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MCT Powder vs. MCT Oil: Which One Should You Choose?

By Molly Devine, RN, LDN

MCTs… you’ve probably heard about them as a way to support energy levels and support your keto goals. Maybe you’re interested in trying them but don’t know where to start. Maybe you want to better understand what they are and how they work to provide health benefits. In this article, we’ll cover what MCTs are, the benefits they offer, and explain the difference between the oil and powder forms of MCT.

First, let’s start off with a brief tutorial of what MCTs are and why you want them in your body. MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride. The body forms triglycerides by joining three fatty acids to a glycerol backbone, making fatty acids water soluble for transport in the blood and use in the body. Most unsaturated fats (including omega-3s and omega-6s) are shorter-chain fatty acids, consisting of 8 to 14 carbons, while most saturated fats (including coconut oil) are long-chain fatty acids, having 16 to 20 carbon bonds. MCT oil is a fat consisting of 8 to 14 carbons. Due to their unique length and makeup, they are quickly absorbed by the body and used for energy. They are also hydrolyzed more rapidly and metabolized more completely than Long Chain Fatty Acids (LCFAs) and are less likely to be deposited as fat than LCFAs are.

MCT OIL

While MCTs do occur naturally in small amounts in some foods, such as milk fat, coconut oil, and palm oil, commercial MCT oil is a synthetic product combining specific ratios of these naturally occurring MCTs. The four MCTs found naturally occurring in foods are Caproic Acid (the shortest in length with 6 carbons), Caprylic Acid (8 carbons), Capric Acid (10 carbons), and Lauric Acid (12 carbons) [1]. The shorter the MCT, the faster it can be digested and absorbed. Therefore, when shopping for products, it is best to look for oils with higher ratios of shorter MCTs (typically caprylic and capric acids) for efficiency.

MCT oil is great drizzled on salads and vegetables, added to soups and broths, mixed into full-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, or blended into coffee and tea. It can also replace olive oil in salad dressings and sauces (such as pesto and chimichurri). Avoid using MCT oil for cooking because it has a low smoke point; coconut oil is a better option due to a higher smoke point.

MCT POWDER

MCT powder is a more recent version of the good stuff that has some benefits over its oil counterpart. Most MCT powders have somewhere between a 50% – 80% MCT oil makeup, with the remainder of ingredients coming in the form of starch derivatives (carbs) and milk proteins. It is important to seek out products that contain a high Fat:Protein+Carb ratio. An example of a good ratio is 70:30.

MCT POWDER VS. MCT OIL

Why choose a powder vs. an oil? For most people, the number one reason is convenience. Powders are often sold in single-serve packets for easy transportation and on-the-go consumption. They’ll even make it through airport security! They can be added to liquids to make a shake or added to coffee as a “creamer.” They can be combined with exogenous ketone supplements to create a keto-powerhouse (Try KetoLogic’s Orange Creamsicle Shake!).

It’s recommended to introduce MCTs in small amounts and to consume it slowly (over half an hour). If you’re new to MCT oil, start with a teaspoon and work your way up to a full tablespoon. With the powder form, start with half a serving size and work your way up to a full serving over a few days.

CONCLUSION

Whichever form you choose, MCTs are a great way to take your ketogenic lifestyle to the next level.

***

Try KetoLogic’s MCT-based Meal Replacement Shake

References:

  1. Mahan, L.K.; Escott-Stump, S., Raymon, J.L. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th  2012, 46, 632.

 

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