5 Reasons to Use MCT Oil for Ketosis

5 Reasons to Use MCT Oil for Ketosis


5 Reasons to Use MCT Oil for Ketosis:

Medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) are unique fatty acids that are found naturally in coconut and palm oils.  They have a remarkable ability to stabilize blood sugar and enhance ketone body production.  This process makes MCT’s a powerful tool to reduce inflammation, improve metabolism and enhance cognitive function.

The term “medium” is in reference to the length of the chain of fatty acids.  Oils can have short, medium or long chains.  Most oils are a combination of short, medium and long chain fatty acids.

Medium chain fatty acids by definition are fatty acids that contain between 6 and 12 carbon chains (1).  These include:

  • C6 – Caproic Acid
  • C8 – Caprylic Acid
  • C10 – Capric Acid
  • C12 – Lauric Acid

MCTs Are Easily Digested:

MCTs are easily digested and do not require the production and utilization of bile.  Most fatty acids depend upon bile salt emulsification in order to be metabolized and absorbed.  The production of bile is an energy dependent process that takes place in the liver.  The body stores extra bile in the gallbladder to use for high fat meals.

Individuals with a sluggish liver and gallbladder struggle to produce adequate bile.  Other individuals who struggle with malnutrition or malabsorption syndromes can easily absorb and utilize these MCTs (2).  This includes people with pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis & Crohn’s disease among others.

MCTs have a slightly lower caloric effect than typical long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).  LCFAs have 9 calories per gram while MCTs have 8.3 calories per gram (3).


How MCTs Work:

The mitochondria are small organs within your cells that are responsible for producing all the energy needed by your tissues.  Fatty acids produce energy in the mitochondria but are dependent upon the L-carnitine compound in order for entry.   MCTs provide immediate energy because they are able to cross the double mitochondrial membrane very rapidly and do not require the presence of carnitine (4).

This results in the production of excess acetyl-coA which breaks down into ketones.  The rapid formation of ketone bodies gives immediate energy and enhances brain function and athletic performance.

Many experts say that MCTs act like carbohydrates because they provide an immediate energy source.  However, MCTs do differ from carbohydrates in that they do not raise blood sugar or increase insulin levels as carbohydrates do.


What are Ketones:

The body has two major energy sources, it burns glucose or ketone bodies.  The majority of people burn glucose primarily because they are constantly supplying a steady form of sugar, starches and proteins that can be turned into blood sugar.  When one either fasts or goes on a low-carb, moderate protein and high fat diet they switch their energy source to fat.

In particular, the fatty acids are broken down into ketone bodies.  The three major forms of ketones produced in the body include Acetoacetate, Acetone and Beta-HydroxyButyric acid.  These are released into the blood from the liver when insulin levels are low and hepatic liver metabolism is increased (4).

Ketones as a Preferred Fuel For the Brain:

Ketones are unique energy producing molecules made from fatty acids.  Our bodies can make them from stored fat or from MCTs.  Ketones feed all the cells of the body, but in particular they are a preferred fuel for the brain.

Research has demonstrated that MCTs can readily cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and be oxidized by the brain (5). Thus, MCTs may provide both a direct and an indirect brain fuel source via the generation of ketones.  This is incredibly important for everyone and especially those with type 1 diabetic patients as it gives us all a strategy to preserve brain function during hypoglycemic episodes without raising blood glucose levels (6).

Ketones activate specialized regulatory proteins in the brain called brain derived neurotrophic growth factors (BDNF) (7).  BDNF works to repair, protect and enhance the function of the brain cells and the neurological networks.  BDNF also stimulates the growth of new, healthy neurons that take the place of older, dying cells.  The inability to regulate dead or dying brain cells is a risk factor for neurodegenerative disease processes.

Natural Sources of MCTs:

The best natural source of MCTs are found in coconut oil.  Palm oil, camphor tree oil, goat’s milk and grass-fed butter or ghee are all good sources of MCTs as well.  Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of C12 lauric acid.  Lauric acid is very good for the immune system which is one of the reasons why coconut oil has such tremendous health benefits.

