How To Use MCT Oil For Weight Loss

  • By Performance Lab
  • 6 minute read
How To Use MCT Oil For Weight Loss

If you've ever looked into keto or intermittent fasting, you've likely heard something about MCT oil. Touted for its role in keeping you in ketosis and maintaining a fasted state, it seems like a wonder fat for everything!

MCTs are a great addition to the diet because they can be used for quick energy—both in the form of energy-dense fat but also in their conversion to ketones if you're following a ketogenic diet.

Based on their role in the body, you can think of MCT oil as the premium fuel you get at a gas pump; the better fuel (energy) you put into your body, the faster and better your car (body) will perform.

So, what about MCT oil for weight loss—does it help or hinder it?

That's exactly what we're going to explore! This article tackles everything you need to know about using MCT to support your weight loss goals—what it is, why it's beneficial for weight loss, and how to use it.

What is MCT?

MCTs are a type of saturated fatty acid native to coconut and palm oil, and it is also found in some dairy products. While it's primarily derived from coconut oil, it's not the same; it contains a different profile of fatty acids that give it its unique properties.

The MCT oil you'll find on shelves is made from pure MCTs extracted from whole food oils by a process called fractionation (isolating specific fatty acids). Most MCT oils—including Performance Lab MCT—are a blend of C8 and C10 fats, but they can also come in 100% caprylic acid or capric acid.

Typically, though, you'll find a mix containing anywhere from 50 to 80% caprylic acid (C8) and 20-50% capric acid (C10). Caprylic acid tends to be the predominant fat in MCT oil because its shorter length is absorbed more rapidly than capric acid.

But when you find a high-quality MCT oil, caproic acid (C6) and lauric acid (C12) are generally removed for palatability and absorption purposes.

Let's quickly look at a bit of a side note on comparisons of fatty acids:

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) comprised of 0-5 carbons are both produced in the gut and consumed through food and contribute to gut health by fermenting fiber in the colon; they provide energy for cells lining your colon 1.

Long-chain fatty acids (13-21 carbons) are consumed through food sources and are found in fatty foods and oils; they are preferentially metabolized in the intestine, where they're incorporated into chylomicrons before being utilized or stored 2.

MCTs (6-12 carbons), on the other hand, are absorbed intact, transported to the liver intact, and are preferentially available for hepatic mitochondrial β-oxidation (i.e., energy production).

MCTs are also found in food sources, but what separates them from other fats is how they're processed by the body, which is why they're touted for being so beneficial for weight loss.

MCT vs. Coconut Oil

While MCT is largely derived from coconut, coconut oil doesn't contain the same metabolic properties as MCT does; coconut oil comprises about 60% MCTs while pure MCT is 100%.

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It also contains a large percentage of lauric acid (C12), which isn't absorbed efficiently, unlike caprylic and capric acid. Some studies suggest that lauric acid behaves more like a long-chain fatty acid, which means it requires digestion in the liver before being utilized.

Why is MCT Beneficial For Weight Loss?

When it comes to weight loss, MCT seems to be the fat that helps you lose fat. It has many properties that make it a great weight loss aid. Let's explore the best benefits:

  1. Thermogenesis—MCTs appear to induce thermogenesis—the generation of heat in the body, which means they could help burn calories, even at rest. In one study, researchers fed six lean and six obese young males meals containing 38g of fat in the form of LCTs or MCTs plus LCTs 3. In both lean and obese subjects, postprandial thermogenesis was increased after consuming meals containing MCTs. Another study found that daily consumption of 20g of MCT in overweight participants resulted in lower body weight at the end of the experimentation period compared to participants consuming the same amount of olive oil 4. The group consuming MCTs also had lower total fat mass. While a slight increase in energy expenditure may not play a substantial role in weight loss, there is support that MCTs can help mitigate declining metabolic rates and decreased energy levels that often result from calorie restriction when trying to lose weight.


