The Ultimate Guide to MCT oil and MCT Supplements
Article at a glance:
- MCTs are fatty acids that occur naturally in coconut oil, palm oil, goat milk and breast milk.
- MCT oil is a versatile supplement that supports weight loss, burns fat, suppresses hunter, boosts brain power and curbs cravings.
- MCTs are largely missing from the typical Western diet, so adding MCT oil to your daily routine can be a powerful way to get the benefits of smart fats.
- For the biggest benefits, you want C8 MCT oil, aka Bulletproof Brain Octane oil. C10 is a close runner-up — you’ll find it in Bulletproof XCT oil.
- Use MCT oil in whatever you’re eating or drinking right now. Drizzle it over your food, blend it into Bulletproof Coffee or make a delicious salad dressing.
What is MCT oil?
“MCT” is short for “medium-chain triglycerides.”
Triglycerides are the molecules that make up most fats, and medium-chain refers to the length of the fat molecule’s tail. These fats occur naturally in coconut oil, palm oil, goat milk and breast milk. MCT oils are commonly made from coconut oil or palm oil. Bulletproof MCT oils are made from pure coconut oil.
If you’re following a low-carb, high-fat diet like the ketogenic diet or the Bulletproof Diet, supplementing your diet with MCT oil ensures you’re getting enough fat to stay in ketosis. (That’s the state in which your body burns fat, rather than carbohydrates, for fuel.)
But that’s not the only reason people use MCT oil. It’s a great tool if you’re looking to lose weight and boost your brain power, among tons of other benefits.
MCT oil benefits
“MCT oil increases energy, endurance, metabolism, satiety and brain function, especially when compared to other forms of fat, including olive oil,” says Kelly Schmidt, RD, author of “What’s the Deal With Paleo and Primal Eating?”
MCTs are largely missing from the typical Western diet, so adding MCT oil to your daily routine can be a powerful way to get the benefits of multi-tasking smart fats. Here’s why MCT oil is so good for you:
Rapid weight loss
MCT oil can help you quickly lose weight. Studies show that MCTs, particularly C8 and C10, cause your body to burn fat and calories, no matter what kind of diet you follow.  Your body turns MCTs into alternative forms of energy called ketones, which increase your metabolic rate (aka your metabolism) and burn the fat you already have. 
And no, you don’t have to follow the keto diet to benefit from MCT oil’s effects. “People on the Standard American Diet may still lose weight from MCT oil from the positive effects it has on hunger hormones, the boost in metabolism and reduction in inflammation,” says Schmidt, although the weight loss won’t be as dramatic as someone following a ketogenic diet.
Quality fat is satiating, so MCT oil helps you feel fuller, longer — without having to think about a mid-morning snack. There’s science behind it: MCTs raise ketones. Ketones suppress ghrelin (aka your hunger hormone) and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.
This is part of the reason why Bulletproof Coffee works so well: It’s made with Brain Octane oil, which produces four times more ketones than coconut oil. When you drink a cup of creamy Bulletproof Coffee, you feel full and focused for hours.
More brain power
High-quality MCT oil turns into ketones within minutes, providing your brain with a fast jolt of energy and mental clarity.
“When someone’s carbs are low enough, MCT oil can be converted into ketones, which unlike glucose, can cross the blood-brain barrier and be used as a fuel source for brain cells,” says Schmidt.
Strengthens the gut
Research shows that MCT oil balances beneficial gut bacteria and may support your gut lining. When you have holes in your intestine, toxins, bacteria and food particles can escape and enter your bloodstream, putting you at risk for serious gastrointestinal (GI) disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and food allergies.
Boosts your workout
Studies show that MCT oil can help you exercise longer and improve your stamina.
- In one study, mice who ate a diet rich in MCTs showed more endurance during a swim test compared to mice that were fed long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).
- In another study, recreational athletes who ate foods containing MCTs for two weeks could do longer sessions of high-intensity exercises.
- People who supplemented with MCT oil lasted longer and built up less blood lactate during high-intensity interval training (HIIT). 
How does MCT oil work?
“MCT oil is digested differently as it gets absorbed directly from the gut into the liver, bypassing the physiology of being stored as fat,” says Schmidt. That means your body breaks down MCTs quicker than the long-chain triglycerides found in other fatty foods. Your liver converts MCTs into ketones — the fuel source your body produces when it burns fat for fuel.
Ketones are awesome. They increase energy, metabolism, satiety and brain function, and they’ve been shown to help curb food cravings, which makes it easier to stabilize your blood sugar and stay in ketosis.
There are four strains of MCT:
- Caproic acid (C6)
- Caprylic Acid (C8)
- Capric Acid (C10)
- Lauric Acid (C12)
For maximum ketone benefits, you want C8 MCT oil (that’s what you’ll find in Brain Octane oil). Keep reading for a detailed breakdown of each type of MCT.
Types of MCTs
Caproic acid (C6)
Technically, C6 quickly converts to ketones, but there isn’t enough of it to matter in coconut oil. Plus, it tastes bad and often results in stomach upset. If your generic MCT oil makes your throat burn or has a weird flavor, one reason may be that the distillation process didn’t remove enough of the C6.
Caprylic acid (C8): ~7% of coconut oil
This is Brain Octane oil, and it’s the all-around best MCT for ketogenic energy. It only takes three steps for your body to turn it energy for your cells. Sugar takes 26 steps. Plus, C8 produces four times more ketones than coconut oil, which means more ketone benefits like amplified energy, fat loss and metabolic burn.
