What are MCTs: A Perfect Primer for Everything You Need to Know

What are MCTs: A Perfect Primer for Everything You Need to Know
MCTs are very popular among those on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. This article goes over the basics of what MCTs are and how to add it to your daily regimen.

What are MCTs?

MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) are the key fat molecules found in coconut oil. MCTs are an amazing source of fuel for the body with many clinically studied health benefits.

What are the benefits of consuming MCTs?

  • Highly ketogenic [1,2]
  • Helps you feel fuller longer [3,4]
  • Decreases your appetite [5,6]
  • Promotes weight loss [3,4,7,8,9]
  • Promotes fat oxidation [10,11,12]
  • Boosts metabolism [10,11,12]

Can MCTs cause stomach issues?

Foods high in MCTs may cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. This is particularly common when beginning a diet containing MCTs. They can cause nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

What can I do to prevent GI discomfort when consuming MCTs?

If you're new to consuming MCTs, start slowly and build up gradually. Your body will get used to digesting MCTs and any GI discomfort will subside in a few days. For example, if you are starting a regimen that includes KetoLogic® KetoMeal®, we recommend that you:
  • Start with half of a serving or less mixed into 8 ounces of cold water.
  • Add ice (this will likely cause you to drink it slower).
  • Sip it slowly (over an hour).
  • Build up to a full serving over the course of a few days.
If you're using KetoLogic MCT Oil, we recommend the following:
  • Start with 1 teaspoon and sip slowly. Add it to your coffee, tea, or smoothie.
  • Work your way up to a full tablespoon over a few days.

What is the shelf life of MCT oil?

MCT oil generally has a shelf life of two years. All MCT oil bottles have a "best by" date but it can last longer than that if stored properly. The best way to store MCT oil is in a cool, dry, and dark place (away from sunlight), such as the pantry or in a cupboard (away from your stove and any other heat sources). You can also store it in your refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Unlike coconut oil, it will not become solid when chilled.

Once you open your MCT oil, oxidation starts which can shorten the shelf life. Make sure you seal the bottle tightly after each use, and store it away from heat and sunlight. If you do that, your MCT oil should last the full two years (and possibly even longer) after being opened.

Another option is to buy MCT oil in single-serve packets. These should also be stored in a cool pantry, but you won't need to worry about any impacts of oxidation after the packet is opened since you'll use it up right away.

What is the shelf life of MCT powder?

MCT oil also comes in powder form. The powder form has a shorter shelf life than MCT oil. It's generally good for at least one year. Once opened, the quality can start deteriorating, and clumping can happen over time. The best way to minimize clumping is to store it in a pantry or cupboard that is cool, dry, and dark. Shaking it prior to each use will help keep the powder loose.

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

In closing, MCT oil is a great supplement for those on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. They are linked to many health benefits, including weight loss and improved energy. You can learn more about MCTs by reading this comprehensive guide to MCTs.


  1. Huttenlocher, P. R., wilbourn, A. J. and Signore, J. M.: Medium chain triglycerides as a therapy for intractable childhood epilepsy. Neurology 21: 1097, 1971.
  2. Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., Whitney, A. and Cross, J. H. (2009), A randomized trial of classical and medium-chain triglyceride ketogenic diets in the treatment of childhood epilepsy. Epilepsia, 50: 1109–1117. doi:10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01870.
  3. St-Onge MP, Ross R, Parsons WD, Jones PJ. Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men. Obes Res. 2003;11:395–402.
  4. St-Onge MP, Bosarge A. 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. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):621-6. PubMed PMID: 18326600; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2874190.
  5. St-Onge MP, Jones PJ. Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. J Nutr 2002;132:329–32. [PubMed: 11880549]
  6. St-Onge MP, Mayrsohn B, O'Keeffe M, Kissileff HR, Choudhury AR, Laferrère B. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;68(10):1134-40. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.145. Epub 2014 Jul 30. PubMed PMID: 25074387; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4192077.
  7. St-Onge MP, Bourque C, Jones PJ, Ross R, Parsons WE. Medium-versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2003;27:95–102. [PubMed: 12532160]
  8. Nosaka N, Maki H, Suzuki Y, et al. Effects of margarine containing medium-chain triacylglycerols on body fat reduction in humans. J Atheroscler Thromb 2003;10:290–8. [PubMed: 14718746]
  9. Tsuji H, Kasai M, Takeuchi H, Nakamura M, Okazaki M, Kondo K. Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women. J Nutr 2001;131:2853–9. [PubMed: 11694608]
  10. Dulloo AG, Fathi M, Mensi N, Girardier L. Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate amounts of medium-chain triglycerides: a dose-response study in a human respiratory chamber. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996;50:152–8.
  11. Scalfi L, Coltorti A, Contaldo F. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;53:1130–3.
  12. Seaton TB, Welle SL, Warenko MK, Campbell RG. Thermic effect of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986;44:630–4.

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