Many individuals thrive off of grass-fed dairy products such as raw milk, kefir, yogurt and cheese.  Other individuals struggle with the lactose and the dairy proteins casein and whey.  Grass-fed butter and ghee are typically well tolerated by most individuals.

Ghee is the only dairy product that is fully pure of casein, lactose and whey.  When I have a client with skin issues (eczema or acne), autoimmune issues or leaky gut, I always start by removing all dairy except grass-fed ghee, which is often well-tolerated.

You can also get a pure MCT oil that is concentrated caprylic and capric acid.  These are processed in a manufacturing plant to remove all the longer chain fats and other compounds except these two fatty acids.  But be careful with the brand you purchase as it is important to get one that is tested for purity and heavy metals.

Caproic Acid:

This is the smallest chain MCT at 6 carbon chains.  There is an extremely small amount of this in our normal food supply.  It has the potential to cause digestive problems including diarrhea and throat burning.

Caprylic Acid:

This 8 carbon MCT is found in only 6% concentration in coconut oil but is considered the gold nugget of the MCTs.  It has the most potent of anti-microbial properties that help to destroy bad bacteria and yeast.

Caprylic acid is easier than lauric acid in the production of cellular fuel (8).  In fact, it only takes 3 steps to turn it into cellular energy (ATP).  Sugar takes 26 steps to produce cellular energy and is therefore highly metabolically expensive.  The more concentrated an MCT oil is in caprylic acid the more mitochondrial strengthening the product will be.

Capric Acid:

This 10 carbon chain fatty acid is also a very powerful MCT that turns into easy energy within the mitochondria of the cell without any work from the liver.  Capric acid has also been shown to have great anti-microbial effects against bacteria such as P Acnes, E Coli and Candida albicans (9, 10, 11).

Research has also shown that capric acid helps to reduce inflammatory activity against bone tissue (12).  This provides evidence of its benefit in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.

Lauric Acid: 

This is a 12 carbon chain fatty acid that makes up around 50% of the fatty acids within coconut oil.  The metabolism of lauric acid is different than the other three MCTs.  In fact, even though lauric acid is considered an MCT, it actually acts more like a long-chain fatty acid.  It depends upon liver bile in order to be effectively metabolized (13)

Lauric acid is an effective anti-microbial but research has shown that caprylic and capric acids are more effective than lauric acid (14, 15) and infectious organisms such as gonorrhea and chlamydia (16, 17).  Caprylic acid is a common supplement used in anti-yeast protocols and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth protocols.

1. MCTs Lower Blood Sugar:

MCTs raise up ketones and lower blood sugar naturally.  They have a strong blood sugar stabilizing effect that helps to reduce inflammation and improve brain function (18).

After a single oral dose of MCTs, a slight drop in blood sugar develops (19). It is caused, apparently, by a decrease in the liver output of glucose and not by an increase in the bodies utilization of glucose.

MCTs significantly improve carbohydrate tolerance and inhibit the production of fatty acids in adipose (fat) tissue (20).

2.  Increased Nutrient Absorption:

MCTs improve the absorption of calcium and magnesium in premature infants.  One study looked at 34 pre-term infants.  The infants were divided into 3 groups and fed various formulas.

Group 1 had corn oil, oleic, and coconut oil (39:41:20); Group 2: MCT, corn oil, and coconut oil (40:40:20); Group 3: MCT and corn oil (80:20). The infants fed MCT-containing formulas absorbed significantly more calcium than the control group. Magnesium absorption was significantly increased in the 80% MCT group (21).

These same groups were then analyzed for protein absorption and nitrogen content.  The 80% MCT group had significant improvements in nitrogen absorption and amino acid sparing (22).  This means the body will be more effective at preserving and building lean body tissue when using MCT oil.

