Recently, as low-carb, high-fat diets have become popular, more and more people are drinking bulletproof coffee, made by adding unsalted butter and ‘MCT oil’ to black coffee, as a breakfast substitute.
The MCT oil used here is an oil extracted from medium chain fatty acids contained in coconut oil, etc. through a refining process. MCT oil has the characteristic of breaking down faster than regular oil and being converted into an energy source rather than being stored as fat in the body. Academic circles have also focused on these characteristics and conducted research using MCT oil. Today, we will introduce the benefits of MCT oil that have been studied so far.
1. Weight Loss
MCT oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids have shorter fatty acid chains than long-chain fatty acids, so when absorbed, they are transported directly to the liver, where they are easily oxidized and accumulate relatively little in fat tissue. Additionally, it is known that more calories are consumed when consuming medium chain fatty acids than when consuming long chain fatty acids. Therefore, using medium chain fatty acids in a diet for weight loss can be effective.
In fact, in 2008, a paper was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reporting the results of weight loss when consuming MCT oil.
“In this study, we found that subjects who consumed MCT oil as part of a weight loss diet lost an average of 1.7 kg more than subjects who consumed olive oil as part of a weight loss diet.”
Reference : St-Onge, M. P., & Bosarge, A. (2008). 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. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(3), 621–626.
2. Increases Fat Burning
Mitochondria are intracellular organelles that oxidize glucose and lipids to create ATP, the energy needed for cells. MCT oil improves metabolism by activating enzymes related to mitochondrial biosynthesis and metabolism, and increases fat oxidation ability by increasing mitochondrial density in skeletal muscle.
In this regard, a paper published in Nutrients in 2022 reported that fat burning increased when subjects engaging in low-intensity physical activity consumed MCT oil.
“These results indicate that in people classified as obese according to Japanese standards, MCT oil enhances fat burning by preferentially utilizing fat as an energy substrate during low-intensity physical activity.”
Reference : Tsujino, S., Nosaka, N., Sadamitsu, S., & Kato, K. (2022). Effect of Continuous Ingestion of 2 g of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Substrate Metabolism during Low-Intensity Physical Activity. Nutrients, 14(3), 536.
3. Improves Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance refers to a case where our body's response to insulin is reduced compared to normal standards. So, when insulin resistance increases, our body's ability to control blood sugar levels decreases in all areas. Obesity is one of the causes of insulin resistance.
MCT oil produces ketone bodies, burns body fat, and increases satiety. This action can help with weight loss and even improve insulin resistance.
A 2007 paper published in Metabolism: clinical and experimental found that consuming MCT oil improved insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes.
“The between-group comparison also shows reductions in body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR, higher in patients with metabolic syndrome than in the general population) in the MCT group compared to the LCT group (corn oil consumed) at the end of the study. "
Reference : Han, J. R., Deng, B., Sun, J., Chen, C. G., Corkey, B. E., Kirkland, J. L., Ma, J., & Guo, W. (2007). Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects. Metabolism: clinical and experimental, 56(7), 985–991.
Today, we learned about the benefits of MCT oil through research papers. MCT oil is often used in low-carb, high-fat diets, but consuming high doses can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. In addition, some studies have pointed out that high doses of MCT oil can rather cause fat to accumulate in the liver, so it is recommended that you consume an appropriate amount.
I hope you have a healthy day both physically and mentally. This was Jinny.