It sounds too good to be true: a little oil in the morning coffee and the pounds are falling off all by themselves. MCT oil is one of these dietary supplements that are widely touted as a real weapon in the fight against the kilos. In fact, there are numerous studies on the effects of the oil on metabolism and weight loss. However, the results are often contradictory. We have the most important facts about the supposed miracle oil.
The abbreviation MCT stands for "Medium Chain Triglycerides". These are medium-chain fatty acids that, in contrast to long-chain fats (LCT), break down faster and are therefore metabolized better. Instead of being stored in fat deposits, they are supposed to supply the body with energy. They are found in various vegetable and animal fats. However, the proportion of LCTs is much higher for most fats, which is why we naturally only consume a few MCT fats.
High quality MCT oils are mostly extracted from coconut oil. In contrast, the extracted oil is liquid and tasteless. However, some products also contain palm oil. If you avoid this, when buying MCT oil, you should make sure to buy a product made from pure coconut oil. There are four different medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil:
Caproic acid (C6)
Caprylic acid (C8)
Capric acid (C10)
Lauric acid (C12)
MCT oil is said to have a positive effect on weight loss for several reasons:
Promotes thermogenesis and thus fat burning
Does not accumulate in fat deposits
Produces so-called ketones in the liver
Promotes the "good" intestinal bacteria
Because MCT oil serves the body as a source of energy, it should also stimulate thermogenesis, i.e. the body's own energy consumption. With constant effort, the body should burn more calories by taking it. At the same time, MCTs seem to have fewer calories than LCTs themselves. If you replace long-chain fats with medium-chain fats, you also consume fewer calories. However, with a natural diet, it is not possible to completely replace LCTs with MCTs because most foods contain both. In addition, many essential fatty acids such as omega 3 or 6 are long-chain.
MCT oil is also likely to be interesting for people who want to lose weight with a ketogenic diet. This form of nutrition largely avoids carbohydrates in order to get into the state of ketosis. The body no longer draws its energy from carbohydrates as usual, but converts fats into so-called ketones in order to gain its energy. This will burn fat faster. However, medium-chain fatty acids should also be converted into ketones without a lack of carbohydrates in the liver. Nutritionists suspect that the increased ketone production from MCT oil is also the reason for the appetite-suppressing effects.
Another positive effect on the metabolism is said to result from the fact that MCT oil promotes the "good" intestinal bacteria. Studies have found that the intestinal flora of leaner and overweight people differs, which is why a change in the intestinal flora can lead to better fat burning.
The effects that MCT oil uses to fight our stubborn love handles sound a bit like the Avengers of the diet industry. But can fat really be fought with fat? Several studies have already addressed this question. In some, a significant weight loss was actually found. The participants in a Japanese study who had eaten an MCT instead of an LCT margarine lost significantly more over a period of 12 weeks than the control group.
The thermogenic effect of the oil was also proven in a study. In a study conducted in 2008, women burned an average of 40 to 50 calories a day while taking MCT oil, and men even burned 43 to 63 calories. However, this does not even correspond to a small chocolate bar.
Some of these dietary supplements also promise a thermogenic effect:
However, there are also studies with conflicting results. In addition, the German Nutrition Society has criticized the attempts that have been carried out so far for only examining the short-term effects of the oil. Some study results suggest, for example, that the metabolism gets used to the MCT boost and that after some time of regular consumption, the calorie consumption returns to its original state.
Do you want to test whether MCT oil can also help you lose weight? Then there are several ways to incorporate the oil into your diet. An amount of 5 to 10 grams a day should be enough. For example, some athletes swear by the oil before training in an espresso to drink. But it did in the studies for baking used. You shouldn't use it only for frying, as it quickly forms smoke when heated. However, since it is relatively tasteless, you can also use a spoonful of the oil add to your smoothie, porridge or morning coffee.
Again and again, MCT oil is mentioned in connection with the so-called bulletproof coffee. A mix of filter coffee, butter and coconut oil or MCT oil that replaces breakfast, provides an energy kick and is long-lasting. A few years ago, the drink was particularly popular in Silicon Valley. It is questionable whether butter coffee really helps you lose weight.
As is the case with most superfoods, MCT oil is not only said to have a number of positive properties. In addition to weight loss, there are the following effects that are always associated with MCT oil:
Performance increase in athletes
Improve memory performance
Strengthening the immune system and intestinal health
A performance-enhancing effect of the MCT oil is suspected due to the rapid availability of the energy for the cells. Many competitive athletes report experiencing a long-lasting energy boost after taking MCT oil in espresso. So far, however, this physical effect has not really been proven. In studies that examined the influence of MCT oil on endurance, no or even slightly negative effects were mostly observed.
Our brain also needs energy, which is why it is also assumed to have a positive influence on concentration and memory. The main reason for this assumption is the ketones produced, which are supposed to supply the brain with energy faster than glucose. In fact, attempts have already been made to use MCT oil in Alzheimer's therapy. While minor successes have been noted in some patients, there is still no clear evidence that MCT oil is an effective remedy for the disease.
Last but not least, the medium-chain fats should also have a positive effect on intestinal health and thus the immune system. It is said to be antibacterial and suppresses certain disease-promoting strains of bacteria in the intestine. This is suggested, among other things, by a study from the Journal of Biochemistry from 1995. Here the milk with which infants were fed was mixed with MCTs. However, no clear conclusions can be drawn from the study. In a study from 2013, an antimicrobial effect was found especially with the medium-chain fatty acid laurin.
In addition to the positive effects, MCT oil is also said to have some side effects. Those who start taking should not exaggerate. Too much oil can cause digestive problems if the gastrointestinal tract is not used to it. Anyone who reacts to greasy food with diarrhea, bloating or abdominal pain in general can expect these symptoms even after taking MCT oil.
If you don't drink an entire bottle of MCT oil right away, a test won't hurt at least. However, you shouldn't expect miracles either. In combination with a balanced diet and exercise, MCT oil can (at least in some people) lead to additional success in losing weight. However, if you're overweight causes serious health problems, you shouldn't rely on the oil alone and consult with your doctor. The German Society for Nutrition, at least, does not recommend MCT oil as a means of obesity therapy.