The shelves of literally any and every drugstore and wellness shop are becoming ever more crowded with oils. If you have a health concern, there’s probably an oil specifically catered to it. They call out to us in their small, perfect, popular packages – CBD oil, Hemp oil, Moroccan oil, and maybe a less well-known newcomer, MCT oil.
But what exactly is MCT oil? Does it proclaim to know the secret to improved wellness like, say, CBD oil? And if so, what are these benefits and are they backed with evidence? What’s the best way to add it into your wellness routine? Moreover, are there any side effects or adverse effects to taking MCT oil, and is it just a lot of hype without hard-backed results?
Let’s explore everything you need to know about MCT oil and determine if it deserves to be the next oil superstar.
What is MCT Oil and Why is it Different?
First of all, MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride, and, as its name suggests, consists of medium-length chains of triglycerides (fats). Commonly MCT is extracted from coconut oil, as more than 50% of the fat in coconut oil comes from MCTs. Because MCT’s fatty chains are quite short in length compared to other fats (of course we knew that…) they are easily digested by the body, and therein lies the secret to their success.
Unlike long-chain triglycerides, which are found in most other foods, your body metabolizes these shorter fat chains differently. You see, fats have two predominant functions – being used and burned up for energy or stored in our bodies as ‘reserved energy’ or body fat. Because of MCT’s shorter chains, it’s more easily metabolized and absorbed into the body.
And, this easy absorption means they go to work in your liver pretty much immediately to be used as an instant source of energy. They can also be converted into ‘ketones’, which are produced when the liver breaks down a large amount of fat. Again, unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can provide energy to both the body and brain (which usually uses glucose for energy). The thing is, MCTs are more efficiently converted to energy and used by the body – and that means they’re less likely to be stored as fat.
What are the Proven Benefits of MCT Oil?
If your ears perked up at the words ‘less likely to be stored as fat’, the rest of the world of wellness is way ahead of you. Of course, MCT oil has become instantly associated with losing weight. And, even though it’s easy to be persuaded by such magical promises, what’s actually been proven about MCT, and are there any other reasons to pay attention to it?
- As mentioned, MCT can be converted into energy for both the body and brain.
- It may reduce lactate buildup – rising lactate levels during exercise can impact athletic performance, and MCT might reduce these levels and improve performance. This has made MCT a very popular supplement for athletes, but more studies are needed.
- MCT contains fatty acids that combat bacteria and yeast growth. Its ability to reduce yeast and bacterial growth may be due to the caprylic, capric and lauric acids. The benefits of this are wide-reaching, but again more studies are needed.
- MCT may help manage epilepsy – It has been found that increased levels of ketone may reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. And, because MCT is easily converted into ketone, it may help in this area.
- And, indeed, it may truly help us lose weight. It turns out that MCT makes us feel full. It has been shown to increase the release of two hormones that promote the feeling of fullness in the body: peptide YY and leptin. And, again, because your body processes MCT differently than other fats, more of it is used immediately rather than being stored. This is great news for our waistlines, but the consequences are much more tantalizing than this – it could help reduce heart disease and help manage diabetes.
MCT and CBD: What’s the Connection?
So what’s the connection between MCT oil and CBD oil? You may well have seen them gracing the same shelf in your local wellness store, or heard them used when the hot topic of wellness comes up, or even athletic performance and recovery. So one thing that these two definitely have in common is that they are both used for general health support. But, it might be easier to look at the many ways in which they differ.
Differences Between MCT and CBD
|MCT Oil||CBD Oil|
|Used for nutritional purposes and as a carrier oil.||Used for therapeutic purposes.|
|Comes from Coconut or palm oil.||Extracted from the hemp plant.|
|MCT is a fatty acid easily absorbed by the body and is used as a nutritional and dietary supplement.||CBD works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system and helping to support its functioning.|
|MCT may help us lose weight, increase energy, and exercise more effectively.||CBD may help regulate anxiety, sleep, and inflammation.|
Benefits of Combining MCT and CBD
However different they are individually though, there’s something very special about the combination of the two. As stated above, MCT oil can be used as a carrier oil, and CBD requires a carrier oil to help preserve the potency and delivery of the active compounds contained within it. So, when MCT is used as the carrier oil for the CBD we take, it’s helping it work more effectively while providing its own excellent benefits. The combination is thought to have many benefits:
- Improved Bioavailability of CBD – When you ingest CBD, it’s absorbed through the digestive system. During this process some of the CBD may be lost and not properly absorbed into our bodies. MCT oil helps to improve the rate of absorption. This is because it doesn’t require stomach acid to be broken down by the body. This helps to maximize the effects of CBD by allowing you to get more out of each dose.
- Longer Shelf Life of CBD – Most fat-based products have a longer shelf life than products made of protein or carbohydrates. Oils tend to take much longer to expire, and so using a MCT as a carrier oil can help keep your CBD effective for longer.
Does MCT Oil have any Side Effects?
So now that we’ve looked at the many benefits of MCT oil, is there anything you need to know before using it as a dietary supplement or a way to maximise your exercise routine? Well, luckily, the side effects appear to be quite minimal and seem to disappear after your body gets used to having it in your diet.
However, the first few days of use might be accompanied by digestive upset such as diarrhea and nausea. As with any supplement, it’s important to only buy well-respected and best quality products.
How Can You Add MCT To Your Diet?
The possibilities are pretty endless here. MCT is super versatile and can be added to all kinds of recipes like smoothies, pasta sauces, salad dressings, or even take it straight. As it’s tasteless and odourless, you have free creative reign! However, because of MCT’s low smoke-point, it’s best not to add it to baked goods.