Anyone on the ketogenic diet knows that following the restrictions takes a lot of willpower. Cutting carbohydrates out of your diet is no easy feat, even if you’re still allowed to consume filling proteins.
To make the diet more manageable, many people turn to medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil to prompt ketosis. But what is MCT oil, and which products work best for the keto diet and weight loss?
Healthy Fats and the Keto Diet
The “medium-chain” in medium-chain triglyceride refers to the number of carbon atoms within the fat’s chain. As the name suggests, MCTs have fewer carbon atoms than long-chain triglycerides and are thus smaller in size.
MCTs’ unique size makes the fat faster and easier for the body to absorb than its long-chain counterparts. In the absence of carbohydrates, the body will convert MCTs into ketones, which it uses as an alternative fuel source. Quickly converting and using MCTs for energy means the fat is less likely to be stored like long-chain triglycerides, which can lead directly to weight gain.
Though there are natural sources of MCTs, many of these sources also contain long-chain triglycerides, defeating the purpose of consuming MCTs to support your keto diet efforts. To experience MCTs’ benefits without consuming other unnecessary fats, many keto dieters turn to MCT oil, a pure source of MCTs.
MCT Supplements: From Coconuts and Kernels to Bottled Oil
MCT oil goes through various processes before it reaches its bottled state, the first being fractionation. In this process, MCT supplement producers extract MCTs such as caprylic and capric acid from coconut flesh or palm kernels.
After the fractionation process, the MCTs pass through a chemical filtration process through enzyme lipase to produce the isolated triglycerides.
The next steps vary across different MCT oil brands. Some manufacturers choose to deacidify the product, bleach it, and apply deodorant in a lab.
Are Some MCTs Better Than Others?
The term “medium-chain triglycerides” refers to a grouping of fats that contain six, eight, 10, or 12 carbon atoms. The exact number of atoms in a fatty acid chain creates the following characteristics:
- C6– Also known as caproic acid or hexanoic acid, C6 MCTs can quickly be converted into ketones. However, natural MCT sources, like coconuts, don’t contain an abundance of this MCT type. C6 MCTs also have a strange taste and smell, so many MCT oil manufacturers don’t use them in their supplements.
- C8– Caprylic acid or octanoic acid is the ideal choice for MCT oil because the body can convert it into ketones more effectively and efficiently than the other types of MCTs.
- C10– Also called capric acid or decanoic acid, you can find C10 in MCT oil either entirely or as a mixture along with C8. While this type of MCT takes slightly longer to convert to ketones, it often costs less than pure C8 MCT oils.
- C12– C12, lauric acid, or decanoic acid is the main component found in coconut oil but typically isn’t used in MCT oil because it’s relatively long length makes it harder for the body to digest and convert to ketones.
If you follow the ketogenic diet and use MCT oil to help prompt ketosis, you want to look for an MCT oil made with pure C8 MCTs. For example, C8 MCT oil from Bulletproof contains only isolated caprylic acid that the body quickly converts to ketones and uses for energy, helping keto dieters burn fat fast.
How to Choose the Right MCT Oil
Besides opting for a pure C8 option, you may want to consider these additional factors when selecting an MCT oil:
- Is it Organic?– While you can find organic MCT oil options, the body can’t use this oil for energy as efficiently because the process of making organic MCT oil does not allow for the full isolation of C8 MCTs. Instead of looking for the organic label, consider searching for brands that sell MCT oil without GMOs, pesticides, and hormones.
- Flavors– Although you will find flavorless MCT oils in the market, you can also find a few with specific flavors, such as mocha and vanilla, that you can add to drinks.
- BPA-free Packaging– While many MCT oils come in plastic bottles or packaging, you can also find bottles that are free from BPA or Bisphenol A, which is a harmful chemical for the environment.
- Budget– While C8 and C10 MCT blends generally cost less than pure C8 MCT oil, many keto dieters find it well worth it to opt for the purer product, as it makes fat burning easier.
Consider Your Needs Before Making a Choice
There are a wide array of MCT supplements from different manufacturers available on the market. However, not all MCT oils are created equal. When it comes to supporting individuals on the keto diet, pure C8 MCT oil yields the best benefits.