If you are looking for ways to amp up your fast then you might be interested in knowing how to use MCT oil while intermittent fasting.
The intermittent fasting lifestyle, which limits your eating to a small window each day, is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to help you lose weight. If you’re curious to know how it works, this article will discuss everything about MCT oil and why you should consider pairing it with intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a diet but rather a way of eating. It’s a method of planning your meals to make the most out of them. Intermittent fasting does not alter what you eat; rather, it alters when you eat.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
By reducing insulin levels, intermittent fasting may promote weight loss. During a fast, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which cells utilize for energy or convert to fat and store for later use.
Insulin is a hormone that helps cells absorb glucose. Insulin levels fall when you don’t eat. It is during a prolonged fast where decreased insulin levels leads cells to release their glucose stores to use for energy. Weight loss may result from repeating an IF practice regularly.
Moreover, since you consume fewer calories overall, this can also contribute to weight loss.
Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Being overweight or obese is one of the biggest risk factors for acquiring type 2 diabetes which is associated with insulin resistance.
Intermittent fasting leading to weight loss can aid improvements in insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is the main driver of fat storage. When you eat, you are triggering insulin production. Constantly eating means your body keeps producing insulin. If you have too much insulin, your cells start to resist the insulin and, in response, your body has to make more.
It is understandable that lowering your insulin levels dramatically improves diabetes. By fasting for at least 16 hours gives your body a chance to rest and allows the blood levels of insulin to drop significantly.
Improved Heart Health
Researchers have also shown IF to enhance aspects of cardiovascular health. According to a 2016 review1, IF can lower blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and triglycerides in humans and animals. Triglycerides are a form of fat found in the blood that has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Improved Brain Health
Intermittent fasting has been found in animal studies to promote brain health. According to research2, mice on a brief IF diet showed higher learning and memory than mice with free access to food.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
There are some indications that intermittent fasting may lessen the risk of cancer. Considering obesity is a risk factor for many cancers, some studies suggest that the weight loss part of IF may be responsible for lowering the risk of cancer1.
Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin levels and inflammation, which are two biological elements linked to cancer. However, further human study is required to back up this assertion.
What Is MCT Oil?
MCT is an abbreviation for medium-chain triglyceride, a material composed of medium-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are naturally found in coconut oil, palm oil, goat, and breast milk. MCT oil is a popular nutritional supplement among athletes and others who are physically active.
It may be simpler to understand if its name is divided into two parts:
Triglyceride – This is a form of fat found in the bloodstream. It is derived from wasted calories and can supply energy to your body.
Medium-chain – Triglycerides are made up of fat chains. A triglyceride with a medium chain has a short length.
MCTs are more easily absorbed than longer-chain fatty acids because your body takes less effort to break down carbon bonds. Because MCTs are smaller, they may pass through your cell membranes more quickly and do not require the employment of special enzymes to be utilized by your systems.
MCTs contribute to over 60% of the chemical composition of coconut oil. There are 4 main medium-chain fatty acids. Lauric acid has the largest concentration, while the other three are also in various amounts.
These are the 4 main medium-chain fatty acids:
- Caproic acid (C6)
- Caprylic acid (C8)
- Capric acid (C10)
- Lauric acid (C12)
Caproic Acid (C6)
At room temperature, it is an oily liquid that increases the generation of blood ketones. It can be found in animal fats and a variety of plants. It has a foul odor and is just marginally soluble in water3.
Caprylic Acid (C8)
It has been demonstrated to increase energy, boost ketone synthesis, and aid in weight loss. It also has anticancer and antibacterial properties4.
Capric Acid (C10)
Possesses many of the same features as caprylic acid (C8) (e.g. it raises ketones, is antibacterial, and can help reduce body fat) but takes a little longer for the body to metabolize into ketones5.
Lauric Acid (C12)
Is a significant component of coconut oil. Lauric acid, like C8 and C10, has antibacterial effects. However, because it is a larger molecule (more carbon atoms bound together), it takes even longer to break down and is thus unsuitable for ketone synthesis.
How Does MCT Oil Affect the Body?
MCTs are transformed into ketones in the liver and either used immediately for energy or stored for later use. When MCTs are converted into ketones, they can be transferred throughout the body to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
Ketones are produced when your body turns fat into energy, known as ketosis. This procedure increases your body’s ability to burn fat, making it popular for dieting and weight loss.
LCTs (Long Chain Triacylglycerol), on the other hand, require bile and pancreatic secretions to be absorbed during digestion. Furthermore, excess LCTs are stored as fat in the body, whereas excess MCTs are metabolized and stored as ketones.
MCTs are simple to digest since their particles are smaller than those found in many commonly consumed fats. They pass immediately to your liver and are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. They also convert into easily accessible kinds of energy.
This is in contrast to the behavior of long-chain triglycerides, which are found in fats such as olive oil and avocado. These have lengthy chains and are challenging to digest.
Benefits of MCT Oil
MCT oil promoters describe it as a superfood with numerous health benefits. For the most part, it’s because MCTs enter your liver fast and do not require bile to break down. Hence why it is easily absorbed and quickly converted into usable energy.
