Written by: Suzie Walker



Time to read 10 min

What is MCT Oil?  We get that question all the time at The Keto Collective.


More and more people are being intrigued by this wonder oil. But what exactly is MCT oil, and does it live up to the hype as a keto helping hand? 


Keep reading to find out what experts and research have to say about this supplement and if it lives up to its reputation.

what is mct oil

What Is MCT Oil?

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of fat found in oils like coconut and palm oil. Pretty simple.  But in recent years, refined MCT oil has become popular as a supplement, with research suggesting various health benefits such as increased energy and appetite control. The growing interest in MCT oil is mainly because it is a Keto Diet cheat code, providing clean energy while in ketosis.


It is completely clear, almost like a ‘thick’ water, with no taste at all.

MCT oil primarily consists of saturated fats, some consider it heart-healthy and feel it may have protective effects on cardiovascular health by improving serum lipid profiles


Most fatty acids are long-chain, meaning they contain 13 to 21 carbon atoms. In contrast, short-chain fatty acids have fewer than six carbon atoms. Medium-chain fatty acids, like those found in MCT oil, fall between these two categories with six to twelve carbon atoms.


Because of their smaller size compared to long-chain fats, medium-chain triglycerides are easily absorbed by the liver. This enables them to be used for energy more quickly, providing fuel for the body, which is crucial while in Ketosis!

RELATED: If you want to know more, you may want to read our article on the Top High-Fat Keto Foods

sources of mct oil

Sources of MCT Oil

MCT oil is not as abundant in nature as other fats that you would normally come across.


Natural Sources of MCT Oil


MCT oil occurs naturally in certain foods. Here are some examples of these natural sources:


- Coconut oil: Considered one of the richest providers, coconut oil boasts approximately 60% MCTs. It is commonly employed in cooking, baking, and as a dietary supplement.


- Palm kernel oil: Another notable source is palm kernel oil which contains around 50% MCTs. Often utilized within the food industry for making margarine, shortening, and cooking oils.


- Dairy products: While dairy products like butter and cheese contain small amounts of MCTs, their levels remain relatively low compared to other natural sources.


Supplemental Sources of MCT Oil


More and more Dietary supplements now offer another means of obtaining MCT oil. Here are some supplemental sources worth considering:


- MCT oil: Extracted from natural sources like coconut oil and palm kernel oil, this supplement offers pure MCTs. Available in liquid form, it can be effortlessly added to smoothies, coffee, or other beverages.


- MCT powder: For ease of use in beverages and food, MCT oil is often transformed into a powdered form known as MCT powder. Athletes, bodybuilders, and individuals following a ketogenic diet frequently utilize this as a dietary supplement.

mct oil and digestion

Understanding MCTs Digestion and Absorption on Keto

Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a kind of fat that your body digests and absorbs swiftly. Unlike their counterparts - long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) - MCTs don't need bile acids for digestion. They're broken down by enzymes in your gut and taken straight into your bloodstream. From there, they're transported to the liver where they serve as a quick energy source.


Why Might MCT Oil Upset My Stomach?


Yes, you may have heard about this… After taking MCT oil, some individuals may encounter discomfort in their digestive system. This can include stomach cramps, bloating, and diarrhoea. The rapid absorption of MCTs could result in an abrupt surge in bowel movements which leads to these symptoms. If you take too much MCT oil, expect to spend the afternoon on the toilet!


In rare scenarios, taking MTC oil might cause an allergic reaction. If you find yourself dealing with symptoms like hives, swelling or breathing difficulties post-consumption of this oil, seek medical assistance right away.


So while rapidly digested and absorbed by the body providing a quick energy supply, consumption of MTC oils may lead to gastrointestinal issues for some people. You can minimize these potential problems by starting with a smaller dosage , which we will discuss soon…

mct and weight control

MCT Oil and Weight Control

MCT oil is gaining traction as a weight loss tool due to its purported ability to boost energy expenditure and reduce hunger, especially while on the Keto Diet. 

