MCT oil is definitely one of the most talked-about products in the supplement industry right now. Over the last 5 years, fitness blogs have produced a mountain of content on MCT oil, its benefits, side effects, and so on.
There are now dozens of different MCT oil supplements on the market. They usually promise amazing results, and they all claim to be specifically tailored to one function – “best MCT oil for fat loss”, “MCT oil for keto”, and so on.
We recently noticed that there has been an explosion in MCT-based supplements, which got us thinking – what is the best MCT oil on the market today?
What makes one MCT oil better than another?
Does MCT oil even work as the manufacturers claim?
Should you really be spending your hard-earned cash on these products?
In this article, we’re going to look at what MCT oil is, what the benefits of consuming MCT oils are, and whether there are any health risks with regular consumption. We’ll then talk about what makes a good MCT supplement, before listing the best MCT oil on the market today.
What Is MCT Oil?
Simply put, MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. These are – as the name suggests – a group of fatty acids joined together with a medium length chain of 6-12 carbon atoms. This is shorter than most fats you eat, which have long chains of carbon atoms. This makes MCTs far easier to digest than normal fatty acids.
MCT oil, then, is just the name we give to these medium chain fatty acids when they are in oil form.
There are four different MCTs:
- Caproic acid (C6)
- Caprylic acid (C8)
- Capric acid (C10)
- Lauric acid (C12)
MCTs are not found naturally in many foods, at least not in large amounts. Cow’s milk is about 80-90% long-chain fatty acid, and about 5-10% medium-chain fatty acid.
To get a large amount of MCT oil, you have to turn to either palm kernel oil or coconut oil. While dairy products are typically only 5-15% MCT, coconut oil is around 50% MCTs. Coconut oil also contains far more caprylic acid and capric acid (thought to have the most health benefits) than dairy.
That’s why the vast majority of MCT supplements on sale today are derived from coconut oil. That said, a lot of low quality MCT oils will use filler oils to bulk out their supplements. They may also use palm oil as a source of MCTs, which is not ideal for both health and environmental reasons.
What Makes a Top MCT Oil?
So what makes for a top MCT oil supplement?
If MCT oil is just any supplement that gives you an oil rich in medium chain triglycerides, then surely they’re all the same, right?
Different MCT oil supplements offer vastly different value for money. Some are extremely high-quality supplement, manufactured to exacting specifications, and delivering amazing results for the end user. Others, however, are just glorified coconut oils pretending to be a high-spec supplement.
For us, the best MCT oil is the one that offers a solid dose of C8 caprylic acid and C10 capric acid in the cleanest, purest form possible.
Specifically, when reviewing top MCT oil supplements, we look for:
- MCT composition (100% C8 and C10)
- Purity of the oil
- Cleanliness of the oil
- Free of GMOs, additives, soy, preservatives, and gluten
- 100% vegan and sourced from certified organic coconuts
- Clean extraction process using no chemicals
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
Most of the articles that talk about the benefits of coconut oil seem to just talk about the benefits of MCT oil.
They often use these terms interchangeably.
But they are wrong to do so; MCT oil supplements are not the same as coconut oil.
At least, the best MCT oils are not interchangeable with coconut oil.
So which should you use – MCT oil or coconut oil?
This is an easy question to answer: in almost every case, it is better to use a proper MCT oil supplement over a simple coconut oil.
Even when using the best coconut oil you can buy, you aren’t getting a large amount of MCTs.
Coconut oil is only 50% MCTs. It is extremely calorific and high in fat, particularly saturated fat. Yes, some of these saturated fats are MCTs, but some aren’t. In any case, you really want to keep saturated fat intake as low as possible to avoid heart problems and growing visceral fat levels.
The quantity of MCT – and the ratio of the different MCTs – can also vary a lot depending on the oil you are using.
As stated above, coconut oil is around 50% medium chain triglycerides. But not all MCTs are the same.
