Top 10 MCT Oil Benefits Backed by Recent Science

The various benefits of MCT oil made it very popular, especially among people who enjoy the keto diet. While it is mainly known for its ability to induce ketosis readily, it has a lot of health benefits backed by scientific studies. This comprehensive article will cover the top 10 MCT Oil benefits, from its satiating to anti-inflammatory effects. 

MCT Oil Benefits Overview

  1. Lowers Caloric Intake
  2. Helps Maintain Ketosis
  3. Promotes Brain Health
  4. Aids Weight Loss
  5. Promotes Gut Health
  6. Enhances Performance
  7. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
  8. Promotes Heart Health
  9. Prevents Bacterial Growth 
  10. Prevents Inflammation

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT oil is a concentrated form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), often extracted from natural sources like coconut or palm oil. MCTs are unique fatty acids comprising medium-length chains of fats, which makes them easily digestible by the body.

The composition of MCT oil typically includes four main types of medium-chain fatty acids: caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12).

Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which are prevalent in most dietary fats, MCTs are quickly metabolized and converted into energy by the liver. This efficient conversion process distinguishes MCT oil as a readily available and fast-acting energy source for the body.

In the keto diet, MCT oil is often mixed with coffee, tea, juices, and smoothies to provide a readily available source for ketone production. Unlike coconut oil, MCT oil is unsuitable for high-heat cooking because it has a lower smoking point.

Which Foods contain MCTs?

  • Coconut Oil: Around 60% MCTs, mostly lauric acid
  • Palm Kernel Oil: Predominantly caprylic acid (C8)
  • MCT Oil: 100% MCT, often a mixture of different medium-chain fatty acids
  • Palm Oil: Mostly lauric acid
  • Laurel Oil: Mostly lauric acid
  • Coconut Meat: Mixture of different MCTs, mostly lauric acid
  • Coconut Milk: Mixture of different MCTs, mostly lauric acid
  • Butter: Mixture of different MCTs
  • Mammalian Milk: Mixture of different MCTs, with goat milk having the highest level of MCT content
  • Yogurt: Mixture of different MCTs
  • Cheese: Mixture of different MCTs

Health Benefits of MCT Oil

mct oil in coffee offers various health benefits

1. Lowers Caloric Intake

MCT oil has lower calorie density compared to long-chain fats. Each tablespoon of MCT oil (about 14 grams) offers 115 calories, compared to the 120 calories in one tablespoon of olive oil and 124 calories in avocado oil.

A 2021 systematic review showed that people who include MCTs in their diet have way less caloric intake.1

Some speculate that MCT may affect the hunger hormones peptide YY and leptin, but studies have shown no correlation2. Nevertheless, MCT oil is an excellent way to maintain daily caloric intake within the allowed amount.   

2. Helps Maintain Ketosis

MCTs are readily converted into ketones by the liver, promoting a state of ketosis, a phase where the body uses fats as an energy source.3 

Specific MCTs, such as tricaprylin, increase plasma ketone levels more4 than other medium-chain triglycerides like coconut oil. MCT oil is also keto-friendly as it has no carbohydrates, ensuring you maintain ketosis.

3. Promotes Brain Health

The ketones produced by MCT oil benefit the brain during ketosis. Ketones, especially beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), act as a more stable energy source for the brain without glucose, ensuring maintained cognitive function.5

MCT oil also has neuroprotective benefits, and studies have proven its benefits for cognitive health among patients with Alzheimer’s disease.6

The most extended study for MCT oil use and Alzheimer’s disease also concluded that 80% of the subjects taking MCT oil5 for 9 months had stabilization or improved cognition and better response.   

4. Aids Weight Loss

MCT oil’s low-calorie content and ability to reduce daily caloric intake promotes sustained weight loss. Moreover, its ability to maintain ketosis increases fat oxidation,7 resulting in weight reduction due to fat loss. 

Studies have also demonstrated MCT oil’s ability to reduce weight better than olive oil.8 This study is supported by a meta-analysis that MCTs are better for weight loss and overall body composition management9 than long-chained triglycerides.

5. Promotes Gut Health

MCT oil has been shown to improve gut microbiota and permeability,10 leading to a healthier gut. This is mainly due to its ability to increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure. 

There is also evidence of MCT oil’s ability to reduce diarrhea. In a 2022 study, 4-week MCT supplementation11 decreased diarrhea incidence, reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines, and enhanced anti-inflammatory cytokines among its subjects. 