  2. Increased Energy Production—Since MCTs are readily oxidized in the liver, they provide a rapid energy source in the form of fat and ketones. One study looked at the effects of energy expenditure in people consuming MCT oil or corn oil and found that despite following the same diet (15% protein, 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat), the group consuming MCT had a 65% greater energy expenditure than those consuming corn oil with just a 48% increase 5. Essentially, MCTs can help you burn more calories while eating the same amount of food.


  3. Rarely stored as fat—Because of the unique way they're metabolized, MCTs are rarely stored as fat; they are oxidized to a greater extent than LCTs, which means they have less opportunity for deposition into adipose tissue 6. Now, this doesn't give you a free pass to consuming all the MCT oil you want because it still comes with a calorie tag, but it safeguards you slightly against the possibility of packing on fat if you consume too much.


  4. Regulate appetite—Fats have always been known to be satiating because they're more energy-dense and take longer to digest than carbs. But it seems like MCT may be on its own pedestal. Several studies have found that MCTs increase satiety more than LCTs, and while it was traditionally thought to result from altered gut hormones, some research suggests it may actually be because of the thermal and oxidative pathways that enhance thermogenesis and satiety, thereby reducing energy intake 7. But MCTs have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which means better blood glucose regulation, fewer blood sugar fluctuations, and fewer cravings and raging hunger.

    How To Use MCT For Weight Loss

    There's a lot to talk about with MCTs, but it's pretty simple for the purposes of weight loss—clean up your diet and start consuming MCT. But remember that you can't add MCT into a dirty diet expecting it to work miracles.

    MCT oil subs in as an excellent replacement for the long-chain fatty acids naturally consumed in your diet (avocado oil, olive oil, etc.), but when you're looking towards MCT for weight loss, you have to keep one thing in mind: the dose.

    The exact amount you consume for weight loss will ultimately come down to staying within your energy needs (calories), because despite being a powerful source of energy that rarely gets stored as fat, MCT is still a fat and therefore still contributes to your daily energy intake.

    I know we all wish that we could gorge ourselves on calorie-burning foods and still lose weight, but unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

    While weight-loss boils down to more than just calories in vs. calories out, understanding your energy needs is vital because if you're eating more than you're burning, you're going to struggle to lose weight.

    Based on available research, it seems that 1-2 tbsp (15-30g) daily is enough to elicit many MCT oil benefits in conjunction with a slightly calorie-reduced diet.

    You also have to remember that if you've never taken MCT before, too large a dose can cause some pretty unpleasant GI effects like abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea, so it's always best to start with one teaspoon and work your way up to the desired amount.

    If you're looking to include a couple of tablespoons daily, it may be best to break it up into 2-3 servings to avoid any side effects.

    Final Thoughts

    In the world of fats, MCTs are a standalone star. Whether it's cognitive health and immune function, or heart health and athletic performance, they're pretty much a superstar in the fat world.

    But when it comes to weight loss, MCTs perform. They help increase energy expenditure, boost energy levels, and regulate appetite to help you consume less, burn more, and achieve your goals. And when you can find a pure, high-quality MCT oil like Performance Lab MCT, you know it's time to upgrade!

    Get the best price on Performance Lab MCT here


    1. SI Cook, JH Sellin. Review article: short chain fatty acids in health and disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1998;12(6):499-507.
    2. C Beermann, J Jelinek, T Reinecker, A Hauenschild, G Boehm, HU Klör. Short term effects of dietary medium-chain fatty acids and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on the fat metabolism of healthy volunteers. Lipids Health Dis. 2003;2:10.
    3. L Scalfi, A Coltorti, F Contaldo. Postprandial thermogenesis in lean and obese subjects after meals supplemented with medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;53(5):1130-1133.
    4. MP St-Onge, A Bosarge. 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;87(3):621-626.
    5. MP St-Onge, PJ Jones. Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. J Nutr. 2002;132(3):329-332.
    6. MP St-Onge. Dietary fats, teas, dairy, and nuts: potential functional foods for weight control? Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(1):7-15.
    7. MP St-Onge, B Mayrsohn, M O'Keeffe, HR Kissileff, AR Choudhury, B Laferrère. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(10):1134-1140.