Medium Chain Triglycerides: How MCT Fuels Brain Energy and Supports Ketosis

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Along with providing information on whether MCT supplements might be right for you, this article also links to Fullscript where you can buy Medium Chain Triglyceride oil through the secure healthcare formulary and get free shipping and 20% off the retail price of professional-grade supplements.

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are quickly metabolized by the body, providing a rapid source of energy and aiding in the maintenance of healthy weight by promoting satiety and increasing metabolic rate. They also support cognitive functions by supplying energy to the brain and helping stabilize blood sugar levels. For those on ketogenic diets, MCTs are especially beneficial as they help maintain ketosis. Additionally, their antimicrobial properties can strengthen the immune system. Learn how MCT oil might improve

What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides?

Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs, are a distinct form of fat that differs significantly from the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) found in most dietary fats. These fats are unique because they are metabolized differently by the body, providing a quick source of energy. MCTs are predominantly found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products, making them easily accessible in many diets.

What sets MCTs apart is their shorter chemical structure, which allows them to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the gut and transported to the liver. In the liver, they are quickly converted into ketones, compounds that the brain and other tissues can use as an energy source when glucose (the body’s main source of energy) is scarce. This feature makes MCTs particularly popular among those following ketogenic diets, which aim to induce a state of ketosis where the body efficiently burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

The benefits of MCTs extend beyond energy production. They are also known to support weight management. By promoting a feeling of fullness and increasing the body’s metabolic rate, MCTs can help regulate body weight. This satiating effect can lead to reduced calorie intake, which is beneficial for those looking to manage or lose weight.

Furthermore, MCTs have therapeutic applications in clinical settings, particularly for persons dealing with fat malabsorption issues. For example, people with certain digestive disorders that impair fat absorption can benefit from MCT supplements because they are easier to digest and utilize than LCTs.

MCT supplements are versatile and can be integrated into the diet in various forms, such as oils, which can be added to coffee or smoothies; capsules, for those seeking convenience; and powders, which can be incorporated into baked goods or shakes. This flexibility makes it easier for people to use MCTs in a way that fits their lifestyle and nutritional needs, enhancing their overall health.

What Are the Benefits of Medium Chain Triglycerides?

  • Quick Source of Energy: MCTs are rapidly absorbed and metabolized, providing an immediate energy boost, especially useful for athletes and those needing a quick burst of energy. PMID: 35761969
  • Improves Brain Function: MCTs are believed to provide cognitive benefits by offering ketones as an alternative energy source for the brain, which may support better focus and mental clarity. This study found that young, healthy adults experienced improved memory and processing speed tasks after 2-3 weeks of taking medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) at doses of 12 grams or 18 grams per day, with no significant difference between the two doses. PMID: 33220329
    • Neuroprotection: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are used as ketogenic supplements to promote ketosis and offer neuroprotective benefits, potentially improving cognitive function in both healthy individuals and those with cognitive impairments, while also having direct effects on the brain and being part of complex metabolic interactions. PMC9334743 By converting into ketones, MCTs provide a brain-friendly energy source when carbohydrates are limited.
  • May Improve Liver Health: MCTs can help reduce fat accumulation in the liver, and possibly offer benefits for those with fatty liver disease when used as part of a healthy diet. Recent studies show that while obesity often leads to metabolic disorders, a portion of obese individuals remain metabolically healthy, possibly due to a healthier gut microbiota. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) could potentially enhance metabolic health in obese individuals by improving gut ecosystem and permeability, suggesting that MCT-enriched diets might be effective in managing metabolic diseases. [PMC4882694]
  • Promotes Weight Management: MCTs can increase feelings of fullness and enhance the metabolic rate, which can help in maintaining a healthy weight or losing excess weight. Adding medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to a very low-calorie ketogenic diet (VLCKD) significantly enhanced weight loss and reduced inflammation in overweight or obese women, with early supplementation showing the most benefits by potentially boosting ketosis. PMC9843941 A review discusses how certain types of fats may help increase feelings of fullness, which could potentially help with managing overall calorie intake and combating obesity. Among the fats examined, Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) show the most promise for enhancing satiety. PMID: 29359954
  • Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels: MCTs can help stabilize blood sugar levels by providing energy without a surge in glucose, beneficial for people with diabetes or those managing insulin sensitivity. A study on obese rats found that treatment with three different medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—caprylic, capric, and lauric triglycerides—improved glucose metabolism and reduced insulin resistance, with capric triglyceride showing the most significant effects. These improvements were linked to specific cellular pathways that enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. PMC10815142
  • Improved Cholesterol: Some studies suggest that MCTs can help improve cholesterol levels by increasing the production of HDL (good) cholesterol, which could reduce the risk of heart disease. PMC4975867
  • Antimicrobial Properties: MCTs, particularly caprylic and lauric acids, can help strengthen the immune system by combating harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Increases Exercise Performance: MCTs provide a rapid source of energy that can be used during endurance training or high-intensity workouts, and may enhance athletic performance. This study reveals that Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) in the diet can boost exercise performance by improving the function and increasing the number of mitochondria—the energy powerhouses of cells. This benefit is driven by activating specific cellular pathways that enhance energy metabolism. [PMC5805166]
  • Improves Mood: The quick energy source from MCTs may also impact mood positively by preventing a drop in energy levels, which can affect mental health. This study found that supplementing with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can increase ketone levels and reduce some negative symptoms associated with starting a ketogenic diet, such as fatigue and irritability. PMC5987302