MCT Oil and Bodily Composition


Besides aiding in shedding pounds, MCT oil might also enhance body composition. A study involving overweight men revealed that those who incorporated MCT oil into their diet lost more body weight and fat mass than those who used olive oil.


Furthermore, MCT oil might heighten insulin sensitivity which can lead to improved glucose regulation and potentially lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Does MCT Oil Help Reduce Belly Fat?


While studies confirm that MCT oil assists with overall weight reduction and improves body composition, there is scarce evidence proving it specifically targets abdominal fat.


However, the Keto diet HAS had studies surrounding it that prove that it targets that dreaded belly fat. So in a roundabout way, MCT oil DOES promote the loss of love handles and belly fat!


So adding MTC oil into your healthy eating plan coupled with regular exercise may contribute towards overall weight control enhancement as well as improvement in bodily composition which can indirectly cause a decrease in belly fat.

RELATED: If you want to read about fat loss, you may want to see our article on Losing Weight With Keto

mct oil and keto

Using MCT Oil in a Keto Diet

Often found in a ketogenic, or keto, diet - one that prioritises high fats and low carbohydrates to achieve a state of ketosis - MCT oil has an important role. By limiting carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption, the body enters ketosis.


MCT oil serves as an excellent source of dietary fat, supporting your body's energy needs by converting easily into ketones. This aids in prolonging your time spent in ketosis and potentially mitigates symptoms of the so-called 'keto flu' some encounter at the onset of this diet. Being tasteless, MCT oil can easily be added to smoothies or salads to up your fat intake for the day.


You can easily integrate MCT oil into your keto regimen by blending it with your morning coffee. Known as bulletproof coffee, it's become quite the rage among those following the keto plan. A lot of keto followers use bulletproof coffee while intermittent fasting, as the belief is MCT doesn't break a fast like typical calorific food would. This is because ‘in theory’ MCT oil bypasses the digestive system as the triglycerides are directly absorbed into the bloodstream. Whether you want to believe that or not, bulletproof coffee can provide a nice boost in energy while coming out of a fasting period.

RELATED: If you want to know more, you may want to read our article on ‘What is Intermittent Fasting?’

Incorporating MCT Oil into Cooking


Not just for diets alone, MCT oil shines in cooking too, but only at lower temperatures. Any temperature over  160C (or 320F) should be avoided as MCT oil has a low smoke point.


Compared to oils like olive oil which also have a low smoke point, MCT oil emerges as a great alternative or addition. Use it creatively when whipping up salad dressings or marinades or even swapping out other oils during low-temp cooking.

benefits of mct oil

The Benefits of MCT Oil

Let's dive into some of these noteworthy health perks associated with MCT oil…



MCT Oil: A Heart's Best Friend

MCT oil has proven to be beneficial for heart health. Research indicates that by incorporating MCT oil into your diet, you could potentially decrease your risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases. This is primarily because MCT oil positively alters cholesterol levels — it decreases LDL (the bad one) and increases HDL (the good one).



MCT Oil: Brain Booster

If you're looking for a brain boost, look no further than MCT oil. Studies suggest that this unique oil can enhance cognitive function and memory recall while possibly slowing down Alzheimer's disease progression. The secret lies in its ability to swiftly convert into ketones, serving as an efficient energy source for your brain.



MCT Oil: Metabolic Syndrome Fighter

With its positive impact on metabolic syndrome - a cluster of conditions escalating the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes - MCT oil doesn't disappoint either. It has been shown that this special type of fat may help curb metabolic syndrome by enhancing insulin sensitivity, while decreasing inflammation.

negatives of mct oil

Potential Negatives of MCT Oil

While MCT oil is generally safe for the majority of individuals, it can lead to some side effects in specific cases. Here are some potential impacts of MCT oil you need to know about:



Digestive Complications

MCT oil can lead to digestive complications, particularly when consumed in substantial quantities or on an empty stomach. Typical digestive problems encompass nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps. To evade these symptoms, begin with a minor amount of MCT oil and progressively escalate the dosage. Additionally, taking MCT oil with food can help avert digestive complications. Heed this warning!


