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MCT oil benefits and uses

It is used by athletes, weight loss and those on a ketogenic diet: MCT oil is a supplement that is attributed with a number of health-promoting properties. Derived from coconuts and palm kernels, it contains medium-chain saturated fatty acids, i.e. fatty acids with relatively short carbon chains. This is the characteristic that determines the unique properties of MCT oil.

There are four types of MCT: C6 (caprylic acid), C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (caproic acid) and C12 (lauric acid), with high-quality MCT oil supplements usually containing isolated and extracted individual fatty acids. These are C8 (caprylic) or C10 (capric) acid or a mixture of C8 and C10 acids. MCT preparations are widely available and can be in various forms: capsules, liquid or powder.

Properties of MCT oil

The unique properties of MCT oil are a direct result of the structure of the fatty acids it contains: due to their relatively short carbon chain, they are not broken down in the small intestine. Interestingly, some of them (mainly C8 and C10) show antibacterial and fungicidal effects, can have a real impact on LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, and – support weight control, regulate the digestive system and improve cognitive function. MCT oils have strong ketogenic properties, thus reducing the consumption of amino acids in energy processes. As a result, muscle tissue is adequately protected against degradation. This is crucial for low-carbohydrate diets: low carb and ketogenic diets[4].

MCT oil has a positive effect on cholesterol levels and heart function

Supplementation with C8 or C8 and C10 MCT oil in any form supports weight loss. As a result, it can contribute to lowering the risk of heart disease, mainly due to the reduction of so-called bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). At the same time, regular intake of medium-chain fatty acids present in MCT oil has a positive effect on the level of so-called good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).

MCT oil promotes weight loss and improves metabolism

The digestion and absorption process of MCT fatty acids is different from that of other fats, which means that they are relatively quickly converted into energy and used by the body. At the same time, MCT fats increase the feeling of satiety and reduce appetite. This is especially desirable for physically active people, but not only. People who are losing weight, on a reduction or ketogenic diet can also benefit from the advantages of MCTs. The results of research to date confirm the beneficial effects of MCT oil on the weight loss process: medium-chain acids exhibit strong thermogenic properties. Their consumption is therefore associated with an increase in energy expenditure in the form of heat. [5]

It is worth knowing that MCT fatty acids have a strong ketogenic effect and clearly shorten the time for the body to enter a state of ketosis. This is important for low-carbohydrate diets: low carb and ketogenic diets.

MCT oil has a positive effect on brain function

Previous studies have shown that the acids in MCT oil (mainly C8 and C10) improve cognitive abilities in people of all ages, including the elderly. Interestingly, supplementation with MCT oil in powder or in any other form also produces the desired results in people with memory impairment, also related to Alzheimer’s disease.

How does just one dose of medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) result in an almost immediate improvement in cognitive performance?

Well, MCT fatty acids do not resemble most consumed fats. Among other things, they are not stored as body fat. Because of their relatively short carbon chains, MCT fatty acids are easily digestible and quickly absorbed. They also support (and, in large quantities, accelerate) the production of ketone bodies. It is these that provide an alternative fuel source for the energy-intensive brain. Its great benefit is to improve the brain’s cognitive abilities [6]. Importantly, for people with Alzheimer’s disease, energy derived from glucose is not desirable – it can accelerate the disease process.

MCT oil improves performance during training

When taken before training, it leads to a faster and noticeably more effective increase in energy levels. Unlike energy derived from simple carbohydrates, energy from MCTs remains constant throughout and after training. This is because saturated fats do not cause a sudden drop in energy, which is usually associated with a feeling of fatigue and sleepiness.

What is more, the energy gained from MCTs is easily assimilated, which is of great importance when muscles are overloaded with training. Used skilfully, the potential of MCT oil C8 or C8 and C10 can save muscle glycogen reserves and lead to a noticeable improvement in exercise capacity.

MCT oil and its health benefits - infographics or mind map sketch on art paper, healthy eating concept

Other Uses of MCT oil

MCT oil is an invaluable support for reducing and ketogenic diets, especially during the reduction phase (it should be supplemented during the adaptation phase to ketosis) and when glycaemia is stabilised [1]. The use of MCT oil in the above situations is almost necessary: the caloric deficit inherent in reduction is almost always accompanied by a decrease in energy and significant weakness. In addition, the body does not always tolerate the change of energy regime well (in the case of a ketogenic diet: from carbohydrates to fats). By including MCT oil as a dietary supplement, you can get your body into ketosis noticeably faster.

In addition, just one dose of MCT is a quick injection of valuable energy. Remember, however, that reaping the benefits of MCT oil supplementation is not possible without prior adaptation of the body. Too high a dose of MCTs can trigger a number of adverse reactions in the body, mainly from the digestive system.

What are the uses of MCT oil C8, C10 or C8 and C10 and who in particular should take care to take it regularly?

MCTs for physically active people

MCT oil is recommended for physically active people, regardless of their level of fitness and the specifics of the exercise undertaken.

Effects of MCTs on energy and performance

The body obtains energy through the efficient transport of fatty acids directly to the mitochondria. It is there that the process of burning energy-rich compounds takes place. In the case of medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MTC), due to their relatively short carbon chain, this process is noticeably shorter and at the same time more economical and efficient. Why is already a single dose of MCT oil considered to be a fast and efficient source of energy [2], which is particularly useful under training conditions? It is all due to the specific structure of MCTs, which makes the process of digestion noticeably simpler. If only because the body does not need to engage all the enzymes necessary for fat emulsification. In addition, MCT acids do not require a transporter and are burnt in a very short time (thus not deposited as adipose tissue – the conversion takes place in the liver), providing more valuable energy than in the process of burning glucose.

MCTs in clinical medicine

Due to their unique properties, MCT fatty acids are increasingly being used in clinical medicine, mainly to support the treatment of diseases associated with malnutrition or malabsorption. They are much better absorbed than long-chain fatty acids, plus the digestion process takes place excluding the intestines. Interestingly, MCT oil is also used as an aid in the treatment of celiac disease and epilepsy, among others [3]. When used regularly, it can have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota by reducing the amount of E. coli bacteria.

It should be mentioned that MCT fats are also safe for patients with inflammatory bowel disease, newborns and young children. They are also used for premature babies, who may have problems digesting fats that involve the pancreas.

How to use MCT oil

To learn more about the correct use of MCT oil and for dosage guidelines, I encourage you to visit our detailed post on how to use MCT oil. There you will find valuable information to help you get the most out of this supplement, while keeping you healthy and comfortable.

Potential side effects of MCT oil

MCT oil contains a number of properties that make its use so important. However, too high a dose or improper use can cause potential side effects. We wrote about how to avoid them in the entry.


  • [1] “Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • [2] Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism,” PLOS ONE
  • [3] “Medium-chain triglycerides for home treatment of intractable childhood epilepsy,” The Lancet
  • [4] “The use of medium-chain triglycerides in gastrointestinal disorders,” Practical Gastroenterology
  • [5] “Thermogenic effect of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in man,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • [6] “Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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