Capric acid (C10): ~7% of coconut oil
This is the second shortest form of MCT. It takes more time to turn into ketone energy, but it’s more affordable than C8. Bulletproof XCT oil is a blend of C8 and C10 MCT oils, so it’s more budget-friendly than Brain Octane oil, but still meets Bulletproof’s rigorous quality standards for purity.
Lauric acid (C12): ~49% of coconut oil
C12 is what you’ll mostly find in coconut oil, but your body doesn’t treat it like an MCT. Rather than immediately getting converted into energy, lauric acid requires a pit stop in the liver. This is why it is more accurately described as a long-chain triglyceride (LCT), not an MCT.
Lauric acid is not the same as monolaurin, an extremely potent antimicrobial that is derived from lauric acid. Lauric acid has a few antimicrobial benefits, but it’s simply not the most effective way to fuel your brain and body because it does not create energy in the brain the way that C8 and C10 do. So if you want lauric acid — and you do because it definitely has some benefits — then just eat some coconut oil.
C-14 and above
AKA the other fats in coconut oil. These are LCTs, also known as long-chain fatty acids. The exact percentage of LCTs in coconut oil depends variables like the region the coconut was grown and its time of harvest. LCTs are good as a fuel source, but they are also widely available in other oils, and you won’t benefit from eating a lot more of them compared to eating true medium chain fatty acids.
MCT oil vs. coconut oil
Coconut oil is great for cooking and baking, but if you want fat-burning, brain-powering ketones, MCT oil is better. That’s because coconut oil contains different strains of fats (see C12 and C14 above). Not all of these strains are equally effective for energy storage and fat loss.
You might have heard that coconut oil is a source of MCTs. The reality is that you can’t get enough of the really useful MCTs (C8 and C10) from just eating coconut oil alone. For the biggest return on your energy investment, you want pure, distilled C8 MCT oil like Brain Octane oil. C10 is a close runner-up — and you can find it in XCT oil.
Plus, unlike coconut oil, Bulletproof MCT oils are liquid at room temperature and they don’t taste like coconuts. You can use them in pretty much anything, from Bulletproof Coffee to salad dressings.
MCT oil vs. MCT powder
MCT oil powder is a convenient way to bring MCTs on the go, but how does it compare to MCT oil? It depends on the MCT oil powder you choose. Not all products are created equal, and some MCT oil powders might even kick you out of ketosis.
With MCT oil, what you see is what you get. It doesn’t require a carrier oil or extra additives. For instance, Brain Octane Oil is 100% triple-distilled C8 MCT oil. It’s expeller-pressed, sourced completely from coconuts and it isn’t mixed with any unnecessary chemicals. Learn more about how Bulletproof produces pure, ultra-high quality MCT oilspure, ultra-high quality MCT oils.
MCT oil powder is a little different. It’s produced via a process called spray drying, in which MCT oil is sprayed onto a carrier material, which forms a powder. So, when you’re considering MCT oil powders, you have to ask these questions:
- What type of MCT oil are you getting? C8 is the best MCT oil because your body most easily converts it into ketones. C10 is a close runner-up. The manufacturer should clearly disclose what type of MCT you’re getting in your powder.
- What is the carrier powder? Some carrier powders will actually kick you out of ketosis because they spike your insulin levels. If you see maltodextrin or glucose on the ingredients list, just say no.
- What is the source of the MCT oil? MCT oil is also found in palm oil, but the palm oil industry is problematic, to say the least. Make the planet-friendly choice by buying MCT oil sustainably sourced from coconuts.
- What are the other ingredients? The ingredients list on your MCT oil powder shouldn’t be a mile long. If it’s flavored, make sure the manufacturers aren’t sneaking in artificial sweeteners that will wreck your gut. Check out this list of gut-friendly sweeteners that won’t kick you out of ketosis.
- How much fat do I get? Because each serving also contains a carrier powder, you might not consume as much fat as you would if you used liquid MCT oil alone. Look for a powder that clearly lists how much MCT oil you get per serving. As an example, Bulletproof InstaMix clearly states that each packet contains 2 teaspoons of grass-fed butter and 2 teaspoons of Brain Octane Oil.
Another note on carrier powders: Acacia gum and resistant dextrin are great carriers because they’re actually good for your gut.  Dextrin, the carrier powder used in InstaMix, is a resistant starch. Although it’s technically a carbohydrate, resistant starch isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it functions as a prebiotic, which feeds your good gut bacteria. Learn more about prebiotics here.
MCT oil vs. Bulletproof Brain Octane oil
- Most ketogenic MCT oil: Brain Octane oil is 100 percent C8 MCT oil and nothing else. C8 is the most ketogenic fatty acid in coconuts. That means more ketone benefits like lasting energy, increased fat-burning and fewer cravings.
- Purity: Brain Octane is triple-distilled and lab-tested for purity. No C12, no solvents, no traces of anything. Other companies may use toxic compounds in the refinement process — aka stuff you don’t want anywhere near your MCT oil.
- Sustainability: Brain Octane oil is sourced from sustainable coconut oil, not palm oil, to protect the wild orangutan population in Southeast Asia. It’s not Bulletproof to destroy rainforests.
- Produced in the USA: It’s more expensive, but it means we can monitor the quality more closely. Plus, it combats outsourcing, and the people processing Brain Octane oil get a fair wage.
- Learn more about Bulletproof MCT Oils and how Bulletproof creates a superior MCT oil.
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