Saturday, September 15, 2007

MCT Oil Advantages

Many of you reading this blog will be scratching your head right now. What in the heck is MCT Oil? What does it have to do with the focus of this blog? Let me tell you, it has plenty to do with all aspects of this blog, brain health, low carb diet, and WLS. So sit back and take a look at this wonderful addition to your nutritional arsenal.

MCT--medium chain triglycerides--are fats that are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oil. MCT's are more easily and rapidly digested than other types of fats, as they require lower amounts of enzymes and bile acids for intestinal absorption. MCT's are metabolized very quickly in the liver and are reported to encourage an increase in energy expenditure, while decreasing fat storage. Numerous studies suggest that substituting MCT Oil for other fats in a healthy diet may therefore help to support healthy weight and body composition.

MCT's have been shown to be a good addition to anyone's way of eating. It promotes weight loss. Improves appetite control. Is beneficial in for exercise and athletic performance. Improves thyroid function. Improves heart health. Improves your immunity. Improves brain health when used in conjunction with a ketogenic diet. Jump starts ketosis when following a typical Atkins's type diet. Thus decreasing the induction side-effect of the dreaded "Atkins Flu". Assists in calcium, magnesium and amino acid absorption in people with malabsorption issues--think WLS.

Medium-chain triglycerides were first used in the mid-1900s to reduce seizures with the help of the ketogenic diet. In the 1980s, MCTs became popular in sports as a substitute for normal dietary fats or oils. They quickly became a favorite energy source for many athletes, such as marathon runners, who participate in endurance sports. These athletes require a quick source of energy, which is readily supplied by carbohydrates. However, diets high in carbohydrates may cause rapid increase in insulin production, resulting in substantial weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. MCT is also a form of fat; therefore, it is high in calories. MCTs do not cause weight gain because they stimulate thermogenesis (the process in which the body generates energy, or heat, by increasing its normal metabolic, fat-burning rate). A thermogenic diet, which is high in medium-chain triglycerides, has been proposed as a type of weight loss regime.

MCTs are the preferred forms of fat for many patients with fat malabsorption problems. Many diseases cause poor fat absorption. For instance, patients with pancreatic insufficiency do not have enough pancreatic enzymes to break down LCTs. In children with cystic fibrosis, thick mucus blocks the enzymes that assist in digestion. Another fat absorption condition is short-bowel syndrome, in which parts of the bowel have been removed due to disease.(think WLS here) Stressed or critically ill patients also have a decreased ability to digest LCTs. Unlike LCTs, medium-chain triglycerides are easily absorbed by patients with malabsorption conditions. These patients benefit most from oral preparations that contain MCTs as the primary source of fat (up to 85% of fat caloric intake). Several scientific studies have shown MCT to be effective in treating fat malabsorbtion, chronic diarrhea, and weight loss in patients with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Coconut oil, a natural MCT, is well known in the low carb community. Most use it everyday. Many just swallow a big ol' spoonful at a time. I use it for sauteing veggies and in my daily coffee. The research behind the benefits of coconut is vast. During the early days, coconut oil was an important part of traditional medications. People used herbs and parts of certain trees. Coconut oil concoctions applied directly to wounds or swollen areas provided quick healing.

Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid. Also, approximately 6-7% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are capric acid. Capric acid is another medium chain fatty acid, which has a similar beneficial function when it is formed into monocaprin in the human or animal body. Monocaprin has also been shown to have antiviral effects against HIV and is being tested for antiviral effects against herpes simplex and antibacterial effects against chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacteria.
Research is underway on the effects of MCT Oil in WLS. It has already been shown to be beneficial in weight loss and appetite control. Now they want to look at it's effects just with WLS.
Caroline Apovian, M.D., Director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Boston University, has been engaged in clinical studies related to various dietary and drug effects on weight reduction. These studies include weight loss in subjects on a VLCD and sibutramine versus placebo; a prospective study of risk factors for heart disease in subjects pre- and post-gastric bypass surgery; an investigation of an MCT oil-based liquid diet and the effects on weight loss; endothelial function in obese subjects on a weight-loss program; hypocaloric-hyperprotein enteral nutrition versus relative normocaloric enteral nutrition in critically ill medical patients; interventions to enhance adherence to obesity guidelines by providing four-hour workshops on obesity treatment to primary care physicians with patient chart follow-up; and a randomized, controlled study to examine the relationship between changes in plasma GIP levels and other gastrointestinal peptides following gastric bypass surgery in obese patients.
Here is one such study done in conjunction with a very low calorie diet(VLCD) like many who have WLS.