MCTs can also provide benefits for:
Daily MCT oil may help improve insulin sensitivity and promote modest weight loss in people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, those who were supplemented with MCT lost weight and had a lower waist circumference and insulin resistance than those who consumed maize oil containing LCTs6.
MCTs are converted into ketones, which the brain can use as an alternate fuel source (glucose is the brain’s primary energy source). This has piqued the curiosity of certain researchers regarding the potential significance of MCTs in the treatment of certain brain illnesses. According to some studies, MCTs may even improve learning, memory, and brain function in persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease7.
MCTs have been found in human studies8 to improve cholesterol. In one research of 24 overweight males, combining MCT oil, flaxseed oil, and phytosterols lowered total cholesterol levels by 12.5%. When participants were given a blend that substituted MCT oil for olive oil, their total cholesterol was reduced by only 4.7%.
MCTs have been shown to increase fat burning during exercises rather than relying on carbs for energy, which can improve athletic performance. MCTs minimize lactate accumulation, which would otherwise limit stamina and performance during exercise9.
Improves Gut Health
MCTs function in the gut as probiotics, improving digestion and absorption, increasing good bacteria, and inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause diarrhea. This then enhances your gut’s general health10.
How To Use MCT Oil While Intermittent Fasting?
If you follow the standard 16:8 IF practice and your fasting period are between 8 PM and 12 PM the following day, one of the simplest ways to incorporate MCT oil into your IF routine is to take your capsules with your morning coffee or other with a non-caloric drink such as water when you wake up.
For most people, this is the most beneficial time to utilize MCT oil because it provides an extra boost to finish the remaining few hours of their fast until they break it.
It is essential to remember that everyone is unique and has various IF experiences. Having said that, while most people find that using MCT oil in the morning is the most beneficial, the most convenient time to take MCT oil in your fast is when you feel like you need an extra boost to get through those last hours of fasting.
MCTs break down faster than longer-chained triglycerides. As an example, many MCTs enter your portal vein (which serves the gastrointestinal tract) and travel directly to your liver (in the blood).
On the other hand, long-chain fatty acids must be taken up by chylomicron triglycerides and transported to the bloodstream via the lymph system. Once in the liver, fatty acids are converted into ketones before being released back into the bloodstream, where they are transported for use by other cells, particularly your brain.
Does MCT Oil Break A Fast?
Any xenobiotic will technically break your fast. Technically, even a small dose of MCT will break your fast. Especially if you practice a more rigid kind of intermittent fasting.
However, because MCT oil does not increase insulin synthesis, it should not affect your body’s fat-burning capacity. While further research is needed to determine the benefits of consuming MCT oil during an intermittent fast, there is no doubt that they can be taken concurrently.
In addition, whether or not MCT oil breaks a fast is a matter of your personal preference. There are some who argue that MCT oil does not technically break a fast, since it does not prompt insulin production.
Others believe that consuming calories during a fast will disrupt the process. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine what works best for you.
How Much MCT Oil Can You Use While Fasting?
A tiny amount of MCT oil will not significantly interfere with your intermittent fast. The key to utilizing MCT oil during a fast is to keep the dose to a minimum.
Limiting the dosage ensures that your blood sugar levels do not increase and that your total caloric intake is unaffected.
A standard serving size for MCT oil supplements when not fasting is 4-7 capsules per day. However, if you wish to take MCT throughout your fast, you should refrain from consuming the standard serving.
Drinking MCT oil is favorable in helping you fast for extended periods. You can take a 1-2 capsule serving during your fast and the rest after it.
It is critical to remember that to receive the best effects from your fast, you must avoid high-calorie, high-sugar foods and beverages, which may break your fast.
Using MCT oil is an excellent supplement to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting. One of its potential effects compliments IF’s goals which is weight loss. With the added advantage of bringing other health benefits.
However, it is crucial to note that for some, adding MCT oil, especially during a fast, might not be the right fit. As with everything, the appropriate dosage is essential.
If you do want to try MCT oil with your diet, inform your healthcare provider to figure out whether it benefits your overall diet and personal health situation.
1 Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing Res Rev. 2017 Oct;39:46-58. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 31. PMID: 27810402; PMCID: PMC5411330.
2 Vasconcelos, A. R., Kinoshita, P. F., Yshii, L. M., Marques Orellana, A. M., Böhmer, A. E., de Sá Lima, L., Alves, R., Andreotti, D. Z., Marcourakis, T., Scavone, C., & Kawamoto, E. M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on age-related changes on Na,K-ATPase activity and oxidative status induced by lipopolysaccharide in rat hippocampus. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(5), 1914-1923. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.02.020
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5 Camille Vandenberghe, Valérie St-Pierre, Tyler Pierotti, Mélanie Fortier, Christian-Alexandre Castellano, Stephen C Cunnane, Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 1, Issue 4, April 2017, e000257, https://doi.org/10.3945/cdn.116.000257
6 Han JR, Deng B, Sun J, Chen CG, Corkey BE, Kirkland JL, Ma J, Guo W. Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects. Metabolism. 2007 Jul;56(7):985-91. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2007.03.005. PMID: 17570262.
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