Coconut oil made for cooking is not typically high in caprylic and capric acids. It can actually be very high in lauric acid, which is known to cause digestive issues. This is because lauric acid is the cheapest MCT to refine.
That’s why high quality, pure MCT oils have become so popular.
MCT oils are supplements that provide 100% MCTs.
That means you get none of the other stuff that comes with coconut oil – the water, the plant matter, the other saturated fats, and so on.
The best MCT oils will strip back on the less helpful and gut-distressing lauric acid, and instead provide a high concentration of capric and caprylic acids.
Can I get MCTs from Coconuts?
Since MCT oil is predominantly obtained from coconuts, can’t you just skip MCT oils and get all the medium chain triglycerides you need from coconuts themselves?
The answer is no, not really. Getting MCTs from coconuts is not a practical option for anybody.
Just as coconut oil is actually quite low in MCTs relative to MCT oil, so too are coconuts a poor source of MCTs. Yes they are the best natural source of MCTs, but your average coconut contains almost no medium chain triglycerides; the way that the best MCT oil brands make their products means they can concentrate the MCTs into a potent oil.
Trying to get an appreciable amount of MCTs from coconuts would mean eating dozens and dozens of coconuts. This isn’t ideal, especially if your goal is weight loss or entering ketosis – all that sugar!
This is why we think everyone should use a high quality, non-GMO, organic MCT oil if they want to see all of the benefits of MCT oil use without any adverse side effects.
Benefits of MCT Oil Supplements
There are hundreds of articles out there titled “the amazing benefits of MTC oil”.
To read some of the most popular health and fitness blogs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that MCT oil is a kind of magical cure for all that ails you.
In reality, MCTs are a nutrient like most other nutrients: they are a source of energy for your body.
MCTs do not have the kind of performance-enhancing effects that nootropics, energy supplements or fat burners may deliver.
However, they do offer benefits that separate them from the kind of fats that you will be getting from your normal diet.
MCTs can be rapidly converted into ketones. These ketones are highly efficient at crossing the blood brain barrier. When glucose levels run low, your brain can use ketones directly for fuel.
MCTs can therefore be seen as a kind of “instant fuel” for your brain.
Furthermore, the most beneficial MCTs (caprylic and capric acid) have been shown to have a number of positive long-term effects on performance and metabolism.
Specifically, the benefits of MCT oil include:
- Improve mitochondrial efficiency
- Protect brain cells and mitochondria from free radical damage
- Increase the number of mitochondria within brain cells
- Increased energy expenditure
- Greater satiety
These are not small benefits. MCTs – specifically capric and caprylic acid – can not only provide potent fuel directly to your brain, but they can drastically improve mitochondrial capacity in your brain.
Mitochondria are your cells’ engines. More, better functioning mitochondria means more raw brain horsepower.
Let’s go through the benefits of MCT oil in more detail.
MCT Oil for Weight Loss
Performance Lab MCT is easily the best MCT oil for weight loss on the market today.
While some MCT oil supplements claim to be specially formulatd for weight loss, the reality is that any high quality MCT oil (assuming it is high in capric and caprylic acid and low in lauric acid) can help you burn fat.
Studies show that the consumption of MCTs directly promotes fat loss. One study, for example, found that taking MCT oil combined with phytosterols and flaxseed oil for 29 days reduced total cholesterol by 12.5% in 24 overweight men.
It seems that MCTs promote weight loss by simultaneously increasing energy expenditure and by increasing satiety. So on the one hand, the best MCT oil will make you feel less hungry for longer, while at the same time actively increasing the number of calories you burn at baseline.
It isn’t clear exactly how MCTs increase calorie expenditure, but numerous studieshave observed a significant increase in calories burned at rest after subjects consumed a high quality MCT oil.
There is also evidence that MCTs may directly stimulate the burning of fat for fuel (fat oxidation). One study found that when they gave overweight men MCT oil, they exhibited markedly increase levels of fat oxidation compared to a group given olive oil.
