MCT oil has become a trendy addition to coffee among health enthusiasts. Sure, it adds a rich, creamy texture to a cup of coffee that some find appealing. But that’s not really why people do it. It’s all about quick energy, promoting satiety, curbing cravings, and supporting weight loss.
You may have heard of “Bulletproof Coffee” — a concoction popularized by biohacking guru Dave Asprey. It combines coffee, MCT oil, and sometimes butter to create a satisfying drink that supposedly enhances mental clarity, suppresses hunger, and boosts metabolism. You might also know it as keto coffee or butter coffee.
So, what’s the deal with MCT oil in coffee? Is it worth a try? Let’s dive in.
MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil is a source of easily absorbable fatty acids isolated from coconut or palm kernel oil via fractionation.
There are a bunch of different triglycerides, falling into three categories based on the length of their carbon chains:
- Short-chain triglycerides (SCTs) contain 0-5 carbon atoms.
- Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) contain 6-12 carbon atoms.
- Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) contain 13 or more carbons.
Essentially, MCT oil is a type of fat that bypasses regular digestion. Due to the length of the medium-chain fatty acids in the oil, it’s absorbed directly from the stomach and is sent to the liver where it’s converted to ketones, an alternative form of energy produced when the liver breaks down fat. Ketones are considered a “clean” form of energy that sustains you without the blood sugar crashes you get from glucose and other refined carbohydrates.
You’ll find MCTs in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, butter, and other dairy products. But the pure MCT oil we’re talking about mainly comes from coconut oil.
There are four main MCTs, although they’re not all in pure MCT oil.
- Caproic acid is found in animal fats and plant oils, although it is probably the least common MCT.
- Caprylic acid is known for its antifungal properties and is a big part of MCT oil supplements.
- Capric acid is found in coconut and palm kernel oil and has energy-boosting properties. Much like caprylic acid, capric acid is concentrated in pure MCT oil.
- Lauric acid makes up a large portion of MCTs found in coconut oil and is known for its antimicrobial properties. But watch out – it acts more like an LCT and is sometimes dubbed a “pseudo-MCT.”
I doubt you’d be interested in guzzling oil if it didn’t have any health benefits. Fortunately, scientists suggest MCT oil isn’t just a fad. It may have many benefits, from supporting weight loss and ketosis to enhancing cognitive function and athletic performance.
Let’s look at some benefits of using MCT oil in your coffee (and your diet in general).
1. Supports Ketosis and Weight Loss
MCT oil is a favorite among ketogenic diet fanatics. It supports ketosis, a metabolic state where your body primarily burns fat for fuel when carbs are limited. This makes it popular for supporting fat loss and balancing blood sugar levels. Plus, fat keeps you full, so you eat fewer calories (1). That means faster weight loss.
This meta-analysis showed that MCTs can reduce body weight, waist size, and total body fat. However, the results were modest, so it’s not a magic weight loss treatment.
Overall, weight loss is about eating a calorie-controlled diet, staying active, and getting enough sleep. But MCT oil might give some people an extra boost.
Getting more healthy fats may be the key to good brain function. In fact, the keto diet has long been a treatment for epilepsy. The shift from glucose to ketone metabolism may offer more stable energy for the brain.
There is tons of anecdotal evidence to suggest MCT oil clears brain fog and sharpens the mind, but there’s not much hard evidence to support this. However, supporting ketone production with the help of MCT oil may benefit patients with neurodegenerative disorders. This study on mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients found that MCTs stabilized or improved their cognitive ability.
We need more research, but the signs are promising.
There’s been a lot of talk about MCT oil boosting athletic performance. Honestly, I’ve been skeptical because of all the marketing hype.
For athletes on a ketogenic diet, MCT oil might provide a quick source of energy. But we need more studies to know for sure.
The relationship between MCT oil and blood sugar levels is complex and we’re still learning how it works. However, this study found it may improve insulin sensitivity in overweight people with type-2 diabetes.
Many biohackers and ketogenic dieters love adding MCT oil to their morning cup o’joe. Some even go a step further and add grass-fed butter.
First off, coffee is one of nature’s best mental and physical performance enhancers. As long as you don’t overdo the caffeine, it can support focus, alertness, and stable energy levels. It’s also fantastic for stimulating your metabolic rate, which is why it’s in many weight-loss supplements (2).
But why add MCT oil?