3.  Natural Anti-Convulsive:

The production of ketones has powerful anticonvulsive properties on the brain that has long been used as a treatment for individuals with epilepsy.  The traditional ketogenic diet which is LCFA based that is used for anti-convulsive benefits is made up of 87% of the calories from fat.  This is extremely hard to follow and compliance is often very low.

The use of MCTs, which as described are highly ketogenic, makes it much easier to get into and stay in ketosis.  An MCT based diet only depends upon 60-70% of calories from fat which allows one to handle some nutrient dense sources of carbohydrate and protein.  The diversity of the diet provides more micronutrients, has greater variety and is more enjoyable (23).

4.  Improved Athletic Performance:

MCTs are an elite fuel for athletes or anyone who is performing some sort of physical exertion.  This is due to their rapid rate of absorption through the digestive tract, quick metabolic conversion into cellular energy and their high energy density (24, 25).

Many athletes find great performance benefits using MCTs both pre and post workout.  They are the best form of fat to use right before (within 2 hours) and right after exercise due to their quick mobilization and use for rebuilding muscles and preventing the catabolic breakdown of proteins after rigorous training.

5.  Appetite Control and Weight Loss:

Research has shown that MCTs suppress the appetite which helps individuals who struggle with strong cravings and overeating.  In a 14 day study, 6 healthy males were put on 3 different unlimited diets:  a low MCT diet, a medium MCT diet and a high MCT diet (26).

The study authors found a significantly lower calorie consumption for those on the high MCT diet.  The researchers discussed how substituting MCTs for other fat sources can limit excess caloric intake and resulting weight gain.

A number of studies have also shown that when overweight and obese individuals were put on higher MCT oil diets, they were able to lose more weight and had better energy even though they were consuming less calories (27, 28).

Reasons to use MCT oil (1)

Problems With MCT Consumption:

Most people tolerate MCTs very well, however, too large of dosages too quickly can cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  If you have this problem, don’t panic and give up on MCTs right away.

You can easily reduce or eliminate these symptoms by starting with very small doses at a time.  This would mean ½ tsp several times daily and slowly increasing the dosage as tolerated.

How To Use MCT Oil:

MCT oil is very versatile and can be used as a salad dressing, in smoothies, for cooking or just straight up off the teaspoon.  Here are the most popular ways:

Cooking Oil:  Highly stable under heat like coconut oil but no coconut flavor

Salad Dressing:  No major flavor so combine it with herbs and vinegar

In Coffee & Tea:  Great for thickening up coffee or tea and improving their health benefits.

Smoothies:  Add 2 tbsps in a smoothie to curb hunger and have the smoothie keep you satisfied longer.

Introducing Upgraded XCT Oil:

Upgraded XCT oil is a combination of the 8 carbon chain caprylic and 10 carbon chain capric acid.  This formulation has 6 times more caprylic and capric acid in it than coconut oil, which is mostly lauric acid, which is not easily metabolized to create immediate fuel for the brain.

Upgraded XCT oil is free of lauric acid and is pure caprylic and capric acid.  This means that it is instant fuel for the brain.  It helps to keep ketones up and allows the body to easily switch over from burning sugar to ketones as its primary fuel source.

Upgraded XCT oil is extracted from palm and coconut oil in a time consuming process, making it the most potent XCT on the market.  No metal catalysts are used in the manufacturing process, and every batch of our XCT is tested for heavy metals.  Upgraded XCT is 100% pure and has a perfect 8-10 carbon saturated fat level.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) work directly in cells to give you an extra boost to maximize your performance.  Very little MCT oil is stored as fat because it is used for energy so quickly!

Tired of constantly craving sugar or caffeine?  Want a thermogenic immune boost with your energy?  Try the most advanced form of MCTs that is 6x stronger than coconut oil.


