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Updated April 5, 2022
MCT Oil vs. MCT Powder: 4 Important Differences You Should Know About
As MCT oil continues to gain popularity, a question is emerging among those who supplement with it—should I go for pure MCT oil or try MCT oil powder?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The 4 main differences between MCT oil and MCT powder
- Why MCT powder may be the more practical (and tasty) choice
- How to supplement with MCTs
- The best time to take MCTs
Alright, let’s dive in…
What Are MCTs?
“MCTs” is short for medium-chain triglycerides—a type of saturated fatty acid most commonly derived from coconut oil (although they can also come from palm kernel oil).
So, why do MCTs now make up a $1.7 billion dollar industry, you ask (1)?
For one, MCTs provide you with fog-free energy, easier weight loss, increased immunity, and many other health benefits.
Secondly, they’re processed more quickly and efficiently than long-chain triglycerides (their popular fatty acid cousins). The majority of the fats in your everyday diet come from long-chain triglycerides (think: olive oil, nuts, and fish). The issue with this is that they have to travel through your lymphatic system before they can find their way to your liver for processing. That lengthy travel time is why fat generally doesn’t make a great source of energy when you need a quick boost.
MCTs, on the other hand, skip your lymphatic system altogether and are processed by your liver within minutes. This structure and absorption rate give MCTs an enviable range of health benefits.
Let’s Get to the Perks: Science-Backed Benefits of MCTs
The most well-known benefit of MCTs is the nearly instant energy boost it provides.
While glucose from carbohydrates can offer similar energy-boosting qualities, MCTs are a preferred fuel source if you’re trying to keep carbs low. There’s also another reason to consider MCTs over glucose when for a boost: Glucose energy operates on borrowed time.
Here’s why: When you eat food with carbs in it, your body breaks carbs down into glucose, which in turn raises the amount of glucose in your blood (AKA blood sugar).
While glucose can certainly boost the amount of energy available to you in the short term, your body ultimately recognizes that your blood sugar level has increased, which then signals the hormone insulin.
When this happens, your blood sugar is shuttled into your cells or stored as fat.
In other words…
That short-lived burst of energy you just got will quickly turn into an energy crash (2).
MCTs, on the other hand, absorb directly into your portal vein, flow straight to your liver, and convert to long-lasting fuel that won’t end in an exhausting crash.
Great, but What Else Do They Do?
Bonus Perk: MCTs Are Great for Keto Beginners
For those on keto diets, another significant benefit of MCT supplements is their ability to help ease the transition into ketosis and minimize symptoms of what’s called “keto flu.”
As you shift into ketosis, your body undergoes a drastic shift in metabolism. As a result, the transition may prompt flu-like symptoms such as headaches, chills, brain fog, body aches, and nausea.
Because MCTs are highly ketogenic (able to produce ketones), they can be a balm during this early transitory phase of the diet. MCTs can provide the energy boost you’d otherwise be lacking during the process, which can help reduce symptoms of keto flu (10).
MCT Oil Liquid vs. MCT Powder: 4 Key Differences
Now that MCT’s superpowers are established, let’s consider the true question: Which form of MCT is best for you?
When you first start shopping for MCT supplements, you’ll likely notice it comes in two forms: Liquid or powder.
But what’s the difference between the two? And more importantly—which is healthier?
MCTs are naturally found in liquid form, and as a result, a larger body of research exists on liquid MCTs as opposed to powder. However, more and more MCT consumers are beginning to favor the product in powder form…
MCT powder offers a series of benefits that set it apart from the original liquid form—benefits that should be at the forefront of your mind when making your first ever MCT purchase…
1. MCT Powder Is Easier to Digest
MCT oil is known to cause digestive discomfort for some people…
This can vary from a rumbling stomach to diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Like other oils in nature, MCT oil doesn’t occur on its own but instead must be sourced from oil-rich foods like coconut or palm fruit. Because of this, your body isn’t necessarily used to handling large doses of pure oil on its own.
MCT powder, on the other hand, is better tolerated by most people. In powder form, the oil is mixed with a fibrous carrier powder. This allows it to be digested and absorbed more slowly, easing stress on your stomach (11).