Simply put, people use MCT oil in coffee to extend their overnight fast while staying energized, alert, and satiated. This study found MCT oil in coffee (with or without caffeine) supports ketosis for those following a ketogenic diet. It’s a solid way to boost fat intake and keep the ketones flowing, but the evidence for increased energy is still thin.
If you’re wondering if it does anything else, the answer is… maybe. If you’re not keto, MCT in coffee probably won’t make a huge difference to your life. However, it could balance blood sugar levels and help you stick to intermittent fasting without feeling ravenous in the morning. The high-fat content might even slow caffeine absorption, preventing jitters and crashes. It acts like a keto and paleo-friendly coffee creamer that won’t mess with your blood sugar.
Most people add one or two tablespoons of MCT oil (depending on your taste and health goals) to black coffee and blend for a creamy, rich latte-like drink. Since it’s flavorless and odorless, it won’t change the taste of your beloved java.
If you want extra fat, make the famous Bulletproof coffee recipe by adding 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee. Blend until frothy. You can even add protein powder or collagen for an extra nutritional boost.
It might sound weird to some coffee drinkers (read: snobs) but don’t knock it until you try it.
If you’re on keto, MCT oil in coffee might give you energy, curb hunger, and keep you in ketosis. It could also help you stay “regular” – the mixture of coffee and oil gets things moving in the digestive tract.
Full disclosure: there hasn’t been much research on MCT oil in coffee in general – it’s still new. This small study found coffee with MCT-rich coconut oil taken before a race didn’t support exercise performance. However, coconut oil isn’t as rich in caprylic and capric acid as MCT oil – which might be the key difference.
Proponents say it clears brain fog, but preliminary data shows no benefit over regular coffee for cognitive performance. The best thing to do is experiment and see what works for you.
MCT oil in coffee isn’t for everyone; there are some risks and potential drawbacks to consuming this drink.
– Caloric Content and Weight Management: While MCT Oil has potential weight loss benefits, it is calorie-dense, with about 100 calories per tablespoon. If you’re watching your weight, be mindful of how much you add to your coffee.
– Cholesterol Levels: There’s been a lot of back-and-forth over the years about saturated fats and heart health. This meta-analysis found no significant evidence to suggest dietary saturated fat increases cardiovascular disease risk. But, if you have high cholesterol or heart disease concerns, chat with your healthcare provider before adding MCT oil to your morning coffee.
– Potential Side Effects: While MCT Oil has its perks, consuming too much can lead to unpleasant side effects like stomach cramps, diarrhea, or nausea.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding MCT oil in coffee. So, let me answer some of your burning questions.
The amount of MCT oil you add to your coffee depends on your preferences and tolerance. A good starting point is one teaspoon, gradually increasing to one or two tablespoons if you can tolerate it.
Always listen to your body and talk to a healthcare provider if you have specific concerns.
The research on MCT oil in coffee is still emerging, but it doesn’t seem to have serious risks for most people.
That said, too much coffee can lead to poor sleep or anxiety, and too much MCT oil might cause digestive issues like diarrhea or nausea. Plus, if you have liver problems or type-1 diabetes, it’s best to avoid MCT oil.
Yes. While MCT oil isn’t ideal for high-heat cooking, most people have no issues mixing it into a hot cup of coffee.
Yes, MCT oil in coffee is one of the cornerstones of the “Bulletproof Diet”—which is basically Dave Asprey’s rebranding of the keto diet. It’s considered safe and beneficial on a ketogenic diet.
Adding regular sugar to this concoction might counteract the benefits of MCT oil in coffee, especially if you’re fasting or on a low-carb diet. Instead, consider using a sweetener like stevia that adds sweetness without affecting your blood sugar levels or interfering with the satiety benefits of MCT oil.
No. This study found that MCTs don’t break fasting ketosis.
Coconut oil comes from coconut meat and kernels and has a mix of MCTs, LCTs, and other compounds. On the other hand, MCT oil is all MCTs, all the time.
I’ve written an article answering this in-depth. Check out this blog on MCT oil vs. coconut oil.
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In conclusion, MCT oil offers unique benefits that have led to its popularity in coffee. It’s kind of like a keto diet “hack.” It could help with weight loss, sharpen your mind, and maybe even improve your workouts. But it’s not magic. It also has the potential to skyrocket your calorie consumption and your cholesterol levels.
More research will help us understand it better, but in the meantime, why not give it a try and see if it works for you? Start with a small amount and consult a healthcare provider, especially if you have an existing health condition.