Most of the fat burning properties of MCT oil actually come from C8 and C10 medium chain triglycerides. Many products sold as “fat burning MCTs” actually only contain C8 MCT, which isn’t really optimal for promoting weight loss.
Performance Lab MCT is the best MCT oil for weight loss on the market. It is ultra-clean, low calorie, and taste-neutral, meaning it can be mixed into anything from cereal to salad dressings. More importantly, it is rich in both C8 and C10 MCTs, which is the optimal balance for weight loss.
MCT Oil for Ketosis
MCT oil is the most popular supplement among keto diet fanatics, right up there with protein shakes and multivitamins.
There is good reason for this; MCT oil is extremely useful for anybody following a ketogenic diet. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that staying on a keto diet without the help of MCT oil is about as difficult as staying in ketosis for long periods of time without the help of a protein shake, and omega 3 supplement, or a multivitamin.
The reason MCT oils are so good for keto is that they both help you enter ketosi and to stay in ketosis for longer. This duel action is what makes the best MCT oils for keto so popular, as both entering and staying in ketosis are extremely difficult for most people to do!
In order to enter ketosis, you need to either completely starve yourself for more than 48 hours, or you need to consume no carbohydrates and ver little protein for several days. Tjat’s right; protein spikes your insulin too and prevents you fro entering ketosis. Obviously then, most people find it far too difficult to ever enter ketosis in the first place. A 24 hour fast is well beyond what most people can handle, but 48 hours minimum? That’s not going to happen for 99% of people out there!
That’s where high quality MCT oils come in!
The best MCT oils actually speed up the ketosis process, letting you enter ketosis far sooner than you can just by fasting or avoiding carbs and protein.
Studies have shown that a combination of C8 and C10 MCTs puts people into a stat of ketosis much faster than usual; around 24 hours after the start of a fast or keto diet.
It isn’t totally clear how MCTs do this, but it may be the fact that your brain will be burning ketone bodies from about an hour after you first consume MCTs.
The best MCT oil for ketosis will also help you stay in ketosis for longer. It does this by keeping you fueled and energized throughout the day without spiking your insulin levels. Sticking to a keto diet usually means putting up with energy crashes and brai fog, but not when you have MCT oil to use as an instant brain pick-me-up!
MCT Oil For Cognitive Performance
The best MCT oils simultaneously act as energy supplements, fat burners, keto supplements, and, amazingly, nootropics!
That’s right: the best MCT oil can dramatically enhance your brain function, improving everything from focus and learning to mental energy and stamina.
We have alread explained that MCTs have a number of different effects on your cells at the level of mitochondria. In short, MCTs both provide instant fuel for your cells to use, they improve the efficiency with which your mitochondria work, and they seem to actually increase the number of mitochondria in your cells.
As mitochondria are the cell’s engines, we don’t need to explain that all of this adds up to a whopping increase in energy levels.
Well, this applies just as much to your brain cells as it does to any other cells.
MCTs from the best MCT oils get instantly absorbed in the stomach and are shuttled straight to the liver, where they are turned into ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are then taken directly to the brain where they can be used instantaneously as brain cell fuel. Ketone bodies also multiply the number of mitochondria in brain cells, making them more energy efficient for the long-term.
Even better still, MCTs have some antioxidant properties. So while they are fueling your brain cells and ramping up the number of mitochondria there, they are also protecting your brain cells from oxidative damage. So you get more brain energy and better brain health!
Beyond this, MCTs may help protect against cognitive decline. Two clinical trials reported that MCT oil supplement improved cognitive function in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease patients. MCTs were effective in people who do not carry the APOE4 genotype, but not for APOE4 carriers. However, more work is needed to estalish if this link is real or incidental.
Who Uses MCT Oil?
We’ve gone through the benefits of using MCT oils.
But who actually uses MCT oil supplements?
