Since you’re reading this article, I bet you want to know if MCT oil helps focus? More specifically, can it help you concentrate on your work, or any other mentally challenging task with greater clarity for longer periods of time? Also, does it relieve the brain fog you feel when you’re first starting on a low carb diet, fast or in the middle of the day at work?
An inability to concentrate and focus for more than a few minutes and the feeling of brain fog are super common. I know, I’ve felt both many times. MCT oil is often touted as a supplement that helps with both. Thing is, this claim is often unsupported with anything other than anecdotal support.
This article answers these questions once and for all. I first do this by reviewing the latest scientific research. Then, I give you the feedback of people who’ve tried MCT oil themselves specifically for better focus and mental energy. I also discuss how and when to take MCT oil for the best results.
After reading it you’ll know all there is to know regarding what MCTs can do to help you think more clearly and do mentally challenging work harder, longer.
Here’s the too long don’t read summary of this article to highlight its key points.
TL;DR – How MCT Oil Helps Focus
- Studies show MCT helps focus so you learn and remember information better than eating carbohydrates.
- The ketones that are made from MCTs are used by your brain for energy and are what help wipe out brain fog.
- MCTs are great to take when you’re fasting or first eating low carb to get rid of the lethargy and forgetfulness that occur as your body is switching from carbs to fats for its energy. They also help you get into ketosis faster.
- 1 tablespoon of MCT oil is the optimal dose. Work up to it slowly to avoid an upset stomach.
- Combining MCT oil with caffeine increases ketones and improves focus and clarity even more.
How MCT Oil Works To Fuel Your Brain
MCTs – short for medium chain triglycerides – are a type of fat. They’re found in coconuts, butter, and other foods.
When you eat or take MCTs as a supplement they are digested and utilized differently than other fats. Instead of being digested and either stored or used for energy they’re instead shuttled from your small intestine to the liver.
Once they arrive in your liver, the MCT oil you took is used to create ketones. These compounds can then be used for energy by our body. When you’re eating low carb, they’re a preferred source of fuel for your body.
One thing that makes them super cool is that your brain loves to use them for energy. Especially when you’re cutting carbs from your diet.
MCT Oil And Its Effects On Your Brain
Now, let’s get into MCT oil’s effects on the brain. More specifically, whether how it can give you more mental energy, memory, and clarity.
Let’s first discuss the scientific research in this area. I focused on the research on healthy adults since this article is about using MCT oil to help your focus doing mental work, during your workouts, and clearing and avoiding brain fog.
Study One – MCT Oil Helps Focus, Memory, And Your Ability To Organize Information
The best study I found on people with otherwise healthy brain function finds MCT oil does help. When compared to other guys taking a placebo (sugar), MCT oil improved cognitive function.
What does this mean? It means they were able to process information faster and better apply and remember what they learned.
The guys taking MCT oil in this study also performed much better in a test called Digit Scan Forward/Backward.
This test measures how many two digits numbers you can remember and repeat in both the order given as well as the reverse sequence. Basically speaking it’s testing your ability to remember and organize information.
Study 2 – MCT Oil, Ketones And Your Brain’s Health
Being in nutritional ketosis, whether it’s by following a low carb/ketogenic diet, fasting, taking MCT oil or some combination of all of the above also appears to protect our brains overall health. As you know, the healthier your brain, the better you’ll perform at everything in life.
The research as to exactly why being in ketosis and ketones themselves protect our brains is still somewhat unclear. One theory that’s supported by research is having ketones available as fuel for our brain enables cells and organelles that have become damaged to be vacuumed up.
Let’s Check Out A Few Real World Results
Below are results from 3 people who have taken MCT oil to see how it affected their ability to focus.
These results match up with the research referenced above and my own experieces. Whenever I feel like I need a boost with regard to my brain power, I know that if I take a tablespoon, or even as little as a teaspoon that I’ll feel energized within 30 minutes.
Combining it with a shot of espresso further enhances the benefits.
“I considered trying coffee again but it makes me jittery and wired, so that was unappealing. Not being a daily coffee drinker, I never got into the bulletproof coffee craze. It was suggested to me time and again when I asked around what other entrepreneurs were using to keep the pep in their step. So, I decided to try just the MCT part of the recipe blended into my daily tea and
WOW! After finding the right one for me, I noticed a huge difference!
I didn’t experience the negative jitters or an energy crash like coffee, instead my energy boosted, my focus was sustained for the full day and I found myself moving at a pace somewhere between the tortoise and the hare.”
Excerpted from Bokhara’s article published at AnnMariegianni.com.
