MCT oil is an increasingly popular health supplement. It’s great for supporting ketosis, and research indicates it may benefit weight loss and athletic goals. And since it’s usually derived from coconut oil, it’s fairly inexpensive.
In this guide, we’ve laid out the 6 best MCT oil brands. Farther down, we’ve laid out the research-backed benefits of MCT oil.
|Best Overall: Sports Research – Premium MCT Oil||from $19.95 Buy on Amazon|
|Best Organic: Viva Naturals – Organic MCT Oil||$27.74 Buy on Amazon|
|Best Creamy: Onnit – Delicious MCT Oil Creamer||$27.95 Buy on Amazon|
|Best for Keto: Perfect Keto – MCT Oil Softgels||from $7.99 Buy on Amazon|
|Best Emulsified: Sports Research – Emulsified MCT Oil||$25.95 Buy on Amazon|
|Best Powder: Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder||$38.99 Buy on Amazon|
Top 6 Best MCT Oil Brands
Best MCT Oil Overall
This is one of the best MCT oils Amazon has to offer. It’s one of the best reviewed MCT oils, and that’s not without good reason. It’s 100% pure MCT oil derived from non-GMO coconuts, perfect for supporting a keto diet or general health goals.
Best Organic MCT Oil
This is one of the best organic MCT oils on the market. It’s 100% pure MCT oil derived from organic, non-GMO coconuts. Pure, flavorless, and odorless, this is a great option for mixing into tea, coffee, or smoothies.
Best Creamy MCT Oil
Sometimes flavorless and odorless isn’t what you’re craving first thing in the morning. This dairy-free, creamy MCT oil is a great way to splash some flavor into your morning coffee or smoothie. And with each of its 5 delicious flavors, it manages to keep its carb count super low, meaning that this creamy MCT oil still supports ketosis.
Best MCT Oil for Keto Support
When you’re in a rush, you may not have time to make a keto-friendly smoothie or a cup of MCT oil coffee. When you just need a quick hit of ketones for an energy boost, Perfect Keto’s softgels is one of the best MCT oils for keto support. Just take 3 softgel capsules for easy, on-the-go ketones.
Best Emulsified MCT Oil
One of the biggest disadvantages of MCT oil is that it doesn’t always mix easily into drinks. To solve this problem, say hello to some of the best emulsified MCT oil on the market. The MCTs are thoroughly blended and mixed in with other ingredients to form a smooth cream. This stuff mixes in much more easily than regular MCT oil.
Best MCT Oil Powder
The Perfect Keto MCT oil powder is potentially the best MCT oil powder on the market. While most MCT oil powders have fillers and artificial ingredients, this unflavored powder contains nothing but MCT oil powder and acacia fiber. And with each of the 3 delicious flavors, only two or three more natural ingredients are tossed in. It’s a great way to splash up coffee, tea, smoothies, or whatever you can get creative with.
What Is MCT Oil?
MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCTs are fatty acids that can be easily and quickly broken down into ketones. While glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates, is usually the body’s primary source of energy, ketones can serve as an alternate energy source.
Without getting too much into the science behind MCTs, it’s helpful to know that the shorter the carbon chain (indicated by a C-number abbreviation), the quicker and easier it is for the body to turn the MCT into fuel.
The Four MCTs:
- C6: Caproic acid
- C8: Caprylic acid
- C10: Capric acid
- C12: Lauric acid
Since caproic acid and caprylic acid have the shortest carbon chains (C6 and C8, respectively), they are the most valuable MCTs for the keto diet. In our keto protein powder guide, we primarily feature powders with caproic and caprylic MCTs.
There are plenty of foods that contain MCTs, the most popular being coconut oil. However, coconut oil only contains roughly 50% MCT oils. As such, most coconut-derived MCT oils are concentrated down into pure MCTs.
MCT Oil Benefits
MCT oil has a whole slew of purported health benefits, from supporting ketosis to improving fat loss. But how much of the hype is valid? Let’s see what research has to say.
