The fitness world is abuzz with hype for a so-called “magic” oil that can do everything from boost your energy to help you burn calories. But is MCT oil all that or just another fad? We put this popular product under the microscope to see whether we’ve truly struck oil.
First off, what the hell is MCT oil?
If you’ve heard anyone preach about nutrition, you already know that there are healthy fats and then those you want to avoid (like the plague). Those in the “good for you” category include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, and you’ll typically find them avocados, almonds, olive oil and wild varieties of fish like salmon.
In the “avoid” camp, you’ve got saturated and trans fats. Stuff like frozen pizza, microwave popcorn and store-bought cakes are loaded with these bad compounds. But, there is an exception to the rule.
MCT oil—the fabled elixir of body builders and fitness fanatics across the globe—is actually derived from saturated fats. However, unlike its ilk, studies have linked the oil to a variety of health benefits including lowering your cholestrol, cinching your calorie intake and positively changing your body composition.
While athletes prize MCT oil for the quick energy boost it produces—it’s easy to digest, so it’ll give you a nitrous boost by the glug—it could be a positive addition to most people’s menus. Does that mean it’s open season for this saturated fat? Not exactly. Research is still in its infancy, and most dietary guidelines recommend limiting your intake to around 10% of your TDE.
Okay cool, so what are the benefits?
Before you reach for the coconut oil—one of the main sources of MCT—it’s wise to know what you’re getting yourself into. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits this athlete’s exlixir might deliver:
1. It Could Help You Lose Weight
Staying satiated—i.e., feeling full—is often the way to stop your endless snacking (or secret meals) in its tracks. One study found that MCT oil could help top you up, leaving you less likely to gorge on unnecessary fare. In the research, it emerged that MCT oil might spark a release of hormones that let your stomach know you’ve reached your limit. Ultimately, this cascade could reduce your appetite, resulting in less of that pesky snacking.
2. It Could Improve Your Workout Performance
A study found that MCT oil could help boost your athletic chops, giving you the legs to not only crush your sets but do it faster, too. Now, the sample size for this research was tiny, but it did yield some interesting results.
In the study, six veteran cyclists tackled the same exercise across three separate days. As part of the test, they had to pedal through a two hour warm-up and then a 40km route. During their rides, the cyclists glugged down either a 10% carbohydrate solution, a 4.3% MCT beverage or a drink containing both ingredients.
The results? Those knocking back the carbs-MCT combo performed better than their peers, needing just around 67 minutes to finish the ride. Note: those drinking MCT-only mixtures were the slowest.
3. It Could Change Your Body Composition
If you want to take the fight to your dad bod, MCT oil could be the elixir you need (just make sure you don’t overshoot your recommended calorie threshold). One study found that the oil could help reduce your waist circumference and prevent obesity.
Got you. So where can I get this MCT oil?
Your cupboards and fridge are probably stocked with a few items containing MCT. For instance, milk, coconut oil and even butter are packed with the stuff. But for a more target approach, we recommended these three quick glugs:
1. Credé Coconut MCT Oil
The manufacturers recommend one to three teaspoons daily, but we prefer mixing this in with our meals or smoothies.
2. Lifematrix MCT Oil
This is MCT oil in its purest form. Plus, they’ve got a recipe for MCT-bolstered coffee to help you start your day strong.
3. Sally-Ann Creed MCT Oil
Sold as the ideal addition to any ketogenic diet, this bottle will give you all of the benefits of MCT with an easy pour.
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