What are the benefits (if any) of using MCT oil? I've heard that if you are on a ketogenic diet that it helps to sustain energy levels. Does it help with weight loss or blood sugar/insulin levels?
It's highly ketogenic and water-soluble. Helps you keeping up ketone levels if you're on a ketogenic diet and if I remember correctly, lets you have more carbs and protein while still being in ketosis. But other than that, I don't see any real use of it. It's slighly thermogenic, in theory you could replace substitute your fat sources for MCT and possibly gain something like 0,01% higher fat loss. However, most people don't tolerate very much MCT at the same time as it irritates the gut. About 20-30g is probably the practical limit for most people. Again, no real use.
In particular, the MCFAs in MCT oil are only 6-10 long, whereas lauric acid, the main (50%) component of coconut oil has unique features like being anti-inflammatory and being more filling in a study (*). You completely miss out on that one.
And personally, it doesn't fill me up nearly as good as the longer-chain fat sources.
* Effect of fatty acid chain length on suppression of ghrelin and stimulation of PYY, GLP-2 and PP secretion in healthy men
We have evaluated the effects of fatty acid chain length on ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY), glucagon-like peptide-2 (GLP-2) and pancreatic polypeptide (PP) secretion and hypothesized that intraduodenal administration of dodecanoic (“C12”), but not decanoic (“C10”), acid would decrease plasma ghrelin and increase PYY, GLP-2 and PP concentrations. Plasma hormone concentrations were measured in seven healthy men during 90-min intraduodenal infusions of: (i) C12, (ii) C10 or (iii) control (rate: 2 ml/min, 0.375 kcal/min for C12/C10) and after a buffet-meal consumed following the infusion. C12 markedly suppressed plasma ghrelin and increased both PYY and GLP-2 (all P < 0.05) compared with control and C10, while C10 had no effect. Both C10 and C12 increased PP concentrations slightly (P < 0.05). We conclude that the effects of intraduodenal fatty acids on ghrelin, PYY and GLP-2 secretion are dependent on their chain length.
Received 28 November 2005; revised 27 January 2006; accepted 30 January 2006. Available online 23 March 2006.
Peptides. Volume 27, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1638-1643
MCT oil is often used as a supplement in pediatrics due to its ready absorption and energy density. It's actually used for weight gain, not weight loss. Examples are infants and children with short guts (after surgery), malabsorption syndromes, and heart conditions. Some infants with neuromuscular, heart and lung diseases are unable to consume a large volume of fluids, and MCT oil will increase the caloric density of their milk. The curious thing is that pharmaceutical grade MCT costs about 5X as much as common MCT oil supplements. I wonder if there's really any difference between these products. Is the price difference due to governmental regulations, or does Mead Johnson just get by with charging more because it's covered by insurance?
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