plant based nutrition - How does MCT oil help you lose weight

Can MCT Oil help you lose weight?

January 30, 2020

How does MCT oil help you lose weight?

There is a lot of buzz around MCT oil these days and for good reason. There have been numerous studies showing that adding MCT oils to your diet can fight bacteria and yeast, lessen the effects of Alzheimer's disease and Autism and help you lose weight. While these are all fascinating topics, I will focus on the latter.

But, before I do, let's back up a little bit and discuss what MCT’s are. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides.  Triglycerides are fat molecules either used by your body for energy or stored as body fat as an energy reserve. However, if we store more fat than we can metabolize, then these fat cells will actually expand, causing us to gain weight. But, if we dip into these reserves, the cells will shrink resulting in weight loss.

 But what is the connection to weight loss and MCTs?

The chemical structure of all triglycerides consists of a glycerol unit and 3 fatty acid chains. The majority of our dietary fats have a long chain, thus called long chain triglycerides, or LCTs. Long chains have anywhere from 13-21 carbon atoms and medium chains have 6-12.

Why is this difference important?

The longer the chain, the more difficult it is for our bodies to process. It must go through a complex process to be broken down before they can be used by our cells.  MTCs win here because their shorter length allows for a quick conversion to energy, thus burned quicker and less likely to be stored as fat.

MCT oil is also linked to the release of two hormones, leptin and peptide YY, to give you that full feeling, so you’ll consume less calories.

This is all starting to sound promising, so now want to know where MCT’s come from…They are predominantly extracted from coconut or palm kernels.  They are both suitable, however, Coconut is thought to be more readily absorbed than palm oil. More importantly, it’s considered sustainable in comparison to palm oil refineries responsible for deforestation and greenhouse gases.


Table 1: Approximate fatty acid content of some commonly used oils in food


Approximate grams per 100g of different chain length (numbers in bold) fatty acids

Short and medium chain Triglycerides Long chain triglycerides
4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18+
Coconut oil 0.6 7.5 6.0 44.0 16.0 8.2 2.8
Coconut cream   0.1 1.4 1.1 8.4 3.0 1.1 1.2
Butter 3.2 2.0 1.2 2.5 2.6 7.4 22 34
Palm oil 0.2 3.3 3.7 47 16.4 8.1 14.0
Olive oil 12.5 83.5


MCT oil can be in liquid or powder form and added to your favorite beverage because they are virtually tasteless. Incorporating MCT’s into your diet may be advantageous for weight loss as well as many other benefits for your overall health.

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