MCT Oil vs. Powder: What’s the Difference? Which Is Best? 

MCT oil and MCT powder contain medium-chain triglycerides and offer the same benefits. However, they differ in a few ways. This article will discuss the top five differences and provide other essential insights.

Key Takeaways:

  • MCT Powder is more easily absorbed than MCT Oil.
  • Both have a shelf-life of about 2 years, while MCT Powder will lose quality over time once opened.
  • MCT oil is best used for salad dressings, sauces, soups, and bulletproof coffee. 
  • MCT powder makes smoothies, protein shakes, tea, coffee, and yogurt bowls creamier.

Table of Contents:

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT oil is derived from natural sources such as coconut or palm oil. It consists of medium-length fatty acid chains, specifically caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), lauric acid (C12), and caproic acid (C6).

The extraction process involves fractionation, separating the different fatty acid types. This process isolates the medium-chain triglycerides, particularly C8 and C10, to create a concentrated MCT oil.

Unlike long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) 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.

What Is MCT Powder?

MCT powder is a convenient alternative to MCT oil. It provides the same medium-chain triglycerides in a powdered form. 

MCT oil is mixed with a carrier substance, often a starch or fiber, to create an emulsion. This step helps stabilize the oil and allows it to be converted into a powder form.

The emulsion is then subjected to a spray-drying process. In this process, it is exposed to hot air, causing the liquid to evaporate and leaving behind small, dry particles of MCT powder.

MCT powder retains the same fatty acid composition as MCT oil, with varying concentrations of caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), lauric acid (C12), and caproic acid (C6), depending on the source and manufacturing process.

What Are the Differences Between MCT Oil and MCT Powder?

Before diving into the differences, it’s important to note that there are limited studies directly comparing MCT oil vs MCT powder. Still, we will use related studies to back these claims. 

1. Absorption

While no direct studies compare the absorption rate of MCT oil and MCT powder, MCT powder tends to be more easily absorbed due to emulsification. 

When ingesting lipids in oil form, the pancreas uses enzymes like lipase1 to emulsify the fat for easier absorption. However, MCT powder has a carrier substance that makes it easier to emulsify and absorb.

This claim is backed by a study on pre-emulsified omega-3 fatty acids, where pre-emulsification enhanced absorption.2 A study also shows that cholecalciferol powder is more efficiently absorbed3 than its oil counterpart. 

2. Shelf Life and Storage

MCT oil and MCT powder often have the same shelf life of about 2 years, depending on the manufacturer. However, some MCT powders have a shorter shelf life, about 1 year. 

Once opened, MCT powder is prone to clumping and deteriorating. To avoid this, store it properly in a cool, dry, and dark place and keep it tightly closed.

Conversely, MCT oil is more stable for a longer period when stored away from heat and sunlight. 

3. Convenience

MCT powder is more convenient than MCT oil. There are single-serve MCT powder products for travel or workout purposes. It is less messy and is easily incorporated into your pre-workout drinks without any noticeable taste.

On the other hand, MCT oil needs a proper container when traveling, especially if you’re not planning on bringing the whole tub. It is prone to spilling and is harder to incorporate into drinks. 

4. Side Effects

Gastrointestinal issues are one of the most common side effects of MCT oil. While this does not happen to everyone, those who have experienced it may benefit from MCT powder. 

Since the powder form is easier to digest and absorb, it may lessen the risks of developing diarrhea or other symptoms. 

5. Texture and Uses

As the name implies, MCT oil is liquid, while MCT powder is in powder form. This difference in texture makes all the difference when using both products. 

MCT oil is best used for salad dressings and sauces, broths or soups, or as a topper for your bulletproof coffee. 

On the other hand, MCT powder has a creamy texture when blended, making it a better option for smoothies and protein shakes, as a creamer for tea and coffee, and as a topper for yogurt bowls and no-bake snacks. 

Both MCT oil and MCT powder are not compatible with high-temperature cooking. 

What Are the Health Benefits of MCTs?

MCTs have numerous health benefits. 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.4 

MCTs are lower in calories than other fat sources, making them a better option for tracking keto macros. A meta-analysis study reveals that MCTs are better for weight loss and overall body composition management5 than long-chained triglycerides.

MCTs also improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity,6 boost heart health,7 prevent post-workout muscle soreness,8 and reduce inflammation.9

How to Pick the Best MCT Supplement

MCT Oil vs. Powder

When choosing the best MCT supplement, here are the factors you need to consider:

1. MCT Composition

Do your research and determine the composition of the supplement’s medium-chain triglycerides. Some prefer high-C8 or high-C10 formulations for specific benefits, while others opt for a combination for a broader range of effects.

