Healthy fat is in right now. And the emerging research on its importance for countless bodily functions means it’s clear there’s a place for healthy fat in our diets.
MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil is perhaps the rising star of this trend.
That’s because proponents have claimed that MCT oil products support everything from weight loss to athletic performance. Today we’ll examine these claims, and talk about the best MCT oil supplement options on the market.
MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) are fats found in foods like dairy, palm kernel, and most abundantly, coconut oil.
Most fats are technically made of “long-chain triglycerides.” This means they’re made up a long chains of carbon and hydrogen.
Their medium chain length allows them to be quickly absorbed or turned into ketones, a non-carbohydrate source of energy that helps control the body’s metabolism.
MCT oil in its supplement form contains a concentrated source of man-made MCT. The oil is made through fractionation, a process that isolates and extracts MCT from palm kernel or coconut oil.
MCT oil typically consists of one or a combination of medium-chain fatty acids, including caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), and capric acid (C10). So, there’s a good chance you’ll see those ingredients listed on an MCT oil label.
MCT oil, at least in the media, is known primarily for its ability to aid weight loss.
MCT oil is also often marketed as a performance-enhancing supplement, although evidence isn’t strong. This study showed that eating a pre-workout snack containing MCT reduced lactate acid build-up during exercise, but this difference compared to the control group was small. Proponents of it claim that it’s most impactful when in ketosis, a state where our body has shifted from using carbohydrates to fats as its primary fuel source.
In addition, MCT oil can also potentially help with a variety of health issues.
Due to its role in ketone production, studies suggest that MCT might improve brain functioning and minimize symptoms of Alheimzer’s disease.
According to a different study, MCT might also help treat epilepsy, as ketogenic diets have shown to help manage the disorder in the past.
Beyond that, we can get into a host of interesting discussions about the health benefits of a ketogenic diet, but that’s a murky topic we’ll save for another article.
The bottom line is, MCT oil is a healthy fat. It can be a great alternative to salad dressing, a useful addition to smoothies (especially if you’re bulking), and easy morning fuel if you’re fasting and trying to limit your blood sugar spikes.
All of the products on our list are third-party tested.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Performance Lab MCT contains only one ingredient: Organic MCT Oil derived from non-GMO organic coconuts.
As mentioned, coconut is the best source of MCTs in nature, and Performance Lab has distilled that from organic, non-GMO coconuts. It contains a blend of C8/C10 MCTs. You even know the exact ratio, a 60:40 split of C8 and C10. This precise ratio you won’t find with other products. These are the two forms of MCT used most extensively in research, and seem to be the most effective.
It’s USDA organic certified, vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and free of anything else you’re thinking.
For its unbeatable quality, Performance Lab MCT is our #1 pick.
Nature’s Way Organic MCT Oil is right up there with Performance Lab. It only consists of only Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10) derived from organic coconut, so you don’t have to worry about any filler ingredients. You can mix it into your favorite shake, smoothie, and coffee or add it to your yogurt and salad. It contains a two-month supply if taking the recommended one tablespoon (15 ml) per day.
Microingredient’s Organic MCT Oil Powder is perfect if you prefer a powder-based supplement.
Or, you might just like to sneak your health supplements into a tasty beverage. This powder can be added to any shake, smoothie, or coffee and even comes with a cup for scooping. It’s vegan and made of Caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) derived from organic coconut, so you know you’re getting what you need and nothing else. It provides about forty servings. This makes it a good option for “bulletproof” coffee, since it’ll mix better than pure oil options.
NOW Foods Caprylic Acid is a capsule-based supplement for the most affordable cost on our list. Each capsule contains 600mg of pure c8 MCT oil derived from coconut and palm kernel oils. Plus, each bottle contains a 100-day supply if you take the recommended amount of one capsule per day. That’s 100 servings for just over $10.
NOW Sports MCT oil is derived from sustainable coconut and palm kernel oil. What’s cool about this product is that it can not only be used as a substitute for conventional oils like sauces and salad dressings, but it also comes in multiple flavors for all of your cooking needs. You can get about sixty servings if taking the recommended one tablespoon (15 ml) per day. It comes in a glass bottle, which is a bonus for those of who realize how terrible plastic is for just about everything.
Sports Research MCT Oil is a great option for alternative diets. It’s vegan, dairy, gluten-free, and organic. You can mix a tablespoon (15 ml) of this into any shake, smoothie, or dressing for an added energy boost. It’s a 32-ounce bottle, so this is also a great bulk option at a fair price point. Plus, it’s unflavored which means it can be used in any recipe.
And unflavored MCT oil truly tastes like nothing.
Happen to need an MCT oil that doubles as a coffee creamer? Dr. Mercola’s Keto Creamer can be mixed with any beverage but tastes especially good when paired with coffee. It contains both caprylic acid (C8) and grass fed butter, which naturally has MCT in it. It’s one of the more specific and expensive options on the list (providing only 15 servings per package), but if you’re a coffee lover, it’s worth the try.
The first, obvious group is those on a ketogenic diet or those trying to enter ketosis. Along these lines, if you’re on a low-carb diet, extra MCT oil can help give you the energy you need, since they digest quickly like carbohydrates.
However, there’s no question that MCT oil can be a part of a healthy diet for most people.
The health media, as they do, tend to take benefits out of proportion. There’s no doubt that MCT can be a part of a healthy diet that helps you lose body fat. However, in and of itself, it’s not magic, and drinking MCT oil is a bad idea that won’t lead to fat loss.
When it comes to weight management, diet, training, and sleep are the key factors. MCT oil can play a role in that.
MCT oil is definitely a great energy source. In some situations, like while on a calorie-restricted diet, MCT oil can keep your energy levels up.
Again, this is a big claim thrown around. However, there isn’t much to support it. In fact, a meta-analysis on this from 2021 concluded that MCT oil had no effect on cholesterol, LDL, or HDL levels.
Proponents of MCT have gone as far to say that it can improve mental clarity and cognition. However, this is again a bit of an exaggeration from the available research. Some research, like this study on patients with Alzheimer’s disease and healthy young adults, showed increased brain energy metabolism.
However, the jury is still out on its cognitive benefits.
If you buy coconut oil, it will taste like, well, coconuts. However, these options on our list have distilled the MCTs specifically, so they’re flavorless. In salads, they give your salad the texture of dressing, and may give it a hint of coconut, but overall it won’t impact flavor much.
Yes, this is a big topic, but MCT can be a hugely useful ingredient if you’re on a keto diet and trying to increase ketone production.
For more on this, you can check out our primer on the ketogenic diet.
MCT oil is considered to be a safe supplement. There are no known adverse interactions or severe side effects.
Mild side effects include nausea and diarrhea. It is a fat, after all, so too much can upset your digestive system. Start with a normal dose. If you take too much it’ll go right through you.
People with Type 1 Diabetes should avoid taking an MCT oil supplement because of its role in ketone production. Excess ketone can lead to health risks for those with Type 1 Diabetes.
If you’re looking for a supplement to support weight loss or enhance athletic performance, MCT might be worth the try. If you’re on a keto diet, then it’s an essential.
There are four types of medium-chain triglycerides. They’re numbered based on the length of the carbon chain.
C6 – Caproic Acid
C8 – Caprylic Acid
C10 – Capric Acid
C12 – Lauric Acid
Caprylic acid and capric acid are the two types found naturally in coconut oil.
If you’re paleo, choose a product like Performance Lab that derives its MCT from coconuts.
Talk to your healthcare professional or dietitian before taking any supplement. We are not doctors, and we don’t pretend to be on the internet.