The Promising Future of MCT oil from a supplier’s and a dietitian’s perspective
In February 2019, Registered Keto Dietitian Lotte from Myndfuel and myself met, in the new-fashioned way, on Linkedin. Where I used to believe that connecting on that digital platform was something AFTER MEETING OFFLINE, this belief has slowly changed over the last years. Now, I see it as a great way to meet like-minded people from around the world, and across all sectors of business.
Shortly after our Linkedin encounter, we met offline and almost immediately started brainstorming about what we could do together. When we, as Lus Health Ingredients, decided to sponsor the first European Keto-Live conference in Switzerland mid-June 2019, one extra ticket for Lotte was quickly arranged. Today, a few weeks before combining our forces and attending the keto conference, we write our first blog on MCT oil and its health benefits since this is the product we will bring along.
This article covers what MCT oil is, how your body digests it and how it plays a role in improving your health on a ketogenic lifestyle from a Dietitian’s perspective.
What is a Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) oil?
MCT oil consists of two main fatty acids, namely Caprylic (C8) and Capric (C10). The product is basically a concentrated version of Coconut oil OR Palm Kernel oil. The final product of these inputs, MCT oil, is similar in terms of the health benefits. For (L)us, however, it is clear that Coconut is the only way to go and the better more sustainable alternative to Palm based on the origin of their ingredients in general.
There are multiple versions of MCT oil, with different ratios of C8 and C10, commercially available. The most common ratio is 60:40 (C8:C10), there is 70:30 and a Pure C8. If needed any ratio is possible, but this is what is commonly offered in the market. The individual fatty acids do have different effects on our body, more about that at a later stage in another article.
MCT oil digestion is radically different
Long chain fatty acids, LCTs, (think of olive oil, fish oil, sunflower, etc) and MCTs follow similar routes in one of the first stages of our digestive tract. It starts with lipase action that disconnect the Sn1,3 fatty acids from the glycerol backbone, ending up with two free fatty acids and a 2-acylglycerol. This already starts in the stomach but takes mostly place in the gut. The body will then release bile salts to effectively emulsify the free fatty acids and 2-acylglycerol, ready for absorption. Migrating through the microvilli, the components are now circulating in the enterocyte. This is where things start to get interesting.
LC fatty acids are now re-esterified into the form of triglycerides and will be synthesized into lipoproteins called Chylomicrons. These will then be deposited into the Lymph system. A long route towards getting to the liver.
MC fatty acids, however, are not re-esterified. They maintain their form as free fatty acids. Because of their small size, they can directly enter the bloodstream and your liver can quickly break these down into an instant source of energy, called ketones. See it as LCTs taking a detour and MCT taking the highway.
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil health benefits from a Dietitian’s perspective.
Among advocates of the keto diet, it is now a well-known fact that MCTs plays an important role. Especially when it comes to a goal as weight loss, the use of MCTs shows great results. Compared to LCT that naturally occur in fatty products such as grass-fed butter and olive oil, MCT leads to a greater energy expenditure. As a result, MCT consumption may lead to increased fat loss and improved body weight (1). In addition, it has been shown that MCT oil increases the release of the 2 hormones that promote the feeling of feeling satisfied, namely peptide YY and leptin (2). Even compared to regular coconut oil, taking 2 tablespoons of MCT oil for breakfast leads to increased fullness (3). This discovery has probably also to do with a lower rise of triglycerides and glucose when consuming MCTs instead of coconut oil. Lastly, your body can directly convert MCTs into energy as ketones due to the shorter chains, preventing fat storage. These ketones are especially a great instant energy fuel for your brain. In summary, all the above-mentioned points show that MCT oil has great beneficial properties for people who are overweight.
The practical implementation of MCT oil for best success
With these promising health benefits, it is important to implement the consumption of MCT oil into your diet the right way. MCTs are successfully converted into energy, given the conditions that daily carb-intake is low (<50 grams) and the oil being consumed separately from a meal. The key of implementing MCT in your diet is starting with a small amount, since your body is not used to digesting it at first. Start with adding 1 teaspoon a day to your coffee, 2 teaspoons after 3 days and 1 tablespoon after one week and slowly build up further till 2 tablespoons. When you are trying to lose weight, it is inevitable to consume MCT oil as a part of your total daily fat intake and not as an addition to it. The bottom line of losing weight is to burn more kilocalories than you take in.
Since the popularity of a keto lifestyle has risen tremendously over the last few years, there are also more MCT products available on the market. For both individuals as well as for health professionals, it may be a challenge to find out which MCT product(s) meet(s) the high-quality standards. To make it easier for you, the characteristics of a high-quality MCT oil are: non-GMO, organic, sugar-free, and sustainable derived MCT from 100% coconuts. So do keep this in mind, since there are also a lot of misleading products on the market such as MCT made from unsustainable palm kernel oil or products that don’t show the ratio of type of MCT.
The bottom line is that MCT oil can be very beneficial to your health for different reasons, provided that you invest in a product that meets the high-quality standards.
From June 10th till June 14th, you can find us at the very 1st International Keto Live Conference in Switzerland.
Will we see you there?