You’re on a keto or low carb diet, which is better for getting into ketosis, mct or coconut oil? This is a question we get a lot. Since you’re reading this article you must want to know as well.
I get it, it can be confusing to decide which is best for getting your body into ketosis. Unless you’re immersed in researching all things keto and low carbohydrate on a regular basis there’s no easy way to know.
Since MCT oil is made from coconut oil it’s easy to see how you may think they’re interchangeable. While both contain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), their similarities end there. Especially when it comes to getting your body into nutritional ketosis.
I wrote this article to put this question to rest so that you’d know definitively which is the best product for getting into ketosis as quickly and painlessly as possible. The first place I looked to find the answer is Pubmed where I found interesting research on the topic.
After an hour or so of reading a few papers, I came across an interesting paper that was published last year. In it scientists tested coconut vs MCT on a group of healthy men and women to see which is better for increasing ketone production and as a result better for getting your body into nutritional ketosis.
Why Does This Matter?
Getting into nutritional ketosis as quickly and pain-free as possible is helpful in many ways. First of all, it helps your body burn fats for fuel, making weight loss happen faster and more easily.
Being in nutritional ketosis also helps you avoid the ‘keto flu’ which normally occurs during the transition period where your body is making the switch from using carbs to fat as fuel.
You’ll also have better energy, mental clarity, and stay full longer when you’re eating keto and in nutritional ketosis.
So, as you can see, using the right product to get yourself into ketosis can make a big difference in how quickly you reach your goals and how you feel and perform at work and in the gym, every day.
So What Did The Research Find?
Lots of cool stuff. The first is that MCT is far superior to coconut oil at increasing the amount of ketones in your bloodstream. Way better. Coconut barely moves the needle in terms of producing ketones. MCT oil, on the other hand, produces enough to get you into ketosis within 45 minutes or less.
Even after eating sugar with their MCTs, the participants in this study still produced more ketones than they did when taking coconut oil alone.
How Does This Help Me?
What this means for you is that you’re going to quickly get the benefits of being in ketosis, which is what you’re looking for including:
- Better mental focus
- Lose excess body fat faster
- More energy and endurance
- Stay full longer. Even when you’re fasting
All of the men and ladies in this study fasted for 12 hours prior to taking any of the fats in the study.
Interestingly enough, coconut oil didn’t even increase ketones more than sunflower oil, which contains 0 grams of ketone boosting fats.
It seems that even though coconut oil has some medium chain triglycerides, the fats that help you get into ketosis, there aren’t enough.
Other Findings From This Study
- Taking MCT & coconut oil doesn’t get you deeper into ketosis than MCTs only.
- When you eat sugar and take MCT oil, you avoid the typically large spike in blood sugar that can cause energy crashes and lead to more of the food you eat being stored as fat.
- Taking MCT oil with glucose lowers blood glucose more than other fats, keeps it low over a 4 hour test window.
- Coconut oil is actually no better than sunflower oil – which has no ketone boosting MCTs – at getting you into ketosis.
- Fasting for 12 or more hours and a cup of coffee worth of caffeine will help you get into nutritional ketosis. Adding MCTs gets you into ketosis faster.
As you can see from the bullet points, taking MCT oil has benefits in addition to increasing blood ketones.
I especially like how it helps to lower and keep your blood sugar levels stable, even after eating or in this case, drinking something that’s high in sugar.
This is an especially great benefit of MCT oil. I use it myself whenever I may eat more carbs than I should. Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often but I’m human too and it does.
What I do is take a tablespoon of MCT oil either with my higher carb meal or immediately after.
I notice that my blood sugar level doesn’t spike at all. Like in this study it goes down.
This helps to prevent the brain fog and crash in energy levels I would normally feel after having too many carbs from bread, rice, etc. with a meal. Give it a try for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
Plus, taking your MCT with a meal really reduces getting an upset stomach. This can happen sometimes, especially if you haven’t taken it before
Why Is MCT Oil Better At Getting Us Into Ketosis?
The big difference between coconut and MCT oil is that coconut oil contains far fewer of the 2 fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) than pure MCT oil.
While there are 4 types of MCTs, only 2 of them are useful for increasing ketone levels in your blood. They’re called capric and caprylic acid.
Coconut oil, on average, has 7% caprylic and 5% capric acids per serving. This isn’t enough to get you into ketosis. It also has a 3rd MCT called lauric acid in a much greater amount (42%). Unfortunately, it doesn’t help you with regard to getting into ketosis.
MCT oil on the other hand consists of about 60% caprylic and 40% capric acids.
Both of these MCTs increase ketone levels enough to put you into nutritional ketosis. Especially capric acid, the type used in this study.
So Coconut Oil Is A No Go For Ketosis?
From these results this seems to be the case. This doesn’t mean you should throw your coconut oil away. It’s still great to use for cooking, using as a moisturizer, and is great for giving tropical themed meals a coconut flavor.
Just don’t bother with it if your goal is to get yourself into nutritional ketosis for better mental energy, weight loss, or to help better control your hunger.
Stick to pure MCT oil instead for the best results.
How Much MCT Oil Should I Take?
If your goal is to get the benefits of increased ketone levels (mental clarity, endurance, appetite suppression) 1 tablespoon will do the trick.
Since it can cause an upset stomach, it’s not recommended that you begin with this amount.
Instead, start with 1 teaspoon a day and work up to a tablespoon over 7-10 days. Don’t worry you’ll still increase blood ketones enough to see more benefits than you will from coconut oil.
If you want to learn more about how much MCT oil you should take for different needs and goals, you’ll find this article helpful.
Which MCT Oil Is The Best?
Whichever brand you choose, make sure it does not contain capric and caprylic acids, the 2 fats that actually help you get into ketosis.
You also want to make sure that MCT oil that you choose is made in a GMP certified laboratory and is made from sustainably sourced ingredients. This guarantees that the product you’re taking actually contains what’s on the label and doesn’t contain any potentially harmful impurities.
One product that meets these criteria is MCT Edge. It’s also the one my wife and I have used every day for years with great success.
Now you know why MCT oil is a better choice over coconut oil for getting into nutritional ketosis. Let us know your experiences after you give it a try on yourself.
Norgren, Jakob et al. “Ketosis After Intake of Coconut Oil and Caprylic Acid-With and Without Glucose: A Cross-Over Study in Healthy Older Adults.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 7 40. 15 Apr. 2020