- Supporting Ketosis
During a state of ketosis, ketones are used as the body’s primary source of energy instead of glucose. This can be triggered by adhering to a high-fat, low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet. As MCT oil supplies the body with a quick dose of ketones, supplementing MCT oil can be an effective way to support ketosis.
- Weight Loss
Several studies have found that MCT oil may help with losing fat.1Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.2Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men.3Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride.
One study found that compared to olive oil, MCT oil can help boost weight loss.4Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil Subjects took 18 to 24 grams of either MCT oil or olive oil daily as part of a weight loss program, and their fat levels were monitored. At the end of the 16-week trial, the MCT oil group had lost more fat than the olive oil group.
MCT oil can also help with reducing appetite. Several studies have shown that supplementing MCT oil can help with feeling full for longer.5Coconut oil has less satiating properties than medium chain triglyceride oil This can help with reducing calorie intake, which in turn assists weight loss.
One study on MCT oil’s weight loss effects found that the oil may have an impact on fat-related genetics.6Medium‐Chain Oil Reduces Fat Mass and Down‐regulates Expression of Adipogenic Genes in Rats The study found that rats fed MCT oil had less fat than a control group. Interestingly, however, the MCT rats also demonstrated a suppression in genes related to the storage of fat.
Research suggests that MCT oil might be a good short-term source of energy for exercise.
One study looked at the effects of taking MCT oil before and during use of an exercise bike.7Metabolic availability of medium-chain triglycerides coingested with carbohydrates during prolonged exercise The study found that MCTs, particularly when consumed with carbohydrates, likely serve as a good source of energy during exercise.
This would suggest that drinking an MCT oil and carbohydrate shake may have the potential to boost exercise performance. You can do this by mixing fruits, oats, or other carbohydrate foods into an MCT oil smoothie, or by using an MCT powder with carbs, such as Viva Naturals’ MCT oil powder.
A similar study found a correlation between MCT oil and athletic performance.8Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate- and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes. Athletes were given MCT oil or a control before using an exercise bike. Compared to the control group, those who took MCT oil were able to work out longer and with less perceived effort.
Part of this has to do with the fact that MCT group had reduced lactic acid buildup. During exercise, lactic acid builds up in the muscles, which leads to a burning sensation. Lower levels of lactic acid would correlate with less perceived effort, making the exercise seem easier.
- Heart Health
MCT oil may help with reducing factors associated with heart disease. In particular, MCT oil may help with improving cholesterol levels and reducing fat mass.
One study found that compared to olive oil, supplementing MCT oil may reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.9Consumption of a functional oil rich in phytosterols and medium-chain triglyceride oil improves plasma lipid profiles in men. High levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, can increase the risk of heart disease.
In addition, research has also shown that MCT oil may increase levels of HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol.10A COCONUT EXTRA VIRGIN OIL-RICH DIET INCREASES HDL CHOLESTEROL AND DECREASES WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE AND BODY MASS IN CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE PATIENTS. High levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a decrease in risk of heart disease.
Despite the fact that MCT oil is, by definition, a collection of fats, research indicates that it is likely not harmful to heart health. One study specifically examined the effects of MCT oil on the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.11Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption as Part of a Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead to an Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared to Olive Oil The researchers found no increase in such metabolic risk factors. On the contrary, of the three subjects who started the trial with such metabolic factors, two of them no longer demonstrated any risk factors by the end of the trial.
Does MCT Oil Break a Fast?
Whether MCT oil breaks a fast depends on an individual’s goals for fasting.
By definition, consuming any calories does constitute breaking a fast. Since MCT oil contains roughly 130 calories per tablespoon, it does break a fast, technically speaking.
However, many people are mostly concerned with whether MCT oil disrupts certain benefits of fasting. These benefits may include things like maintaining ketosis, reducing oxidative stress, and boosting cellular repair processes.
Consuming even a few calories can disrupt many of these benefits. For example, consuming calories disrupts autophagy, the process by which the body recycles damaged cells and creates new ones.12Excess leucine intake enhances muscle anabolic signaling but not net protein anabolism in young men and women.
