MCT oil and weight loss. Consider a few factors before consuming more of this product

  • 2 Minutes Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are saturated fats found in coconut, palm kernel, and milk fat. Read on to learn about how MCTs and MCT oil may aid in weight loss.

MCT oil weight loss

The connection between MCT oil and weight loss starts with understanding how it is derived

MCT oil is made through a manufactured process called fractionation, which involves extracting and isolating this fat (most commonly) from coconut oil. Coconut oil naturally contains several MCTs including caproic acid (C:6) caprylic acid (C:8), capric acid (C:10) and lauric acid (C:12).

The MCTs most often extracted from coconut oil are either caprylic acid, capric acid, or a combination. To better understand what type of MCT a product contains, read the ingredient list on your bottle or product.

What sets MCTs apart?

MCTs are more efficiently absorbed in the body than long-chain fatty acids in olive or soybean oil. MCTs are primarily metabolized in the liver and absorbed directly into the blood. This altered absorption and metabolism prevents it from being stored as easily as fat in the body.

How might MCT oil promote weight loss?

An analysis of clinical research looking at 13 different trials found that individuals who consumed MCTs experienced modest weight loss compared to individuals who did not consume them. Specifically, individuals studied experienced a weight loss of 0.51 kg, reduced waist circumference by 1.46 cm, and hip circumference by 0.79 cm compared to the control group not taking MCTs.

MCTs are considered to be more satiating than other fatty acids. In one small study, individuals consuming MCT oil reported a reduced appetite and thus a lower calorie intake after first consuming MCT oil compared to those who consumed corn oil (which contains more long-chain fatty acids). It may take less MCT oil to get the same full or satisfied feeling as other oils. Feeling full faster makes it easier to eat less and stay within your calorie budget.

What about MCT in food products?

Do you ever eat or drink products containing coconut oil, palm oil, or cow or goat milk? If so, you likely already consume MCTs, which occur naturally in these foods. You can decipher if your diet contains MCTs by reading the ingredients closely on your bars, shakes, powders, etc. Specific proportions of MCTs are available in the Staple Foods options in the MyNetDiary app.

For example, one ounce of coconut milk (often used in cooking) contains 0.041g of caproic acid, .501g of caprylic acid, .399g of capric acid, and 3.18g of lauric acid.

Potential risks of MCT oil

No matter how they are derived, MCTs and MCT oil are rich in saturated fat. Evidence shows that saturated fats can raise LDL or bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. Higher levels of LDL are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary consumption of saturated fats to 5-6% of your total daily calories. If you are following a 1600-calorie diet, this translates to about 96 calories or 11g of saturated fat per day.

Tracking MCTs in MyNetDiary

The MyNetDiary app can track four different types of MCTs, including caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. From your dashboard, go to "Settings," then "Show Nutrients in Food Log," and then tap "MCTs." This expanded nutrient-tracking feature is available with a Premium membership. However, the Android version will launch soon.

Final considerations regarding MCT oil and weight loss

Like other oils, MCT oil is high in calories. One tablespoon of MCT oil contains 14g of 100% saturated fat and 115 calories.

Because it is so caloric, adding it to coffee or eating it with abandon and hoping for weight loss is counterproductive. Due to the saturated fat content and the impact on cholesterol levels, it is worth thinking twice about how MCTs are used in your diet. Ultimately, more research on MCT oils and weight loss is needed.

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Nutrients->Fats Weight Loss->Diets
Dec 18, 2023

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