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MCT Oil Vs. MCT Oil Powder: What’s The Difference?

As MCT oil continues to gain popularity, a question is emerging among its users -- should I go for pure MCT oil or try MCT oil powder?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The difference between MCT oil and MCT oil powder
  • Why MCT oil powder may be the more practical (and tasty) choice
  • What to look for in your MCT supplement 
  • How and when to use MCTs

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT oil, or MCTs, stands for Medium-Chain Triglycerides. MCT oil is becoming a popular supplement due to its structure, as it differs from long-chain triglycerides in the way that your body processes it. 

The majority of the fat you eat comes from long-chain triglycerides, which have to travel through your lymphatic system before they can find their way to your liver for processing. This is why, generally speaking, fat doesn’t make a great source of energy when you’re looking for a quick boost. 

On the other hand, MCTs skip your lymph altogether and therefore get processed by your liver quickly and efficiently. 

Due to their structure and absorption, MCTs offer a range of unique health benefits, which is why you’re likely seeing them pop up everywhere health products are sold. 

Health Benefits Of MCTs

The most obvious benefit of MCTs is the instant energy they can provide. While glucose (from carbohydrates) offers the same energy-boosting qualities, MCTs are a preferred fuel source if you’re trying to keep carbs low. 

Furthermore, although glucose can certainly boost the energy available to you in the short term, once your body recognizes that there is a significant amount of glucose in your blood (AKA blood sugar), the hormone insulin is signaled, and all that blood sugar is shuttled into your cells or stored as fat, and you end up “crashing,” instead of maintaining steady energy[1]

In addition to giving your energy a boost, MCTs have also been studied for:

  • Promoting healthy gut bacteria[2]
  • Boosting immunity[3]
  • Increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake[4]
  • Supporting weight loss[5]
  • Stimulating ketosis[6] 
  • Improving heart health[7] 
  • Enhancing exercise performance[8] 

 For keto diets, another significant benefit of MCT supplements is their ability to help ease the transition into ketosis and minimize symptoms of “keto flu.” As you transition into ketosis, your body is undertaking a drastic shift in metabolism. As a result, many people experience flu-like symptoms during the transition, like headaches, chills, brain fog, body aches, and nausea. 

Due to the highly ketogenic nature of MCTs (their ability to produce ketones), when you take MCTs during this transitory phase of the diet, it provides your body with an extra boost of energy that would otherwise be lacking. As a result, many people feel that their keto flu symptoms are greatly diminished when supplementing with MCTs[9]

MCT Oil Liquid Vs. MCT Oil Powder

As you begin looking around for an MCT oil supplement, you’ll likely notice that they come in two forms; liquid or powder. What’s the difference between the two? MCTs are naturally found in liquid form, which is why most research is conducted on liquid MCTs. With that being said, many companies are moving towards MCT oil powder as an alternative to pure oil for a variety of reasons. 

These include:

Digestion

MCT oil is known to cause some digestive discomfort. This can vary from a rumbling stomach to diarrhea, nausea, or even vomiting. Like every other oil in nature, MCT oil doesn’t occur naturally but instead must be derived from oil-rich foods. In the case of MCTs, those foods are usually coconut or palm fruit. As such, your body isn’t necessarily equipped to handle large doses of pure oil on its own. 

MCT oil powder, on the other hand, is much more well tolerated by most people. Because the powder is a combination of oil and a fibrous material, MCT oil powder is more slowly digested and absorbed, easing the load on your stomach[10]

As a result, when you take MCT oil powder, you not only avoid digestive upset, but since your body doesn’t reject it (often through diarrhea), you end up getting more bang for your buck.  

Better Emulsification 

Emulsification is the process by which 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 the fat you eat is absorbed into your body. 

Research shows that when MCTs are emulsified, they’re more readily absorbed, and therefore have a greater ketogenic effect -- they allow your liver to produce more ketones. 

When MCT oil is combined with fiber to make a powder, it allows for better emulsification, enhancing the digestive process[11]

Ease of Use

From a practical perspective, using MCT oil powder is a lot easier than MCT oil for a handful of reasons. First, oil is just plain messier than powder. Many people find it cumbersome to work with oil as it can easily spill, leaving you with a slippery, oily mess. 

Furthermore, if you’re traveling, it can be a nuisance to try to bring anything liquid with you. Not only do you have to check it in a bag if you’re flying, but if the lid isn’t on tight or it gets tossed around too much, you may end up with an oily mess in your suitcase. 

Even if you’re just trying to bring your MCTs with you for a day trip or to work, lugging around oil in your bag is a lot more inconvenient than powder. 

More Applications

There’s really only a couple of ways to take MCT oil; you can either shoot it straight or add it to a smoothie. MCT oil powder, on the other hand, is a lot more versatile. 

While MCT oil is, well, oily, MCT oil powder offers a smooth and creamy texture. It makes an excellent addition to coffee or a latte and can easily mix into foods like smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and so on. Many people prefer MCT oil powder to oil simply because it goes down easier. It also offers a great substitute for cream if you’re dairy-free. 