2. Source of MCTs

Consider the source of MCTs. Coconut oil is commonly preferred due to its higher MCT content and purity.

3. Additional Ingredients

Choose supplements with minimal additives, fillers, or preservatives. Transparent labeling is crucial for understanding the purity and quality of the MCT supplement. Choose ones with natural fiber carriers rather than ones with high-carb carriers like corn and maltodextrin. 

4. Processing Methods

Opt for supplements that use high-quality extraction methods. Processes such as cold-pressing help retain the integrity of MCTs, ensuring a more potent and effective supplement.

5. Allergens and Sensitivities

Individuals with allergies or sensitivities should check the product label for allergen information. Some may need to avoid MCT supplements derived from specific sources.

6. Brand Reputation

Choose supplements from reputable brands with a history of producing high-quality products. Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations can provide insights into a brand’s reputation.

7. Testing and Certification

Look for supplements that undergo third-party testing for quality and purity. Certifications from organizations like NSF, USP, or Informed Choice add an extra layer of assurance regarding the supplement’s integrity.

8. Personal Goals and Preference

Consider your goals, lifestyle, and preferences. You may opt for MCT oil or MCT powder depending on your planned usage. It’s all up to you. 

9. Cost

MCT oil is often more affordable than MCT powder. Thoroughly research reputable brands and find one that suits your budget. This ensures adherence to a more sustained lifestyle change. 

How to Use MCT Powder

Start with Small Amounts

Begin with a small amount, especially if new to MCTs, to allow the body to acclimate. Starting with a teaspoon and gradually increasing the dosage helps minimize the risk of digestive discomfort. 

Mixing with Beverages

Add a tablespoon of MCT powder to hot beverages like coffee or tea. The powder form ensures easy blending without a frother, creating a creamy texture. 

Smoothies and Shakes

Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT powder to your blender before adding the ice and fruits. This ensures the powder gets blended well into a creamy texture. Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT powder to your shaker and mix for pre-workout shakes and drinks.

Baking and Cooking

MCT powder is versatile. You can add it to your favorite low-carb baked or no-bake goods. You can add it as a thickener to soups and stews for cooking. Just ensure not to use it for frying or anything with high heat. 

Yogurt or Oatmeal Toppings

Add 1 tablespoon of MCT powder to your oatmeal (not recommended on keto), greek yogurt, or keto pudding to add texture and creaminess.

Monitoring Tolerance

Pay attention to how your body responds. Stop consumption and consult your healthcare provider if you notice any allergic reactions. For gastrointestinal issues, try cutting back, see how your body responds, and adjust dosage accordingly. 

Timing of Consumption

Consider your goals and consume MCT powder accordingly. For weight loss and intermittent fasting, have it before your meals. For an energy boost, add it to your pre-workout drinks. You can also have other benefits at any time of the day. 

The Bottom Line

MCT oil and MCT powder both contain medium-chain triglycerides. While both offer the same benefits, MCT powder is more convenient, versatile, and easier to digest and absorb. 

You can use it for various purposes with minimal side effects. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Is liquid or powdered MCT oil better?

MCT powder is better for convenience, versatility, and fewer side effects. 

What is the best form of MCT oil to take?

If you’re a beginner, you should start with MCT powder because it has fewer side effects and more efficient absorption. 

Who should not use MCT powder?

People with liver disease should avoid using MCT powder or MCT oil. The liver processes these products, and people with liver disease may struggle. Moreover, people with allergies to specific MCT ingredients should also avoid MCT powder.

What is the best quality MCT oil? 

The best quality products are often those derived from 100% coconut oil and contain only caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10). The product should be certified and tested and come from a reputable brand.


1Pirahanchi Y, Sharma S. Biochemistry, Lipase. [Updated 2023 Jun 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

2Garaiova, I., Guschina, I. A., Plummer, S. F., Tang, J., Wang, D., & Plummer, N. T. (2007). A randomised cross-over trial in healthy adults indicating improved absorption of omega-3 fatty acids by pre-emulsification. Nutrition Journal, 6, 4.

3Hermes, W. A., Alvarez, J. A., Lee, M. J., Chesdachai, S., Lodin, D., Horst, R., & Tangpricha, V. (2017). A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel-Group, Comparative Effectiveness Clinical Trial Comparing a Powder Vehicle Compound of Vitamin D With an Oil Vehicle Compound in Adults With Cystic Fibrosis. JPEN. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 41(6), 952.

4Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2023 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:

5Mumme, 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.

6Han, 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.

7Assunção, 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.

8Nosaka, 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.

9Yu, S., & Kim, W. (2019). Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil Affects the Immunophenotype via Reprogramming of Mitochondrial Respiration in Murine Macrophages. Foods, 8(11).

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.

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