If you’ve been into keto for a while, you’ll probably have come across MCT oil. It is thought to have all sorts of properties that are good for weight loss, appetite control and extra energy. MCT is now available as a 100% concentrate in both oil and powder form and it's certainly a favourite in the ketogenic community.
While both deliver the same all-around benefits, there are some important differences between the two if you are considering using either in your current keto regime.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT or medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat and the oil is commonly sold as a supplement in many health food stores and online. Most of the fats we eat, for example, when consuming meat are long-chain triglycerides or LCTs which are considered unhealthy when consumed in large quantities.
MCT is easier to digest because it has a shorter molecule chain which means it gets absorbed into the bloodstream much more quickly. It’s made from kernel or palm oil and you can buy a 100% product or one that is a mix of both MCT and LCT.
One of the issues with keto is that it involves having a low-carb, higher-fat diet that can potentially increase levels of cholesterol. A study in 2008 found that MCT oil may have a role to play in weight loss and doesn’t seem to harm cardiovascular markers in the same way that LCT has the potential to.
How Can It Help Keto?
MCT oil became a popular addition to the keto diet because it can help blunt appetite and make you feel more full. Because it is also more easily digested, you can get the benefits of its energy release when you have started ketosis. Another study has also indicated that MCT oil may well have a beneficial effect on our gut microbiota, particularly for those who are overweight or obese.
Fans of MCT oil typically use it as a dressing for salads, take a few spoonfuls before a workout, or blend it with a low-carb smoothie or their morning coffee.
What is MCT Oil Powder?
The powdered form of MCT is made directly from the oil using a process called spray drying. One slight problem with traditional MCT oil is that it can cause stomach upsets and digestive problems if you take too much of it. There doesn’t seem to be the same issue with MCT powder and it delivers the same benefits with appetite suppression and energy release.
MCT oil is available in capsules and powders and these can certainly be used to support a healthy ketogenic diet.
The Benefits of MCT Oil Powder
Most of the benefits of MCT powder compared to traditional oil are practical. It’s easier to manage and carry around a powder than it is a liquid and most people think it is less messy. If you’re adding MCTs to your morning coffee or protein shake, it can be difficult to mix the oil whereas the powder tends to create a more creamy texture and taste.
Because MCT powder is a relatively new concept, there is little in the way of research studies concerning other potential benefits. A study in 2017, however, does suggest that MCT oil powder, because of its emulsifying nature may well deliver a more acute ketogenic response than traditional oil.
There is not much difference between taking MCT oil and MCT powder as part of your keto diet, though there is some evidence that the latter may well work faster in producing that all-important ketosis. In the end, which you choose may come down to simple preference.
The powder is certainly more convenient and easier to carry around but some traditionalists will still prefer the natural oil.
Check out our article on the differences between Xylitol vs Erythritol and why they are considered Keto-friendly sweeteners.