Sources For This Article Include:

1. Bach AC, Babayan VK. Medium-chain triglycerides: an update. Am J Clin Nutr. 1982 Nov;36(5):950-62. PMID: 6814231
2. Medium-chain triglycerides Link Here
3. Stein TP, Presti ME, Leskiw MJ, Torosian ME, Settle RG, Buzby GP, Schluter MD. Comparison of glucose, LCT, and LCT plus MCT as calorie sources for parenterally nourished rats. Am J Physiol. 1984 Mar;246(3 Pt 1):E277-87. PMID: 6422772
4. Odle J. New insights into the utilization of medium-chain triglycerides by the neonate: observations from a piglet model. J Nutr. 1997 Jun;127(6):1061-7. PMID: 9187618
5. Page KA, Williamson A, Yu N, et al. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Improve Cognitive Function in Intensively Treated Type 1 Diabetic Patients and Support In Vitro Synaptic Transmission During Acute Hypoglycemia. Diabetes. 2009;58(5):1237-1244.
6. Page KA, Williamson A, Yu N, et al. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Improve Cognitive Function in Intensively Treated Type 1 Diabetic Patients and Support In Vitro Synaptic Transmission During Acute Hypoglycemia. Diabetes. 2009;58(5):1237-1244.
7. Masino SA, Rho JM. Mechanisms of Ketogenic Diet Action. In: Noebels JL, Avoli M, Rogawski MA, Olsen RW, Delgado-Escueta AV, editors. Jasper’s Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies [Internet]. 4th edition. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2012. PMID: 22787591
8. Tetrick MA, Greer FR, Benevenga NJ. Blood D-(-)-3-hydroxybutyrate concentrations after oral administration of trioctanoin, trinonanoin, or tridecanoin to newborn rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Comp Med. 2010 Dec;60(6):486-90. PMID: 21262136
9. Huang WC, Tsai TH, Chuang LT, Li YY, Zouboulis CC, Tsai PJ. Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of capric acid against Propionibacterium acnes: a comparative study with lauric acid. J Dermatol Sci. 2014 Mar;73(3):232-40. PMID: 24284257
10. Marounek M, Skrivanová E, Rada V. Susceptibility of Escherichia coli to C2-C18 fatty acids. Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2003;48(6):731-5. PMID: 15058184
11. Murzyn A, Krasowska A, Stefanowicz P, Dziadkowiec D, Łukaszewicz M. Capric Acid Secreted by S. boulardii Inhibits C. albicans Filamentous Growth, Adhesion and Biofilm Formation. Mylonakis E, ed. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(8):e12050.
12. Kim H-J, Yoon H-J, Kim S-Y, Yoon Y-R. A Medium-Chain Fatty Acid, Capric Acid, Inhibits RANKL-Induced Osteoclast Differentiation via the Suppression of NF-κB Signaling and Blocks Cytoskeletal Organization and Survival in Mature Osteoclasts. Molecules and Cells. 2014;37(8):598-604.
13. Medium-chain triglycerides Link Here
14. Bergsson G, Arnfinnsson J, Steingrímsson Ó, Thormar H. In Vitro Killing of Candida albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2001;45(11):3209-3212.
15. Takahashi M, Inoue S, Hayama K, Ninomiya K, Abe S. [Inhibition of Candida mycelia growth by a medium chain fatty acids, capric acid in vitro and its therapeutic efficacy in murine oral candidiasis]. Med Mycol J. 2012;53(4):255-61. Japanese. PMID: 23257726
16. Bergsson G, Steingrímsson O, Thormar H. In vitro susceptibilities of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1999 Nov;43(11):2790-2. PMID: 10543766
17. Bergsson G, Arnfinnsson J, Karlsson SM, Steingrímsson O, Thormar H. In vitro inactivation of Chlamydia trachomatis by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1998 Sep;42(9):2290-4. PMID: 9736551
18. Page KA, Williamson A, Yu N, et al. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Improve Cognitive Function in Intensively Treated Type 1 Diabetic Patients and Support In Vitro Synaptic Transmission During Acute Hypoglycemia. Diabetes. 2009;58(5):1237-1244.
19. Yeh YY, Zee P. Relation of ketosis to metabolic changes induced by acute medium-chain triglyceride feeding in rats. J Nutr. 1976 Jan;106(1):58-67. PMID: 1245892
20. Lavau MM, Hashim SA. Effect of medium chain triglyceride on lipogenesis and body fat in the rat. J Nutr. 1978 Apr;108(4):613-20. PMID: 24679
21. Pediatrics – Medium-Chain Triglyceride Feeding in Premature Infants: Effects on Calcium and Magnesium Absorption Link Here
22. Tantibhedhyangkul P, Hashim SA. Medium-chain triglyceride feeding in premature infants: effects on fat and nitrogen absorption. Pediatrics. 1975 Mar;55(3):359-70. PMID: 1170544
23. Gasior M, Rogawski MA, Hartman AL. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology. 2006;17(5-6):431-439.
24. Berning JR. The role of medium-chain triglycerides in exercise. Int J Sport Nutr. 1996 Jun;6(2):121-33. PMID: 8744785
25. Jeukendrup AE, Saris WH, Wagenmakers AJ. Fat metabolism during exercise: a review–part III: effects of nutritional interventions. Int J Sports Med. 1998 Aug;19(6):371-9. PMID: 9774203
26. Stubbs RJ, Harbron CG. Covert manipulation of the ratio of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 May;20(5):435-44. PMID: 8696422
27. Hainer V, Kunesová M, Stich V, Zák A, Parizková J. [The role of oils containing triacylglycerols and medium-chain fatty acids in the dietary treatment of obesity. The effect on resting energy expenditure and serum lipids]. Cas Lek Cesk. 1994 Jun 13;133(12):373-5. Czech. PMID: 8069895
28. St-Onge MP, Bosarge A. Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):621-6. PMID: 18326600