So, in short, yes, MCT oil does break a fast and interrupt most fasting-induced health benefits.
However, most people wondering whether MCT oil breaks a fast are primarily concerned with ketosis. This is largely because MCT oil is primarily used among the keto community as a means to supply the body with ketones.
With that in mind, does MCT oil break fasting-induced ketosis? Usually not.
Fasting for 12 to 16 hours can begin to induce a state of ketosis in the body.13The effect of short-term fasting on liver and skeletal muscle lipid, glucose, and energy metabolism in healthy women and men. As such, fasting is a common method of entering ketosis.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body produces insulin to break them down into glucose to be used as energy. Insulin disrupts the production of ketones, and therefore the state of ketosis.14Insulin: understanding its action in health and disease So in order to maintain ketosis, insulin spikes must be avoided.
Consuming MCT oil does lead to a small increase in insulin, but much less than that of carbohydrates.15Effects of a single oral load of medium-chain triglyceride on serum lipid and insulin levels in man This insulin increase is usually small enough not to interrupt ketosis.
However, some MCT oil powders do contain additional carbohydrates. To avoid interrupting ketosis, it’s important to stick with MCT oil supplements that contain little to no carbohydrates, such as the aforementioned Sports Research MCT oil. Pure MCT oil will have no carbohydrate content.
MCT Oil Dosage
There is currently no official recommended dosage for MCT oil.
Most users of MCT oil take 1-2 tablespoons daily. Most manufactures also recommend 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil daily, although it may be a good idea to start with a smaller dose and work your way up.
The manufacturer-recommended MCT oil powder dosage is usually 10 grams 1-2 times daily, usually measured with the included scoop. This is roughly equivalent to 1-2 tablespoons daily of pure MCT oil.
For emulsified MCT oil and MCT oil creamers, the daily recommended dosage can vary much more. Since they typically contain several other ingredients, there can be no standard dosage.
Avoiding MCT Oil Side Effects
When first taking MCT oil, some users report symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea. Typically, these can be avoided or mitigated by starting with smaller doses of MCT oil.
To minimize the risk of unpleasant symptoms, some manufacturers recommend starting with a maximum daily dosage of only 1 tablespoon of MCT oil. After a week or two, they recommend trying a higher dose of up to 2 tablespoons daily.
When to Take MCT Oil
Research on MCT oil indicates that most of its effects are short-term. Here are some recommended timings for different goals.
- For Suppressing Hunger
MCT oil is quickly broken down into ketones, and ketones can help suppress hunger. If you’re taking MCT oil for weight loss or hunger suppression, it may be helpful to take it in the morning, or whenever you get the strongest cravings for snacks.
- As a Pre-Workout
Since MCT oil can be quickly broken down into ketones, it can be a good source of quick energy. If you want an extra boost for your workout, it may be helpful to take some MCT oil beforehand.
- For Supporting Ketosis
Many people take MCT oil as means to increase ketone levels and boost ketosis. For someone who is already maintaining a low-carb ketogenic diet, it likely doesn’t matter when MCT oil is taken.
As discussed above, pure MCT oil won’t cause enough of a spike to disrupt ketosis. As such, it’s mostly useful for getting a boost of ketone-induced energy.
MCT Oil Before Bed?
It may be beneficial to take MCT oil before bed to promote a state of ketosis, but there may be some downsides.
Since MCT oil is broken down into ketones as a quick source of energy, it can be useful for getting a little boost during the day. Taking MCT oil before bed would mean that the energy boost would essentially go to waste.
In addition, MCT oil can help with suppressing appetite. Since you likely wouldn’t be eating while you’re sleeping anyway, the appetite suppressant effect would similarly be useless.
According to research, MCT oil may be helpful for promoting weight loss, athletics, and lowering cardiovascular risk. As a bonus, MCT oil’s constituent ketones are helpful not only for promoting ketosis, but also as a quick source of energy.
And MCT oil isn’t the only way to support a ketogenic diet. For more information on keto-friendly nutrition, take a look at our keto protein powder guide.