6. Enhance Exercise and Athletic Performance

MCT oil boosts exercise performance and endurance. Experts suggest that the increased endurance is due to its ability to increase mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism,12 resulting in increased energy levels.

An older study also suggests that MCT-containing food suppresses lactate concentration and rating of perceived exertion13 increase during moderate-intensity exercise, extending high-intensity exercise duration at higher levels than food containing long-chain fatty acids.

7. Improves Blood Sugar Levels

Studies suggest that MCTs reduce blood sugar levels and insulin resistance,14 increase serum C-peptide concentrations, and decrease weight. 

Moreover, MCT oil can induce and maintain ketosis, which leads to reduced blood sugar levels15 and increased insulin sensitivity as well.16 This means that adding MCT oil to your keto diet provides synergistic effects. 

8. Promotes Heart Health

MCT oil promotes heart health by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. In a study among 40 women who received 1-week MCT supplementation,17 their HDL increased while the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) decreased. 

HDL’s cardioprotective role has been established, while increased LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 

9. Prevents Bacterial and Fungal Growth

Virgin coconut oil (VCO) has been widely studied for its antimicrobial activity due to MTCs, especially lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid.

Studies support MCTs’ ability to suppress the growth of C. difficile,18 S. aureus,19 and Candida species.20

10. Prevents Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory effects of MCT oil have been scientifically established. There is evidence of MCTs’ ability to activate macrophages,21 decreasing inflammation. 

Studies also support the anti-inflammatory effects of specific MCTs, including lauric acid,22 capric acid,23 and caprylic acid.24  

Potential Drawbacks of MCT Oil

  • Saturated fats: While some people still have concerns about cardiovascular health since MCTs are saturated fatty acids, various studies show different results. Saturated fatty acids do not cause cardiovascular disease.25 Studies have shown that they reduce heart disease.26 Some studies even suggest that saturated fats can protect against stroke.27
  • Calories: Fats like MCTs offer more calories than other food groups, and taking too much MCT oil may lead to taking more calories than required, which may result in weight gain. 
  • Smoking point: It’s also important to consider that MCT oil has a lower smoking point than coconut oil. It is only suitable for low to medium-heat cooking. Instead, most people add MCT oil to their coffee to make bulletproof coffee

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is it OK to take MCT oil every day?

Yes, you can take MCT oil daily, but it should still be in moderation. If you’re doing the keto diet, you can include MCT oil in your bulletproof coffee in the morning and continue with your routine keto diet meals.

Does MCT oil reduce belly fat?

MCT oil encourages weight loss due to fat oxidation, and coupled with proper caloric intake discipline, MCT oil will reduce one’s waist circumference and BMI.

What is MCT oil made out of?

As the name suggests, MCT oil is made from medium-chain triglycerides. This means it contains fatty acids such as lauric, capric, caproic, and caprylic acids. The oil part is derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. 

Is MCT oil anti-inflammatory?

Yes, MCT oil has anti-inflammatory properties, activating macrophages and reducing unwanted immune responses. 


1Maher, T., & Clegg, M. E. (2021). A systematic review and meta-analysis of medium-chain triglycerides effects on acute satiety and food intake. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 61(4), 636–648.

2St-Onge, P., Mayrsohn, B., Kissileff, H. R., Choudhury, A. R., & Laferrère, B. (2014). Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68(10), 1134.

3Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2023 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

4Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Fortier, M., Castellano, A., Cuenoud, B., & Cunnane, S. C. (2020). Medium Chain Triglycerides Modulate the Ketogenic Effect of a Metabolic Switch. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7.

5Juby, A. G., Blackburn, T. E., & Mager, D. R. (2022). Use of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil in subjects with Alzheimer’s disease: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, crossover study, with an open‐label extension. Alzheimer’s & Dementia : Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, 8(1).

6Sun, L., Ye, K. X., Kathleen Wong, H. L., Wang, L., Lim, S. L., Chao, Y. X., Zhang, C., Yap, K. Z., & Feng, L. (2023). The Effects of Medium Chain Triglyceride for Alzheimer’s Disease Related Cognitive Impairment: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 94(2), 441-456.

