Coconut Oil Or MCT Oil?

Raw vs extracted

The difference between pure MCT oil and coconut oil is that MCT oils are made in an industrial facility by separating medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils from long-chain triglyceride oils using a process called fractionation. These highly concentrated MCT oils are then placed in a container to be sold. Coconut oil, however, is simply extracted from the white fleshy part of a coconut. It contains all the MCT oils that are present in the refined products, as well as a few long-chain triglycerides and other nutrients. The distinction is made between them because some people believe that MCT oils should be used in place of coconut oils especially in a ketogenic diet.

The purpose of these oils in a ketogenic diet

The main purpose of consuming MCT oils or coconut oils is to facilitate the body entering a state of ketosis. This is when the body use as fat as the main source of energy instead of carbohydrates. It is called ketosis because the breakdown of fatty acids like those in MCT oils releases compounds called ketones. Ketones are an alternative energy source for the brain and reprogramming the body to metabolize fat for energy helps to break down stored fat and lose weight. One of the arguments for the preference of MCT oils is that it does not contain long-chain triglycerides which take longer to absorb. This means that in theory, it gets absorbed quicker and produces ketones more quickly than coconut oil.

Why coconut oil is better than MCT oil

There are basically 4 MCT oils that are present in coconut. They are capric acid, caprylic acid, caproic acid and lauric acid. During the fractionation process, the lauric acid is lost, so artificial MCT oils contain only three of the important MCTs. Other important acids that are lost in the process are stearic acid, linoleic acid, and oleic acid. Artificial MCT oils are also missing the high doses of vitamin A, vitamin K and iron that are present in coconut oil. So basically MCT oils are placed through an extra processing step which can raise their cost but it loses them some of the benefits of coconut oil. This is not to say that MCT oils are bad, but it’s preferable to consume coconut oil.

Lauric acid – why it’s important

Lauric acid is the most abundant MCT in coconut oil. It makes up almost 50%. Lauric acid can be used much more easily by the body to generate ketones. It is, therefore, the fastest source for generating fat-based energy in a ketogenic diet. It also busts the myth that artificial MCT oils cause ketosis quicker than coconut oil. Medium chain triglycerides and long-chain triglycerides get absorbed by two different mechanisms in the body. MCTs are absorbed into the bloodstream while long-chain triglycerides are absorbed through the lymphatic system. So the MCTs in coconut oil are absorbed as fast as those in the artificial version. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is metabolized much quicker so it actually wins the race in generating ketones.