Value of VLCD supplementation with MCT

BACKGROUND: Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are energetically less dense, highly ketogenic, and more easily oxidised than long chain triglycerides (LCT). MCT also differ from LCT in their digestive and metabolic pathways.
OBJECTIVE: To test the effects of MCT supplementation during a very low calorie diet (VLCD).
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Three groups of tightly matched obese women with body mass index (BMI)>30 kg/m(2) received an isoenergetic (578.5 kcal) VLCD (Adinax, Novo Vital, Sweden) enriched withMCT or LCT (8.0 and 9.9 g/100 g Adinax respectively) or a low-fat (3 g/100 g) and high-carbohydrate regimen. The diets were administered over 4 weeks. Body composition was measured with DEXA and appetite/satiety-according to Blundell. Beta hydroxybutyric acid concentration in plasma and nitrogen excretion in urine was measured during consecutive days of VLCD. The study was performed in a randomised double-blind manner.
RESULTS: TheMCT group showed a significantly greater decrease in body weight during the first 2 weeks. The contribution of body fat to the total weight loss was higher while the contribution of fat-free mass (FFM) was lower. TheMCT group had a higher concentration of ketone bodies in plasma and a lower nitrogen excretion in urine. Hunger feelings were less intense while satiety was higher. These differences were observed during the first 2 weeks of treatment and gradually declined during the third and fourth weeks.
CONCLUSIONS: Replacement of LCT byMCT in the VLCD increased the rate of decrease of body fat and body weight and has a sparing effect on FFM. The intensity of hunger feelings was lower and paralleled the higher increase of ketone bodies. These effects gradually declined, indicating subsequent metabolic adaptation. Further studies are required to confirm the protein-sparing and appetite-suppressing effects ofMCT supplementation during the first 2 weeks of VLCD treatment.
There is so much research out there on the benefits of MCT oil, I could spend days writing about it. You can check it all out for yourself with these links.

Take the time to look over the research presented here. As always---be proactive in your health. Never get caught up in "group think." Look at the research. Make your own judgments about your health.
Whenever you’re tempted to think that just because a whole lot of people believe something, that it must be true, remember the words of Nobel prize winner, Anatole France (1844-1924):

If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this informative post; I spend so much time reading stuff because there's so much out there I often forget about something I intended to research in the first place!
I've had a sealed jar of organic coconut oil sitting in my fridge for some time now, not knowing what to do with it besides (your advice to me a while ago) use it to lighten my coffee; I had no idea this could actually help move weight loss along while nurturing the body with nutrients!
I'd love to know what other uses this stuff can be applied to--you mentioned sauteeing--what else? I can use this just like I would butter or olive oil, you think?

BamaGal said...

Adam, you have to be careful with the sauteeing of the veggies---coconut oil has a low burn point. I make my own mayo with coconut oil and olive oil---delicious.
Tropical Traditions has a cookbook just for using coconut oil. In most of the research I did above---the idea was to take a tablespoon before meals. It acts as an appetite suppressant.
I've already decided to look into the research behind the thermogenic diet. There may be a blog post about it if I find enough info.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read what you have to say about coconut oil and the thermo diet aspect of it--tell me I'm not crazy, but this stuff is rock solid straight out of the fridge right? What a pain in the ass to work with when it's cold! Probably should get into the habit of taking it out a few minutes before deciding to use it, nu?
You got a mayonnaise recipe for me?
I noticed every single thing on the internet or supermarket is made with soybean oil, which I think is a no-no, right?