“A boost of energy and mental focus. When I would fast in the morning prior to incorporating this oil into my diet, I felt fatigued and not so sharp mentally. Now that I drink this with my coffee, the mornings are consistently my most productive time of the day. It’s amazing how focused I feel all the way up to 12 or 1. The bonus is that I’m rarely thinking or craving food, wondering, “when is it time to eat”?”
Read Whitney’s entire article at Steadfastlifecoaching.com.
“I added about half a tablespoon of oil to my morning coffee and noticed right away that I was more awake and alert than I usually am after coffee alone. I practice intermittent fasting and usually eat my first meal around 1pm but the oil kept me feeling full well into the afternoon.”
You can read Kaitlyn’s entire article at Theladders.com.
What The Experts Have To Say
Here’s what nutritionists have to say about MCT oil with regard to focus and clarity. Again, they support the latest research and experiences of the ladies above.
Clinical Nutritionist Sharon Brown
Here’s what Sharon had to say in an article on eatthis.com.
“Ketone bodies are three water-soluble molecules that can be an efficient source of fuel for the body and brain. This is why many people claim that they can think more clearly and have more energy when they are on the keto diet and consuming MCT oils.”
Nutritionist Katherine Lane, CN
Katherine writes about the benefits of MCTs for our brains on her Instagram account.
“MCT oil is a staple in my coffee and has been for nearly two years. Our body is efficient at using MCTs for energy production, which keeps our brain clear and focused. Just like anything else we consume, quality is key.’
Frequently Asked Questions – Taking MCT Oil For Better Focus
How Much MCT Oil Do You Need To Take To Improve Focus And Clear Brain Fog?
Research and the experience of myself and others finds that taking 1 tablespoon of MCT oil is enough to get you into nutritional ketosis and give you more mental clarity, focus, and energy.
Since this amount only has 100 calories that are immediately used for energy it shouldn’t throw off your diet if weight loss is also one of your goals.
If you are just starting to take MCT oil you should start with a smaller amount. Taking 1 tablespoon at a time may give you an upset stomach, cramps, and even diarrhea.
The best way to avoid this problem is to start off with a ½ to 1 teaspoon at a time. You’ll still get an increase in ketones and their brain boosting benefits, without any negative side effects. Increase your dosage over 1-2 weeks, adding a ¼ tablespoon at a time.
Taking MCT oil with food can also help you avoid an upset stomach.
When Should You Take MCT Oil?
One of the best times to take it is first thing in the morning, with your breakfast or if you fast by itself. Just remember to start off with smaller doses (½ – 1 teaspoon).
This will help kickstart your brain, help your focus, and give you energy that lasts all through the morning. I do this every morning and man does it work. Between this and a morning workout, I feel awesome and get more done by noon than I usually would all day. You’ll have to try it to see for yourself but I can almost guarantee you’ll feel the same.
If you feel your energy waning later in the afternoon, try taking another serving. MCT helps focus at these times for sure. Don’t overdo it though, there’s typically no need to take more than 2 tablespoons total in a day. Unless your doctor recommends it for your specific needs.
MCTs helps focus when you’re just getting started with a low carb diet and are suffering from the keto flu. One of the most common side effects during this period – usually the first few weeks eating this way – is lethargic and unable to focus. A serving of MCTs will give you several hours of relief.
I also like to take MCTs before I work out for their ability to enhance my focus and mental clarity. A tablespoon’s worth and a shot of espresso gives me a huge boost of mental clarity, enabling me to focus on every set and rep. As a result, I’m able to push harder and make progress even faster.
My favorite oil to use is MCT Edge. It’s made from sustainably sourced coconuts which means the farms on which their grown does not damage the environment, is 100% pure, and made in GMP certified lab which means that all you get is what’s on the label. In this case that means nothing but the best MCT oil you’ll find anywhere.
Conclusion – MCT Helps Mental Focus
My goal with this article was to give you what science, health experts, and people like me and you have to say about MCT oil and how it can help you feel more focused, clear-minded, and perform better, at work and in the gym. Let me know what you think after you give it a try for yourself.
Ashton JS, Roberts JW, Wakefield CJ, Page RM, MacLaren DPM, Marwood S, Malone JJ. The effects of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) supplementation using a C8:C10 ratio of 30:70 on cognitive performance in healthy young adults. Physiol Behav. 2021 Feb 1;229:113252.
McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH. Ketosis may promote brain macroautophagy by activating Sirt1 and hypoxia-inducible factor-1. Med Hypotheses. 2015 Nov;85(5):631-9.
Rebello CJ, Keller JN, Liu AG, Johnson WD, Greenway FL. Pilot feasibility and safety study examining the effect of medium chain triglyceride supplementation in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. BBA Clin. 2015 Jan 16;3:123-5.