As we see it, there are specific groups of people who should consider using MCT oils as part of their daily diet/supplement regimen:
- Bodybuilders looking to maximize satiety and energy during a cut
- Athletes in need to greater focus and energy on an empty stomach
- People following a low/zero-sugar diet
- People on a keto diet/in ketosis
- People who need to maximize brain energy for long periods without relying on caffeine
- People intermittent fasting
- Overweight people who need help dieting
MCT oil can benefit almost anybody who wants to lead a healthier lifestyle and control their weight better.
But if you fall into the categories listed above, you should really consider utilizing the best MCT oils as part of your diet and supplement regimen. If you’re a serious athlete looking to maximize energy while cutting, or you’re someone who wants to get into and stay in ketosis, the MCT oil can really make a huge difference for you.
So what is the best MCT oil brand on the market right now? Which is the best MCT supplement for maximizing energy levels, entering ketosis, and speeding up fat loss?
Our Top Pick: The Best MCT Oil Brand
Performance Lab MCT
Performance Lab have firmly established themselves as the supplement brand for people who put quality, purity and scientific pedigree before hype. Their impressive range of supplements focuses on total performance optimization, covering cognition, sleep, vision, and sports performance. They recently launched their MCT oil, and true to form, it is the purest, most refined, highest quality MCT oil on the market.
Performance Lab MCT is the cleanest MCT oil in existence. The manufacturer uses a cold extraction method to produce an oil that is 100% C8 and C10 MCTs; the two triglycerides most beneficial to halth and performance. All of this is sourced from certified organic coconuts.
The extraction method is free of hexanes and chemical solvents. It creates an odorless, taste-neutral product ideal for mixing with coffee, smoothies or shakes. There’s no filler oils like palm oil, which is what you get from lower quality MCT oil brands.
Benefits of Performance Lab MCT:
- Purest hit – 60% caprylic acid and 40% capric acid
- Contains no stomach-distressing lauric acid or less potent caproic acid
- Derived from 100% non-GMO, organic coconuts – no nasty palm kernel oil!
- Triple filtered and free of chemicals – just pure MCT oils
- Flavor-neutral and mixes easily with all liquids
No other MCT oil on the market comes close to offering this kind of cleanliness, purity and value for money. The fact that Performance Lab have made MCT tasteless and odorless for easy mixing with drinks and food makes it all the more special. This is easily the best MCT oil on sale right now.
Learn more: Performance Lab MCT review
Where to buy: PerformanceLab.com
MCT Oil Dosage: How much MCT oil should you use per day?
The amount of MCT oil you should take depends on how well you tolerate it, what benefit you‘re trying to get, and the quality of the MCT oil you are using. The most MCT oil you should take in a day is 4-6 tablespoons depending on your tolerance. Most people only need to take 2-4 tablespoons of MCT oil per day to see benefits.
Ideally, you should spread those tablespoons out throughout the day.
Of course, the quality of the MCT supplement you are using makes a huge difference to how much you can reaosnably take in a day. If you’re using a high quality organic MCT oil that is rich in caprylic/capric acids and low in stomach-churning lauric acid, you can get away with using more (and you’ll see greater benefits too).
If you’re using a lower quality MCT oil brand which contains lauric acid and caproic acid, then the chances of you experiencing side effects is much higher, and you should try to take less MCT oil each day.
Your specific goals also affect how much MCT oil you should take every day. If you are just looking for some extra carb and stim-free energy to help you get through a workout, then 1-2 tablespoons in a pre-workout drink should be plenty.
But if you’re tring to stick to a strict keto diet, or you’re a bodybuilder trying to train in fasted state, you should take 2-4 tablespoons per day.
MCT Oil and Coffee: Mixing pure brain fuel with caffeine
You may want to try mixing a high quality, organic MCT oil into your morning cup of coffee.
Consuming these substances at the same time does not deliver any extra benefits to consuming them separately; there’s no stacking effect to be had here.
The only benefit to adding MCT oil to your coffee is if you would struggle to consume it otherwise, either because you don’t cook in the morning or you don’t like the taste of MCT oil and coffee acts as a good medium.
