When your body achieves ketosis, it becomes a fat-burning machine and uses your stored fat as its energy source instead of using glucose for energy when on a high-carbohydrate diet. But in order to become keto-adapted, you need to increase your consumption of healthy fats along with decreasing your intake of sugars and other carbohydrates.
On a standard ketogenic diet, fat should comprise between 70 to 80 percent of your daily caloric needs. But what do you do if you are struggling to reach the proper ratio of fat calories? Maybe you're avoiding dairy or don't like fatty cuts of meat and need another alternative to make up for those fat calories. That's where MCT supplements come in.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
Let’s first talk a little about what a ketogenic diet is. A keto diet helps promote the metabolic formation of ketones in the body which ultimately causes the body to use fat as the primary energy source, rather than carbohydrates. A keto diet has many benefits and can be a very effective weight loss diet.
A ketogenic diet consists of low carb, moderate protein, and high-fat food options which will aid your body in reaching a state of ketosis. This diet also helps your body produce insulin that can then help transport the glucose throughout your body.
What are MCTs?
Many of us are familiar with the MCT acronym but may not completely understand what they are. MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are made up of fatty acids (i.e., the building blocks of fat),and they prompt our bodies to produce more ketones. Having more ketones is essential to becoming keto-adapted!
Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), MCTs are used quickly by the body and are not stored in fat cells. MCTs are broken down in the liver, and through this process, ketones are produced.
Lengths of Fatty Acids:
- Short-Chain: fewer than 6 carbon atoms
- Medium-Chain: 6 to 12 carbon atoms
- Long-Chain: greater than 12 carbon atoms
In general, the shorter the carbon length, the more ketogenic the fat is. Therefore, short-chain fatty acids are the most ketogenic. You can find short-chain fatty acids in butter and cream, but supplements are not ideal as short-chain fatty acids tend to taste rancid. That's why supplementing with MCTs is the preferred option and tend to be a staple on the ketogenic diet.
The shorter carbon chain length of MCTs allows them to be digested rapidly, moving from the digestive tract to the liver for immediate energy production. LCTs, on the other hand, need enzymes to be broken down and require a lengthy transportation process through the body which gives them a greater chance of being deposited in adipose (fat) tissue. MCTs are much more ketogenic than LCTs.
The fatty acids found in MCTs are called medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFAs. Four MCFAs vary in length from 6 to 12 carbon atoms:
- C6: Caproic Acid
- C8: Caprylic Acid
- C10: Capric Acid
- C12: Lauric Acid
Caproic acid (C6), is the smallest length of the MCFAs and is not readily found in our normal food supply.
Caprylic acid (C8), is thought to be the most ketogenic as one C8 molecule breaks down into two ketones. Within a few minutes after consumption, C8 provides quick but stable energy and mental clarity. Coconut oil contains roughly 6% concentration of C8 MCT.
Capric acid (C10) is also readily converted to energy and is an antifungal powerhouse. A 2001 study found that C10 was the "fastest and most effective" at killing strains of Candida albicans, which is a yeast that can cause digestive issues.
Lauric acid (C12) is also a very powerful antibacterial, but it actually acts more like a long-chain fatty acid and requires liver bile to be effectively metabolized. The fatty acids in coconut oil are nearly 50% C12.
- Therefore, C8 and C10 MCT oil are considered the best options for those following a ketogenic diet for their quick absorption, high conversion to ketones, and digestive benefits.
Where do MCTs Come From?
We've seen that coconut oil is a natural source of MCTs, but where else can we find these medium-chain fatty acids? MCTs can be found in whole food sources like the following:
- Coconut oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Whole milk
- Full-fat yogurt
Why Should You Add MCTs to Your Diet?
MCT supplementation has been shown to have the following health benefits:
- Raises blood ketone levels = greater energy
- Increases metabolism & stabilizes appetite = greater weight loss
- Enhances the performance of brain & heart = greater health
Other Benefits of MCT Oil
MCT oil is a great supplement to use due to its many health benefits as mentioned above, and because these supplements can be easily digested and can provide long-lasting energy for both the body and mind.
If you experience any kind of digestive upset or you don’t have a gallbladder anymore, then MCT oil is good for you because it helps improve the body’s fat absorption and is easy to absorb. These supplements also contain antiviral qualities that can help improve and strengthen your immune system as well.
MCT can also be used topically. It is often popular in some lotions and makeup removing solutions and other personal care products like toothpaste and salves.
When Looking for MCT Oil
Now that you know all the basic information you should know about MCT oil and how it can be used on a ketogenic diet, you should also know what you should be looking for when you purchase it.
MCT supplements are great to incorporate into a ketogenic diet and come in a variety of forms, from oils to powders to softgels. All of them can be advantageous but be careful of MCT powders mixed with maltodextrin as this is derived from starch and can have an adverse effect on glucose levels.
For a maximum quality MCT oil supplement, you will want to find one that is organic and non-GMO. This means that the coconut that the oil is extracted from was grown naturally and was not exposed to pesticides. This all leads to a higher-quality product.
You will also want to trust the source and know where the MCT oil is from. Some oil has been made with palm and palm oil is not as sustainable as coconut oil. Then check how much of each of the four medium-chain fatty acids are in the MCT oil. Remember, the shorter these fatty acids, the faster absorbing the product will be. Caprylic (C8) and Capric (C10) MCT oil are considered the best options for those following a ketogenic diet for their quick absorption, high conversion to ketones, and digestive benefits.
How to Add More Fat to Your Diet with MCT Oil
As MCTs don't require enzymes to break down, they are rapidly absorbed and delivered, and this rapid introduction of fat can cause digestive upset in the beginning. When starting to supplement with MCT oil, start with a small amount to build up your tolerance and avoid a distressed stomach.
This is why we developed our Organic C8:C10 MCT Oil Softgel Capsules. For most people, starting with MCT oil softgels is a great way to introduce MCTs into their diet or take on on-the-go.
Benefits of MCT Oil Capsules:
- Easier to digest than high doses of MCT oil
- Portable and convenient to take on-the-go
- No messy measuring of oil or powder
- Dissolves quickly in hot liquids, perfect for keto coffee
Keto Function MCT Oil Softgels are made from 100% organic coconuts. Our unique blend of C8 and C10 MCTs provide your mind and body with a quick and sustained source of energy so you can crush cravings, maintain ketosis, and own the day.
In summary, fats are the building blocks of the ketogenic diet and should comprise somewhere between 70-80% of your daily calories. The majority of these fat calories should come from healthy sources, such as meats (red meat, poultry, and fish), dairy (butter and cream), and plant-based fats (avocados, coconut oil, nuts, and pure MCTs).
If you want an easy way to add healthy fat to your diet, give MCT supplements a try and experience the benefits of increased energy and additional fat loss. If you're looking to boost your blood ketone levels, exogenous ketones are an extremely quick, convenient, and effective way to do this.