What Else To Look For With MCTs?

Aside from determining if a powder is a better option for you than MCT oil, there are a few other things to consider when looking for an MCT supplement. 

Added Ingredients 

First, always take a look at the other ingredients that are added to your supplement. The one downside of powders is that they are much more likely to be mixed with other ingredients like sugar or preservatives. 

However, it’s easy to tell if your MCT supplement is pure by looking at the label. In general, all you should see is MCT oil, and if it’s a powder, there will be a form of fiber, like gum acacia. 

In addition, there are some flavored varieties of MCT oil powder that make your MCTs even more delicious, but even for those options, you should only see natural flavors and sweeteners. 

Sourcing 

Most MCT supplements are derived from either palm fruit or coconut. While both will provide the same health benefits, there are environmental issues for sourcing palm oil. Specifically, palm oil cultivation creates an issue with deforestation and leaves orangutans homeless and in great danger. 

Therefore, if you have the choice between palm oil-derived MCTs or coconut MCTs, always go for coconut. 

Testing

Just like any other supplement on the market, MCTs may contain contaminants due to processing and improper sourcing. The only way to be sure that the supplement you’re purchasing is pure is to see if it’s been tested by a third party.
 

How To Take MCT Oil Powder

Now for the fun part; figuring out how to take your MCT oil powder. 

As previously mentioned, MCT oil powder offers a creamy consistency, and it dissolves easily in liquid. This makes it a fantastic replacement for dairy creamer or an excellent addition to any food or drink that you want to make more rich and creamy. 

By far, the most popular way to take MCT oil powder is to add it to your morning coffee. However, many people also enjoy mixing it into tea or lattes as well. 

If you’re a smoothie person, add a scoop of MCTs to your morning shake, or incorporate it into hot cereal like oatmeal (or keto oatmeal). 

Basically, anything with a liquid or semi-liquid consistency makes an excellent base for mixing in MCT oil powder. You could even add it to soups or stews. 

When To Take MCT Oil Powder

As mentioned above, taking MCT oil powder in the morning is the most popular time to enjoy this creamy supplement. 

However, you can also take it when you need a little energy boost. Aside from the morning, pre-workout is another fantastic time to enjoy MCTs or around 3 pm (the mid-afternoon slump) to keep you going through the afternoon. 

If you like to do intermittent fasting, you can also enjoy some MCTs in your coffee as they’ll keep blood glucose and insulin low while providing a boost in ketones. 

Takeaway

Whether they’re in their liquid or powder form, MCTs offer a wide range of health benefits. As you go about choosing which type of MCT supplement to buy, however, that MCT powder is more easily digested, tastes better, and may provide a more potent source of MCTs than the oil.

Furthermore, many people find that MCT powder is much easier to work with as it’s less messy, travels easier, and has a broader range of potential applications like coffee and smoothies. 

Learn about NativePath MCT Powder Here. 

References

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/b 
  2. Rial, Sabri Ahmed, et al. "Gut microbiota and metabolic health: the potential beneficial effects of a medium chain triglyceride diet in obese individuals." Nutrients 8.5 (2016): 281.
  3. Olthof, Evelyn D., et al. "Immune activation by medium-chain triglyceride-containing lipid emulsions is not modulated by n-3 lipids or toll-like receptor 4." Toxicology in Vitro 29.7 (2015): 1851-1858.
  4. Coleman, Hannah, Paul Quinn, and Miriam E. Clegg. "Medium-chain triglycerides and conjugated linoleic acids in beverage form increase satiety and reduce food intake in humans." Nutrition Research 36.6 (2016): 526-533.
  5. Han, Jian Rong, et al. "Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects." Metabolism 56.7 (2007): 985-991.
  6. Courchesne-Loyer, Alexandre, et al. "Stimulation of mild, sustained ketonemia by medium-chain triacylglycerols in healthy humans: estimated potential contribution to brain energy metabolism." Nutrition 29.4 (2013): 635-640.
  7. Bourque, Christine, et al. "Consumption of an oil composed of medium chain triacyglycerols, phytosterols, and N-3 fatty acids improves cardiovascular risk profile in overweight women." Metabolism 52.6 (2003): 771-777.
  8. Nosaka, Naohisa, et al. "Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate-and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes." Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 55.2 (2009): 120-125.
  9. d C Harvey, Cliff J., et al. "The effect of medium chain triglycerides on time to nutritional ketosis and symptoms of keto-induction in healthy adults: a randomised controlled clinical trial." Journal of nutrition and metabolism 2018 (2018).
  10. Trauner, Doris A. "Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) diet in intractable seizure disorders." Neurology 35.2 (1985): 237-237.
  11. Courchesne-Loyer, Alexandre, et al. "Emulsification increases the acute ketogenic effect and bioavailability of medium-chain triglycerides in humans: protein, carbohydrate, and fat metabolism." Current developments in nutrition 1.7 (2017): e000851.


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Medical Disclaimer
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.

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