The whole idea of mixing fats like butter or MCT oil into your morning coffee is ridiculous – the benefits people seem to experience from doing this all come from the placebo effect. Even the theory makes no sense! It’s all hype and insinuation; none of it is backed up by research.
How to use MCT oil for maximum benefits
It’s one thing being able to find the best MCT oils, but it’s quite another knowing how to use them properly!
MCT oils are not supplements that you just take and benefit from. You need to use any MCT oil – even the best ones – in the right way if you are going to get any benefit from them.
So, how do you use MCT oils?
First things first – MCT oils only provide benefits when they replace components of your diet. They do not confer any benefits in and of themselves.
That means if you’re trying to lose weight, simply adding MCT oil on top of your normal diet is not going to work; quite the opposite, you will quickly gain weight rather than lose weight. MCT oils contain calories, and lots of them (like all oils).
To aid with weight loss, you should use MCT oils in place of foods you are eating already.
So instead of pouring salad dressing or olive oil over your salads, try MCT oil. You could add it to your smoothies or morning coffee instead of the fats you are using now (it is much better for you than butter if you are currently buying into that gimmick).
That way, you are not consuming any extra calories, but you are enjoying all of the effects that MCT oils have which other oils and fats do not – instant brain fuel, better blood sugar control, lipolysis stimulation, etc.
If you aren’t using MCTs for fat loss but instead for cognitive performance, you should take a slightly different approach.
For maximum brain-boosting effects, we recommend using MCT oils as your main dietary oil. Olive oil has many health benefits, but none are directly related to cognitive performance. MCT oil, by contrast, acts as ready fuel for your brain cells, increases mitochondrial efficiency, and may actually increase the number of mitochondria in your brain cells!
So all things being equal, it is better to use MCT oil than olive oil, be it as a salad dressing, cooking oil, or a smoothie addition.
Whatever your reason for using MCT oils, we advise you to use them in a way that genuinely helps you achieve your goals.
We see many people simply consuming MCT oils for the sake of consuming them. They start adding them to their diets in an ad hoc way. The only thing they get as a result is an expanding waistline and triglyceride levels that are dangerously high.
Instead, use MCT oils sparingly and intelligently.
Doing so will increase mental energy, help with weight management, and more.
Stacking MCT Oil
MCT oils make great additions to a supplement stack.
When used alone, medium chain triglyceride oils do not have much of an effect on performance.
You wont start using an MCT supplement and suddenly feel more focused, or energetic, or leaner.
However, when used in combination with other supplements, MCT supplements can really make a big difference.
The stacking effect means you can use multiple supplements and get benefits that are far greater than the sum of the parts. The benefits of using a prebiotic with MCT oil are not just the benefits of the supplements added together; these supplements work together to dramatically increase immune system function, cognitive performance, digestive health, and cardiovascular health.
What you choose to stack with your MCT oil supplement depends on what you want to achieve – what your goals are, as well as dietary restrictions.
Cognitive Performance Stack
A good stack for maximizing cognitive performance is MCT oil combined with a nootropic.
Nootropics use herbal extracts, amino acids and natural concentrates to heighten focus, enhance memory function, and reduce stress and anxiety.
As nootropics place an increased demand on the brain, they stack extremely well with MCT oils. Medium chain triglycerides provide the brain with the extra energy it needs to function under such increased demand. On top of that, the best MCT oils will stimulate physical adaptations to increase mental energy going forward (by increasing mitochondrial density in your brain cells).
Try taking a spoonful of top-quality MCT oil first thing in the morning when you take your daily nootropic.
Fat Loss Stack
Most of the people using MCT oil are using it to help with fat loss.
As explained above, medium chain triglycerides are just dietary fats. Consuming them does not by itself make you lose weight. Adding MCTs to your diet will just make you gain weight, not lose weight.
Instead, you need to use MCT oils in place of fats you are currently using while maintaining a caloric deficit – only then will you lose weight.
That said, when used correctly, MCT supplements can definitely help with fat loss. They increase satiety, promote energy levels, and help with blood sugar control.