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13 Responses to 5 Reasons to Use MCT Oil for Ketosis

  1. sophie June 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    I have been using upgraded XCT Oil for the past week and have benefited from using it daily. Excited to see the health improvements.

  2. Brenda July 13, 2017 at 4:56 pm #

    We were suggested mct oil for our 1 year old son who started epileptic treatment. They initially said it will improve his bowel as he was constipated but never explained the other benefits. Thank you so much for this article. It enlighted both me and my husband and we will most defnitely be giving him the doses now buy knowing the real benefits

  3. Chris August 16, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    How does upgraded XCT compare to Brain Octane Oil?

    • Dr. Jockers August 18, 2017 at 9:49 am #

      Hey Chris, XCT contain C8 & C10 MCTs while Brain Octane is Pure C8. C8 is much more readily converted into ketones than C10 however both ultimately help to form ketones. I hope that helps!

      • Camilla September 12, 2017 at 3:31 am #

        Hi there, Could you clarify then, why you want to cut out C10 for the Brain Octane?

        Thank you!

        • Dr. Jockers September 12, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

          It is easier for the body to convert into ketones so it would be considered the most efficient MCT for doing so. It is more expensive though so XCT is a great alternative for most people.

  4. Dedra September 8, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    How much and how often should you consume MCT oil throughout the day? During meals? Supplement in between meals? 1st thing in the morning? Right before bed? Thanks Dr Jockers for all you do.

    • Dr. Jockers September 9, 2017 at 6:43 am #

      Hey Dedra,

      You can try adding a Tablespoon to each meal whether it be a liquid or solid meal and see how you feel. Any time of day is suitable as it will help your body produce ketones and stabilize energy levels. It is not stimulating so no worries taking it before bed!

  5. Carol September 30, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    What brand of XCT or MCT do you recommend and where tonpurchase? Thx, carol

  6. Dylan R November 7, 2017 at 10:18 pm #

    Thanks Dr. Jockers, the bulletproof xct oil works great

    • Dr. Jockers November 8, 2017 at 10:07 am #

      Great! Glad you are enjoying it Dylan!

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