Can MCT Oil Help You Lose Weight?
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Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of saturated fat that are found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy fat. How is MCT oil made and is there strong evidence linking MCT oil and weight loss?
MCT oil is made through a man-made process called fractionation. This involves extracting and isolating MCTs (most commonly from coconut oil). Coconut oil naturally contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides. Though the ones most often extracted are either caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) or a combination of both. Reading the ingredient list on the bottle will inform you as to what type of medium chain triglycerides are found in the bottle.
MCT oil is more efficiently absorbed in the body compared to long chain fatty acids such as olive oil or soybean oil. MCT oil is absorbed directly into the portal blood and does not need bile for absorption. It is primarily metabolized in the liver. This altered absorption and metabolism prevents it from being easily stored as fat in the body.
An analysis of clinical research looked at 13 different trials and found that modest weight loss resulted in individuals who consumed MCTs compared to individuals not taking MCTs. MCTs reduced body weight by 0.51kg, reduced waist circumference by 1.46 cm, and hip circumference by 0.79 cm when compared to a control group not taking MCTs. Perhaps this weight loss resulted as MCTs have been said to be more satiating. Thus it takes less MCT oil as compared to olive oil or soybean oil to get the same full feeling.
MCT oil, no matter how it is derived, is a type of saturated fat. Evidence shows that saturated fats can raise LDL cholesterol in the blood and this can contribute to heart disease. Thus the American Heart Association suggests limiting dietary consumption of saturated fats.
MCT oil is high in calories. 1 Tablespoon of MCT oil contains 14g of fat, 100% of which is saturated and 115 calories. Because it is high in calories, eating it with abandon and hoping for weight loss is counterproductive. Since MCT oil is a type of saturated fat and saturated fats have been shown to increase cholesterol levels, it is worth thinking twice about how MCTs are used in your diet. Finally, results from the above review article showed a very small additional weight loss of 1 pound when MCT oils were consumed when compared to long chain fatty acids. Ultimately more research on the topic of MCT oils and weight loss is needed at this time.
Originally published on 23 April 2019,
Updated: 30 November 2019