A good way to really maximize fat loss is to combine a top MCT supplement with a high quality fat burner such as Burn Lab Pro.
Gut Health Stack
The best way to promote gut health is to eat plenty of water soluble fiber, limit alcohol intake, and reduce consumption of red and processed meats to as little as possible (ideally zero).
But these aren’t the only ways to promote gut microbiome health.
Using prebiotic supplements can selectively increase the density of healthy, beneficial gut bacteria in your intestinal tract. This changes the balance of your gut microbiome to be more conducive to health and performance. By increasing beneficial gut bacteria, you decrease harmful gut bacteria (as one species thrives, others starve).
Studies have found that re-balancing your gut microbiome can significantly improve several different aspects of health and performance, including cognitive performance, immune system function, and cardiovascular health. That is to say nothing of the improvements you’ll see in body fat levels, satiety, nutrient absorption, and digestive comfort.
Check out our detailed review of the best prebiotic on sale today, Performance Lab Prebiotic.
MCT Oil Side Effects: Are they safe?
Generally speaking, MCT oils are very safe supplements to use. Even when used on a daily basis, over long periods of time, MCT oil i not thought to pose any health risks or cause any adverse health effects whatsoever.
Of course, this depends on the quality of the MCT oil you are using, what other ingredients the supplement contains, and so on.
If you’re using a clean, pure MCT oil sourced from non-GMO, certified organic coconuts and extrcted without chemical solvents, then the chances of you experiencing any negatie health effects is extremely low, even if you’re using MCT oil every day.
However, that doesn’t mean all MCT oil supplements are safe. Some MCT oil brands like to make oils with several different ingredients to help people achieve specific goals, such as weight loss, cognitive enhancement, energy boosts, etc.
Obviously, what these ingredients actually are, how they work and how they interact with one another will have a massive effect on the safety of a given MCT oil supplement. Be sure to check the ingredients list carefully before using any MCT oil supplement or MCT powder. We strongly recommend sticking to MCT oils and MCT powders that are 100% pure medium chain triglycerides.
We also advise trying to use MCT supplements that have been created using clean extraction processes that do not use hexanes or other chemical solvents, as these can have long-term health effects.
The composition of an MCT oil can also dictate whether or not it will cause side effects. An MCT oil that is entirely made up of caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) is not going to cause any digestive system issues.
But an MCT oil that contains a signiicant amount of lauric acid (C12), as many of the cheaper MCT oils do right now, is almost definitely going to cause you some serious digestive discomfort and may reek havoc on your digestive system for several days.
Side effects associated with MCT oils high in caproic acid and lauric acid include:
- Stomach cramps
- Loose stool
It is not uncommon for people new to MCT oil to experience sudden and severe diarrhea if using a cheap MCT oil or MCT powder product loaded with lauric acid. That’s why we so strongly recommend sticking to MCT oils that are 100% caprylic acid and capric acid.
CAUTION – Dislcaimer
You need to talk to a doctor before using any MCT oil. Even the best MCT oils might be risky for you depending on your medical history, dietary requirements, lifestyle, and so on. Always consult with a qualified medical professional before using any supplements. We are not doctors, and this is not medical advice.
Conclusion: What is the best MCT oil you can buy right now?
The best MCT oil that money can buy right now is, hands down, Performance Lab MCT.
There is just no doubt about it. We have found no product that comes close to delivering the kind of ingredient quality, purity, and cleanliness that Perfomance Lab MCT delivers.
We were initially skeptical when Performance Lab claimed that their MCT oil was the cleanest in the world.
But they were telling the truth.
Triple filtered for purity, cold extracted using a 100% natural, hexane-free process, and standardized to be nothing but pure C8 and C10 MCTs from organic, non-GMO coconuts. There’s no filler oils in here, no nasty surprises, and no sythetic additives.
On top of all that, this MCT oil is odor and taste neutral, making it ideal for those of you who like to mix their MCT oils with coffee or a post-workout shake.