Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging without a definitive answer. Ready? Here it is. The better choice overall is MCT oil. That being said there are a couple of instances when coconut oil should be used.
After reading this article you’ll know why MCT oil is better than coconut, and when and how to use both of these awesome fats most effectively.
What Makes MCT Oil Better Than Coconut
1. MCT Oil Contains Only ‘High Test’ Fats
This is most important if you are eating low carb and want to burn off fat instead sugar for energy. In a given tablespoon of coconut oil, approximately 60% of it is from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The remaining 40% is from other fats with their own benefits.
There are 4 different types of MCTs that make up this 60%. The greatest percentage comes from lauric acid, an MCT that has many health benefits. Unfortunately, these benefits do not include helping you quickly burn fat for energy. So, if your goal is to get into nutritional ketosis and burn fat for fuel, a fat that’s primarily lauric acid isn’t the best choice.
The other MCTs in coconut oil are caproic, capric, and caprylic acids. Like lauric acid, caproic acid also doesn’t do too much to boost ketones so it’s not so important. Capric and caprylic do. Unfortunately, since at most they make up about 30% of the MCTs in coconut oil there isn’t enough available to quickly get your body into nutritional ketosis (burning fat for energy).
MCT Oil, on the other hand, only contains capric and caprylic acid. This means there’s enough of each to help your body burn fat for fuel faster and more efficiently for several hours after a single dose.
2. MCT Oil Is Flavorless And Odorless
Another thing that makes MCT oil better than coconut oil is that it doesn’t have any taste or scent. This makes it perfect for adding to your coffee, tea, smoothies, and protein shakes. Their flavor doesn’t change. You should actually notice that whatever you’re adding it to tastes better.
MCT Oil’s ability to enhance other foods flavor is so powerful that chefs and food scientists use it to make hundreds of other foods tastier. Try it for yourself and see. The foods I like to add it to the most are sushi, coffee, and desserts made from dark chocolate.
Coconut oil, on the other hand tastes and smells like coconuts. Whatever your eat or drink with will taste like coconuts too. You probably don’t want this flavor to overpower your drink or shake – unless you want to it to taste like coconut – so here another instance where MCT oil is the better choice.
When blending MCT oil into a drink, use a blender. It blends it into your drink perfectly for a creamy, rich, frothy drink. If you use a spoon or shaker bottle, you’re likely to be left with an oil slick on top of your coffee.
3. MCT Oil Is Better For Mental Energy
Our brains love using fat for its energy. This is because the ketones made from MCT Oil and our own body fat when we’re in nutritional ketosis easily crosses the typically impenetrable blood-brain barrier where it easily get into our brains.
Ketones from MCT Oil are a more efficient source of energy for our brain too. That is, it takes less work for our brain to energy from them than carbs. They also are better at helping our brain build the chemicals needed help us feel relaxed, focused, and mentally sharp.
So, if you want to get more ketones into your brain and eliminate brain fog and scattered thoughts, MCT oil is a much better choice than coconut.
The reason for this is pretty simple. Since it contains nothing but the fats that enable the greatest increase in ketone production, MCTs will help you feel focused faster than coconut oil which contain a fraction of these fatty acids.
I’ve experienced this difference myself. When I eat coconut oil on an empty stomach I notice a slight but very mild lift in my mood and mental energy (focus, etc.).
When I take MCT oil, I notice a much more pronounced increase in my mood, even when I’m feeling great. My ability to focus is also much improved. This mental boost also happens faster, usually within 15 minutes. This is even faster than the super dark coffee I occasionally drink.
4. MCT Oil Is Better For Controlling Your Cravings
Our hunger and desire for food is controlled by our brain. It sends signals out to tell us to eat. Since there is a big difference between feeling hungry and being hungry, cravings can be a big problem, throwing you off your diet again and again.
Eating fat helps to curb cravings and our appetites. Getting some of these fats from MCT Oil can really put them at bay, for several hours. This is again due to its ability to help put your body into nutritional ketosis. Studies show that taking MCT oil can significantly reduce feelings of hunger.
