consume so few carbohydrates on a ketogenic diet, it is essential for your body to utilize this other source of energy efficiently.
There has also been a lot of research being developed around the effects of MCT oil and ketones on those living with Alzheimer’s Disease (1).
Along with this, ketones have actually be shown to help with neuron repair… and we need these healthy to ensure we pass messages properly through our body, like those from our hormones.
Many people have noted that they have increased energy when they are in ketosis (well, after they potentially experience the keto-flu), especially as they balance their blood sugar levels and reduce the number of energy peaks and lows throughout their day. However, you do not need to be in ketosis to feel these effects.
Studies have shown that many people can exercise for longer periods when consuming MCTs. Lactic acid found in the blood was also lower, meaning people took longer to feel tired, even if they were doing the same exercises (2). Being able to do a better workout and walk down the stairs the next day without complaining? Yes please!
MCTs are a thermogenic food (3). So, let’s talk about what thermogenic means. Foods that are thermogenic actually produce more heat as we metabolize them, so they tend to burn more calories. Other thermogenic foods include protein, caffeine, and Garcinia Cambogia.
Along with thermogenesis, MCTs can also help to regulate our hormones. And when our hormones are balanced, we are less likely to hold onto excess weight. This is done in two ways. One is through balancing blood sugar (which we’ll talk about soon - like, actually soon. It’s right below!), the other is by protecting the neurons that are responsible for proper hormone uptake and release. This can include stress hormones like cortisol, reproductive hormones like estrogen, and satiety hormones like leptin.
Blood sugar balance.
How the heck can MCTs balance blood sugar? As with most fats, when you pair foods that are higher in carbohydrates (most fruit, grains, etc.), with a healthy fat or protein, like a scoop of coconut oil in your oatmeal, or a smoothie with collagen powder, it slows the digestion of the carbohydrates. Think about it like 2 types of roller coasters. The first is when you eat carbohydrates on their own (that’s the really big, scary one with higher drops). The second is when you pair your carbohydrates with fats and protein (that’s the child’s roller coaster).
Cravings can be impacted by hormones such as “leptin” and “ghrelin” (4). Think of leptin as the good angel sitting on your shoulder (that helps to cue satiety), and ghrelin as the gremlin on your other (cueing cravings, especially for carbohydrates).
Alongside using MCT to help increase leptin and your feelings of fullness (4), good quality sleep in another great way to keep your leptin and ghrelin levels balanced.
How do I use MCT Oil?
Our favourite way is by using it in a Ketogenic coffee, alongside collagen powder, or combined with Maca to also get adaptogenic benefits!
Have you tried MCT Oil? Tell us your favourite way to use it, below!