7Volek, J. S., Freidenreich, D. J., Saenz, C., Kunces, L. J., Creighton, B. C., Bartley, J. M., Davitt, P. M., Munoz, C. X., Anderson, J. M., Maresh, C. M., Lee, E. C., Schuenke, M. D., Aerni, G., Kraemer, W. J., & Phinney, S. D. (2016). Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. Metabolism: clinical and experimental, 65(3), 100–110.

8St-Onge, P., & Bosarge, A. (2008). 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. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(3), 621.

9Mumme, K., & Stonehouse, W. (2015). Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(2), 249–263.

10Rial SA, Karelis AD, Bergeron KF, Mounier C. Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals. Nutrients. 2016 May 12;8(5):281. doi: 10.3390/nu8050281. PMID: 27187452; PMCID: PMC4882694.

11Xu, Q., Li, H., Liu, Y., Zhang, P., Zhang, Y., Zhang, X., & Liu, Y. (2022). Medium-chain triglycerides reduce diarrhea with improved immune status and gut microbiomics in tunnel workers in China. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 31(2), 229–241.

12Wang, Y., Liu, Z., Han, Y., Xu, J., Huang, W., & Li, Z. (2018). Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. PLoS ONE, 13(2).

13Nosaka, N., Suzuki, Y., Nagatoishi, A., Kasai, M., Wu, J., & Taguchi, M. (2009). Effect of ingestion of medium-chain triacylglycerols on moderate- and high-intensity exercise in recreational athletes. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 55(2), 120–125.

14Han, J. R., Deng, B., Sun, J., Chen, C. G., Corkey, B. E., Kirkland, J. L., Ma, J., & Guo, W. (2007). 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: clinical and experimental, 56(7), 985–991.

15Alarim, R. A., Alasmre, F. A., Alotaibi, H. A., Alshehri, M. A., & Hussain, S. A. (2020). Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Glycemic Control in Diabetic Patients: Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Cureus, 12(10).

16Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Moro, T., Mota, J. F., & Coelho-Ravagnani, C. F. (2023). The Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Loss, Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg? Nutrients, 15(14).

17Assunção, M. L., Ferreira, H. S., dos Santos, A. F., Cabral, C. R., Jr, & Florêncio, T. M. (2009). Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids, 44(7), 593–601.

18Shilling, M., Matt, L., Rubin, E., Visitacion, M. P., Haller, N. A., Grey, S. F., & Woolverton, C. J. (2013). Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. Journal of medicinal food, 16(12), 1079–1085.

19Widianingrum, D. C., Noviandi, C. T., & Salasia, S. I. O. (2019). Antibacterial and immunomodulator activities of virgin coconut oil (VCO) against Staphylococcus aureus. Heliyon, 5(10), e02612.

20Arsenault, A. B., W. Gunsalus, K. T., Laforce-Nesbitt, S. S., Przystac, L., DeAngelis, E. J., Hurley, M. E., Vorel, E. S., Tucker, R., Matthan, N. R., Lichtenstein, A. H., Kumamoto, C. A., & Bliss, J. M. (2019). Dietary Supplementation with Medium-Chain Triglycerides Reduces Candida Gastrointestinal Colonization in Preterm Infants. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 38(2), 164.

21Yu, S., & Kim, W. (2019). Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil Affects the Immunophenotype via Reprogramming of Mitochondrial Respiration in Murine Macrophages. Foods, 8(11).

22Mustafa, A., Indiran, M. A., Shanmugham, R., & Ramalingam, K. (2023). Anti-inflammatory activity of lauric acid, thiocolchicoside and thiocolchicoside-lauric acid formulation. Bioinformation, 19(11), 1075-1080.

23Lee, S. I., & Kang, K. S. (2017). Function of capric acid in cyclophosphamide-induced intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, and barrier function in pigs. Scientific Reports, 7.

24Zhang, X., Xue, C., Xu, Q., Zhang, Y., Li, H., Li, F., Liu, Y., & Guo, C. (2019). Caprylic acid suppresses inflammation via TLR4/NF-κB signaling and improves atherosclerosis in ApoE-deficient mice. Nutrition & Metabolism, 16.

25Hite, A. H., Feinman, R. D., Guzman, G. E., Satin, M., Schoenfeld, P. A., & Wood, R. J. (2010). In the face of contradictory evidence: report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.)26(10), 915–924.

26Mozaffarian, D., Rimm, E. B., & Herrington, D. M. (2004). Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(5), 1175.

27Siri-Tarino, P. W., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., & Krauss, R. M. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(3), 535-546.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

Leave a Reply