Since there are more ketosis boosting fats in MCT than coconut oil, it’s the better choice. You get more benefits from every teaspoon. This means you can take less and benefit more.
My wife and I take MCT oil every 4-6 hours when we’re otherwise fasting. It really helps eliminate cravings for for sweets, bread, etc. and gives us lots of energy.
5. MCT Oil Improves Physical Performance Too
While studies show it doesn’t necessarily help performance directly, MCT oil can still help you have a better workout.
What I mean is that if you are following a high fat/low carbohydrate diet and doing intense workouts like Crossfit, MCTs help.
Studies show that we can in fact perform our best during intense workouts when eating low carb. The key to experiencing these benefits is get into nutritional ketosis so you’re using fat instead of sugar for energy.
Since it increases ketones and helps you get into ketosis more easily, MCT oil indirectly enhances your physical performance (i.e. workouts) when you are on a low carb diet. By taking them, you will get into nutritional ketosis faster. The faster you get into ketosis, the fewer workout killing side effects (fatigue, feeling weak, headaches) you’ll experience. The fewer the side effects the better your workouts.
Once your body has adapted to using fat for its fuel MCT oil will still help your workouts. The extra boost of ketones you get from them will keep your brain energized so you can put all of your focus and effort into training. You’re likely to not become fatigued as easily during intense workouts.
What’s The Best MCT Oil Supplement?
When choosing an MCT oil, you need to make sure of a couple of things.
The first is that it should only contain the 2 medium chain triglycerides that will help your body produce the most energy boosting, fat burning ketones. They are named capric and caprylic acid respectively and can be found on the Supplement Facts section of the products label.
Second, the product you buy should be from sustainable raised and sourced raw materials. This ensures that your MCT oil supplement comes from land that is not damaged by its production. By keeping the land unharmed, the people, animals, and environment around it remain preserved and capable of producing high quality ingredients for MCT oil for years to come.
A supplement that meets these criteria is MCT Edge. Since it was so hard to find a great MCT oil supplement that is also sourced in a sustainable manner we made our own. It’s also packaged in an recyclable glass bottle that keeps the oil fresh.
When Coconut Oil Is A Better Choice
While I can’t really say it’s better, I will agree that there are times you may want to choose coconut over MCT Oil.
Coconut Oil Is Better For Cooking
The first is for cooking at higher temperatures. Coconut oil is more heat tolerant which means you can cook with it at higher temperatures before it degrades.
I use coconut oil for cooking myself, even deep frying. The flavor of the food I cooked is awesome and I actually feel a rush of energy after eating, probably from the MCTs it contains.
Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature it may also be a better choice when you want a healthy fat to spread on your food or use to make high fat, no sugar treats like coconut butter cups (link).
2. Coconut Oil Contains Lauric Acid
Another reason to also use coconut oil is that it contains a fat called lauric acid. It’s the most abundant MCT in coconut oil, making up about 50% of its fat content. This fat is one of the four MCTs in coconut oil. Unlike caprylic and capric, it doesn’t create a big increase in blood ketones.
It does however have its own benefits. Most specifically, lauric acid is great at killing bacteria viruses in our body. It is also very good at increasing the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut.
So, if you want a fat that is good for cooking and your gut, you may want to use coconut instead of MCT oil. We keep it on hand for this reason and use it regularly.
What About MCT Oil With Added Lauric Acid?
It’s okay but remember that adding it will decrease the amount of capric and caprylic acid in every serving. This means you will get less of an increase in ketone production and won’t get into nutritional ketosis as quickly.
This is why my wife and I use them separately.
Now you know why MCT oil is better than coconut most of the time. All that’s left to do is try it for yourself to see how powerful this specialized fat is for our brain and body.
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St-Onge MP1, Mayrsohn B2, O’Keeffe M1, Kissileff HR1, Choudhury AR3, Laferrère B4. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;68(10):1134-40.