Food Sources of Medium Chain Triglycerides

Food SourceServing SizeApproximate MCT Content
Coconut oil1 tablespoon7 grams
Palm kernel oil1 tablespoon6.5 grams
Dairy butter1 tablespoon1 gram
Whole milk1 cup0.2 grams
Yogurt1 cup0.1 grams
Cheese1 ounce0.2 grams
This table provides a quick reference to understand the concentration of MCTs in various common food items, helping people incorporate these fats into their diets more effectively.

Is Medium Chain Triglycerides Safe?

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are safe for consumption by most people. They are naturally occurring fats found in commonly consumed foods such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and dairy products. The body processes MCTs more efficiently than long-chain triglycerides, converting them quickly into energy and minimizing the risk of fat storage. This rapid metabolism also means that MCTs are less likely to cause gastrointestinal distress, which can be a concern with other types of fats. Various health organizations acknowledge the safety of moderate MCT consumption as part of a balanced diet. Additionally, MCT supplements have been used safely in clinical settings, including for persons with certain medical conditions that affect normal fat digestion and absorption, further attesting to their safety and benefits when used appropriately.

Medication Interactions with Medium Chain Triglycerides

  • Diabetes Medications: MCTs may affect blood sugar levels, possibly altering the effects of insulin and other diabetes medications. Close monitoring of blood sugar levels might be required to adjust medication doses accordingly.
  • Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners): MCTs might influence blood clotting. When used with anticoagulants like warfarin, there could be an impact on the medication’s effectiveness, necessitating more frequent monitoring of blood coagulation levels.

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MCT Oil by Jarrow Formulas

Fast Fuel for Brain and Muscles*
Supports Ketogenic Diet*

  • Quick Energy for the Brain* 
  • Fast Metabolic Fuel for Muscles* 
  • Support for a Low-Carb, Ketogenic Diet* 
  • All-Natural 
  • Odorless 
  • 100% Pure

Jarrow Formulas® MCT Oil is a natural source of caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) fatty acids with a minimal amount of lauric acid compared to other conventional MCT oil products and standard coconut oil. Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is rapidly absorbed, which provides fast fuel to the body.*

Jarrow Formulas® MCT Oil provides:

  • Quick Energy for the Brain* 
  • Fast Metabolic Fuel for Muscles* 
  • Support for a Low-Carb, Ketogenic Diet* 


Important Features of Jarrow Formulas® MCT Oil:

  • All-Natural 
  • Odorless 
  • 100% Pure

Take 1 tablespoon per day, on an empty stomach, or as directed by your qualified healthcare professional. Use in cooking, baking, on salads or in smoothies. Not recommended for frying.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon (15ml)

Amount Per Serving
Calories … 130
Calories from Fat … 130
Total Fat … 14g
Saturated Fat … 13g
Trans Fat … 0g
Coconut Oil … 14g
Medium Chain Triglycerides … 14g
Caprylic Acid … 8.4g
Capric Acid … 5.6g

Contains: Tree nuts (coconut).

No wheat, no gluten, no soybeans, no dairy, no egg, no fish/shellfish, no peanuts.

Suitable for vegetarians/vegans.

MCT Oil by Protocol for Life Balance

MCTs (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) are fats that are metabolized differently than most dietary fats.* Unlike longer chain triglycerides, MCTs require little or no enzymatic breakdown and are easily absorbed across the wall of the small intestine and delivered straight to the liver where they can be used directly for energy production (instead of being stored as fat).* In essence, they act similar to carbohydrates, but without the requirement of insulin and with no affect on blood sugar.* Studies have demonstrated that MCT Oil consumption along with a healthy diet can help to maintain a healthy body weight, while sparing lean tissue.*

Suggested Use:
Take 1 tablespoon 1 to 3 times daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

Serving Size: One Tablespoon (15ml)(14g MCT Oil)

Amount Per Serving
Calories … 100
Calories from Fat … 100
Total Fat … 14g
Saturated Fat … 14g

Other Ingredients: MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) Oil.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) offer several health benefits that can enhance overall health. These fats are quickly metabolized by the body, providing a rapid source of energy and aiding in the maintenance of healthy weight by promoting satiety and increasing metabolic rate. They also support cognitive functions by supplying energy to the brain and helping stabilize blood sugar levels. For those on ketogenic diets, MCTs are especially beneficial as they help maintain ketosis. Additionally, their antimicrobial properties can strengthen the immune system. By incorporating MCTs into your diet through natural sources or supplements, you can enjoy these diverse benefits as part of a balanced approach to health.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


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