Storage and Use

MCT oil possesses a low smoke point, meaning it can oxidize and become rancid when subjected to high temperatures. To prevent this, keep MCT oil in a cool, dark area, distant from heat and light. You should also refrain from utilizing MCT oil for high-temperature cooking. Instead, use it for low-heat cooking or as a salad dressing.



Uncommon Side Effects

In rare instances, MCT oil can lead to other side effects such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. These symptoms are typically mild and disappear independently after a few days. However, if you endure severe or persistent side effects, you should discontinue using MCT oil and seek advice from your doctor.



MCT oil is a safe and effective supplement for most individuals. However, if you encounter any side effects, it's crucial to modify your dosage or halt the use of MCT oil completely. If you have any apprehensions about using MCT oil, don't use it!

mct oil dosage

MCT Dosage and Administration

If you're starting with MCT oil, it's crucial to begin with a modest amount and slowly raise it. This approach prevents any digestive issues that might arise when you first introduce MCT oil to your diet. Take your time if you are new to MCT oil, it is very unforgiving for the uninitiated who choose to jump in head-first!


Generally, it's advisable to begin with 1 teaspoon of MCT oil daily and gradually work your way up to 1 tablespoon daily. However, at the Keto Collective, we would recommend you start with testing an even smaller amount than that! Yes, MCT oil really is THAT potent when starting out. Remember, your gut has never dealt with fat like refined MCT oil and will need time to adjust.


You can consume MCT oil standalone or by incorporating it into your meals or beverages. To sidestep any digestive discomfort, it's better to take MCT oil with food. You can mix MCT oil into smoothies, coffee, tea, or salad dressings. 

Finally On... MCT Oils

MCT oil can be a useful tool to have available while on a keto diet. Being completely tasteless, it can be added to pretty much anything. If you need to up your fats to get into ketosis quicker, or just need an energy boost in the morning, MCT can be that help that gets you through.

RELATED: If you want to know more, you may want to read our article on the Beginners Guide To Keto

Suzie Walker - Keto Collective

Suzie Walker

Suzie Walker is a qualified Nutritional Therapist from the College of Naturopathic Nutrition London and co-founded The Keto Collective, a company that aims to make it easier for those following the keto way of eating to find whole food, great tasting, keto alternatives to their everyday favorites.

What's the effect of adding MCT oil to my coffee?

Adding MCT oil to your cup of joe gives you a quick and long-lasting energy boost. Your body easily converts MCT oil into ketones, which act as an alternative energy source instead of glucose. This process can sharpen your mental clarity and focus, ramp up your metabolism, and aid in weight loss.

What foods have MCT in them?

You'll find MCTs in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products like butter and cheese. But among these sources, it's the MCT oil that packs the highest concentration of MCTs.

How does MCT oil affect heart health?

When it comes to heart health, MCT oil is pretty neutral. Some studies even hint that MCTs could have a positive effect on heart health by reducing inflammation and enhancing lipid profiles.

Where can I buy some MCT oil?

MCT oil isn't hard to find. You can pick it up at health food stores, order from online vendors or even some supermarkets carry it. Just remember when buying: go for a high-quality product without any additives or fillers.

How much should I take daily if I want to lose weight?

If losing weight is your goal, try taking 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil each day. Start with a smaller dose though and gradually increase it so you avoid any digestive discomfort.

Is virgin olive oil the same as MCT Oil?

Nope! Virgin olive oil isn't classified as an MCT Oil. While it does contain some amount of MCTS, you won't find nearly as much as what's packed into an equivalent amount of pure form -MTC oils.

Does this mean that coconut oils are less healthier than MTc Oils?

Well not exactly! Although MTc Oils are a more concentrated source than Coconut Oils, both still pack a healthy punch and can offer many of the same benefits. Just make sure you're opting for high-quality, unrefined coconut oil to get the most out of its health benefits.