The Former Donut Junkie said...


Excellent post on the benefits of coconut oil. I've been taking it for about 6 weeks and have seen several positive benefits.

What brands have you tried and what is your favorite? I currently favor Barlean's Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

I also read your posts over at and enjoy them much [I am PP4Life]. I also have a low-carb blog, entitled "Life Without Donuts". The writing helps in gaining wisdom for our own health and is an additional accountability help as well.


BamaGal said...

Adam, you are corret commercial mayo is soy oil--that is why I make my own. Coconut oil does not require refrigeration. Because of the high saturated fat content it will not become rancid. The shelf life is quite long--some sites say up to 5 years in a cool, dark place between 50 and 75 degrees.
I scoured the net and will be posting some recipes for it today.

Ron---a fellow southerner--thanks for stopping by--I love your posts on the board. I will be checking out your blog, of course. Blogging is a good accountability tool. It is also a way to educate others. That is my sole purpose for this blog. A way to leave footprints of sort. Many people are disgusted with healthcare today and seek there own answers. Things I post about fly in the face of conventional approaches to dieting, mental health, and WLS.

The Former Donut Junkie said...


Your Coconut Oil post was so excellent I added a link to it in a new post I just published entitled, "Coconut Oil -- Don't Leave Home Without It!"

And yes, it is great to be a part of a grass roots effort to educate and encourage folks to take control of their own health and quit going with the 'flow'.


Alix said...

Hi there,
GREAT post on MCT and coconut oil. I'm a holistic nutritionist and some of my clients take MCT for the capryllic acid which is great for candida overgrowth. Thanks, I learned a ton.
- Alix

BamaGal said...

Alix---thanks for the link here--I'm very familiar with your blog. I subscribe to the feed. MCT has been a great addition to my eating plan. Besides the health benefits, it just makes things taste better.

Robert Park said...

A small caveat on MCT oils; they have a downside that (as far as I can determine) has not yet been recognised.

I have been taking MCTs for about 6 weeks at various amounts daily from a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful. Its benefits are beginning to show. My wife who has joined me in this venture suffers a little from ADHD and depression and the early indications are that those MCTs are stablising her behaviour. During this period there has only been one day in which her symptoms showed which is most unusual.

I have suffered from ridged finger nails for as long as I can remember but since taking this oil, except for the nail on one thumb, the ridges on the other nails have almost gone; this has never before happened. The energising effect did occur but seemed to disappear after a few days. At 76 my legs were beginning to weaken whenever climbing stairs and the arches of both feet began to fall yet otherwise (except for one point which will be mentioned shortly) I am in relatively good health. Interestingly, since adding MCTs to my diet the strength in my legs and the fallen arches has been restored . Of more interest to those of my generation is that the sagging flesh that occurs with advanced aging seems to be restoring itself and my skin too seems to be whiter and healthier.

However, even with those interesting benefits a 'but' exists. September 1990 saw me having a quadruple by-pass and I subsequently suffered regularly from angina until I discovered a connection between polyunsaturated fats and the angina. I abandoned polyunsaturated fats in my diet and since avoiding this substance no longer suffer from angina. That was until I started on the MCT oils when the angina returned with a vengence. It took about 24 hours to be noticed. Interestingly, on taking coconut oil rather than the extracted MCT oils this effect does not occur so do please take heed.

HoneyBee said...

Bama Hon-
I somehow missed this blog post until you referenced it on LCF.

Great links and as always- wonderfully informative blog post.

thank you

dianep888 said...

So as far as I am reading the coconut oil is the best way to supplement the MCT.. not to use the oil. A site I found has coconut oil in capsule form is this alright? Or must it be in the jar and take a tsp to a tablespoon 3x a day..
My email is
I am very anxious to hear a response on this please..