With the popularity of low carbohydrate diets like the keto diet and Atkins diet on the rise, more people are exploring the benefits of a low carbohydrate and high fat diet.
Although a high fat intake is a major component of most low carb diet plans, not all fats are created equally. While some fats, including saturated fats and trans fats, contribute to heart disease and can add unwanted pounds to your frame, others, like monounsaturated fats and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), can serve as a healthy source of fuel for your body and offer a variety of other health benefits.
MCTs are commonly consumed in the form of MCT oil and MCT powder, but when it comes to MCT oil vs MCT powder, what makes them different?
What is MCT oil?
MCT oil is oil made from medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil, palm oil, or dairy products. Although there are four different types of MCTs, caprylic acid and capric acid are the MCTs most commonly found in MCT oil.
MCTs are naturally present in small amounts in foods like milk fat, palm oil, and coconut oil, but MCT oil is a synthetic product derived from one or more of these sources that provides MCTs in a specific ratio. MCT oil has a low smoke point, so it is not suitable for cooking at temperatures over 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
What is MCT powder?
MCT powder is derived from MCT oil and has only arrived on the market in recent years. MCT powders generally consist of about 50 to 80 percent MCT oil, and the remainder of the ingredients consist of milk proteins and carbohydrates.
It should be noted that MCT powders sometimes contain cheap fillers and sweeteners designed to keep costs low, so you should only purchase MCT powder from a company you trust. The powder is created by using a process called spray drying to convert liquid MCTs to a solid, powdered form.
What are the differences between MCT oil and MCT powder?
With the popularity of dietary supplements like MCT oil and MCT powder on the rise, it’s important to understand the differences between the two products before deciding which one is right for you and your health goals.
MCT powder is widely considered to be the more convenient of the two options when comparing MCT oil and MCT powder. MCT powder is lightweight and can be found in single-serve packets that make it a convenient option when traveling or on the go. Powders can be mixed into virtually anything without a noticeable taste, including being added to a smoothie or protein shake, poured into your morning coffee, or sprinkled onto a salad.
Digestive side effects
Like many oils, MCT oil has been found to cause digestive side effects in some people, including things like diarrhea, nausea, and upset stomach. As a result, people who choose to take MCT oil often need to work up to using a full serving (one tablespoon) of the oil and allow their bodies time to adjust. For these people, it is recommended to start with consuming a teaspoon of MCT oil at a time and gradually work up to consuming a full tablespoon. People who struggle with digestive issues may find that they have fewer problems when using MCT powder; however, it is still best to slowly work up to a full serving over the course of several days. The goal when using any type of MCT supplement is to make sure your body absorbs as much as possible in order to increase ketone production, so choose whichever causes the least digestive distress for you.
When it comes to texture, the differences between MCT oil and MCT powder affect how the products are used. MCT oil has an oily texture and is delicious when used as a salad dressing, drizzled onto vegetables, mixed into soups or broths, or blended into smoothies, coffee, or tea. By contrast, MCT powder has more of a creamy texture when added to liquids, so it is best suited to beverages like coffee or tea. It can also be sprinkled on top of different meals like salads and can easily be added into baked goods.
There are a few other differences between MCT oil and MCT powder. MCT oil generally tends to be made of high quality ingredients because it is more difficult to mix inexpensive ingredients into oil than powder. Some MCT powders contain hidden fillers and sweeteners that reduce costs and effectiveness, so make sure you do your research on the purity of the MCT powder you purchase if you decide to go that route -- Orgain works hard to deliver clean nutrients, which is why our Keto Protein Powder that contains MCT oil, does not include fillers. Additionally, the majority of research done on MCTs has been done on MCT oil rather than MCT powder, so some lingering questions remain about the differences between the two supplements.
What are the health benefits of MCTs?
As noted previously, MCTs are associated with a number of different health benefits. Regardless of whether you choose to consume MCT oil or MCT powder, you’ll receive the same benefits.
Supports Weight Loss When Combined with Healthy Diet and Exercise
Although the 1990s low-fat diet craze falsely had many people believing that eating fat translated to gaining body fat, the opposite has been proven to be true. MCTs have been found to support weight loss when combined with healthy diet and exercise. If you think that eating fats can’t promote weight loss, think again. Studies show that consuming MCTs can help reduce your overall intake of calories throughout the day, can reduce body weight, and might even help shrink your waist circumference.
Reduces Lactate Buildup
If you’re an athlete or workout regularly, you know the all too familiar feeling of your muscles burning as lactate builds up. Using MCTs has been found to lower levels of lactate in the body, which can make your workout feel less taxing and can improve your recovery time. Using MCTs before a workout also encourages your body to burn fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates, which leads to lower carbohydrate intake overall.
Promotes Feelings of Energy
Although our bodies are trained to use carbohydrates for energy first, we are also capable of using fat as a source of energy during our workouts and day to day activities. Because MCTs have a shorter chain length than other fatty acids, they enter the cells quickly and provide an immediate source of energy, unlike longer chain fatty acids. As a result, people who follow the keto diet or other low carb diets often rely on MCTs as a quick source of energy for the body and brain.
Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
MCTs have been shown to help decrease insulin resistance, lower body weight, and reduce waist circumference, all of which help manage blood sugar or blood glucose levels. Another study found that people who consumed MCTs needed 30 percent less sugar to maintain normal blood sugar levels when injecting insulin.
Whether you choose to consume MCT oil or MCT powder, your body will receive many health benefits as a result of ingesting these healthy fats.
The main differences between MCT oil and MCT powder include the texture, convenience, and digestive effects of the two products. Orgain’s Organic MCT oil offers a high quality, organic, plant-based, keto and paleo-friendly option that can easily be incorporated into many different recipes.