When you take MCT powder, you’re less likely to experience digestive issues.
2. MCT Powder Is More Absorbable
MCT powder is more absorbable thanks to a process called emulsification. Emulsification is when oil and water—which typically cannot dissolve into each other—are forced together in a suspension.
When fat is emulsified, it makes it easier for your body to digest and absorb it. In fact, emulsification is one of the critical steps that take place in your digestive tract before fat in your diet is absorbed into your body.
When MCT oil is combined with fiber to make a powder, it allows for better emulsification than in oil form. That makes for an increased ketogenic result and better absorption into energy, making the powder form the best for weight loss (12).
3. MCT Powder Is Easier to Use
From a practical perspective, MCT powder is a lot easier (and less messy) to use than MCT oil…
Anyone who regularly uses oils in their kitchen knows that oils often require their own designated storage spaces or shelves so that they don’t leave residue on other containers or surfaces.
This isn’t the worst hassle in the world, of course. But it’s just, well, annoying…
It’s so much simpler to tuck a jar of powder into your kitchen cabinet and pull it out whenever needed without making a mess all over your hands and the countertop.
Furthermore, oil can be a major nuisance to travel with. If you pack it aboard a flight, you’ll be subject to security restrictions around liquid container sizes. Or even more frustrating…you may end up with one of the more frequent nightmares for travelers: Spilled oil all over your suitcase. Oily substances are notoriously difficult to secure in their containers and are susceptible to leaks.
If you use MCT powder, on the other hand, it’s much easier to pop into your bag securely without worry of restrictions or spills.
4. MCT Powder Is Much More Versatile
There are only a handful of ways to take MCT oil…
You can either drink it straight or mix it into a beverage like a smoothie, and that’s where your options end. And as its name suggests, MCT oil brings an oily texture to any beverage that it’s mixed into.
MCT oil powder, on the other hand, has a much wider range of use. It’s easily blendable and creates a smooth, creamy texture. It makes for an excellent addition to your coffee, tea, or smoothie, and it can easily mix into foods like oatmeal and yogurt.
Many people prefer MCT powder to oil simply because it goes down easier. Its texture also makes it a great substitute for creamer if you’re dairy-free.
How to Supplement with MCT Powder
Now for the fun part: Integrating MCT powder into your routine…
By far, the most popular way to take MCT powder is in your morning coffee or tea, especially as a replacement for Half and Half or sugary, dairy-laden creamer.
Just about any food or beverage with a liquid or semi-liquid consistency makes an excellent base for mixing in MCT powder.
The Best Time to Take MCT Powder
Wondering when the best time is to take MCT powder?
Well, it depends…
If you’re taking MCTs to lose belly fat, then mornings would be the most ideal time. The ketones that MCTs produce help to suppress hunger and burn fat—without making you feel deprived.
If you’re taking MCTs for mental clarity, they can be enjoyed at any time of day. This gives your brain extra energy to clear any lingering brain fog.
If you’re a fan of intermittent fasting, MCT powder in your morning coffee is a great way to keep blood glucose and insulin low while providing a boost in ketones (energy).
Another great way to supplement with MCT powder is before a workout. Since MCTs convert to energy within minutes, you’re equipping your muscles with the fuel they need to crush your workout.
The Bottom Line
Medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs) are a type of fatty acid derived from coconut oil.
With benefits ranging from reduced brain fog to natural energy to easier weight loss, hundreds of thousands of people across the world are now adding it to their daily routine.
As you go about choosing an MCT supplement, be sure to consider the four key differences between liquid and powder MCTs that were listed above…
MCT powder is easier to digest, more absorbable, less messy, and has many more (yummier) uses.
That’s why here at NativePath, we choose to offer our MCTs in powder form. Our powerful coconut-derived MCTs are packed with C8—the most ketogenic MCT—and are poised to help you stay energized, focused, and full.
What do allergies, autoimmune disease, and brain fog all have in common? They can all be caused by leaky gut syndrome.
As a doctor of Physical Therapy, Senior Wellness Expert, and co-founder of NativePath, Dr. Walding has helped millions of people improve their quality of life from the inside out—by speaking, writing, and educating others on how to live life a little more #OnThePath.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.