Adapting to intermittent fasting means limiting your food and liquid intake for certain hours at a time. To increase the benefits of fasting, it’s common to include supplements before, during, and after a fast.
A particularly complementary supplement in the health and fitness world is MCT oil. If you’re looking into managing your appetite and pushing yourself towards your weight loss goals, then MCT oil could be what you need to have for some extra boost.
So, how does it work, and when to take MCT oil when fasting? Let’s explore in the article what you need to know.
What Exactly Is MCT Oil?
MCT oil supplement is made from a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides1.
Medium-chain triglycerides are composed of four fatty acids – caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12). Of the four, caprylic and capric acid are the two that your body most easily uses for energy. The shorter the chain (meaning the lower the number of atomic carbons), the faster your body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy in ketone form.
The fat is commonly derived from coconut oil but can also be from palm oil and dairy products. It is often the recommended supplement to support a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting practice.
What makes MCT oil ideal is that you can absorb them more quickly because its molecules are smaller, allowing for them to be easier to digest. Where most fats are stored, MCT oil is converted immediately into ketones for energy. For this reason, consuming MCT oil is an excellent and healthy addition to your fasting lifestyle.
What Is MCT Oil Used For?
MCT oil is mainly used by people to help with:
- Appetite control
- Boosting their endurance during an exercise
- Losing weight
- Problems taking in fat or nutrients
What Is Fasting?
Fasting, or intermittent fasting (IF), is an increasingly popular eating pattern that involves eating and a fasting period. The amount of time spent fasting is predetermined hours per day or days per week. Fasting gives your digestive system a break and allows your body to focus on other processes, such as cell repair and detoxification.
You probably know intermittent fasting as a weight-loss method, but it is originally done for religious or medical reasons. Currently, IF is promoted as a simple and effective way to lose weight, and while it works well as such, the benefits of time-restricted eating can extend to aging and disease2.
To name a few, here are the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Improvements insulin sensitivity
- Lowers blood pressure
- Supports brain health
- May increase longevity
Why Use MCT Oils With Intermittent Fasting?
Using MCT oil with intermittent fasting can be a great match. Part of fasting is the occasional hunger and craving you experience, which can worsen as your fast continues.
With MCT, it could potentially promote weight loss as it helps suppress your appetite by altering the signaling pathways associated with hunger cravings3.
Furthermore, because MCTs go straight to your liver and are not stored as body fat, they can support you on your weight loss journey.
The Health Benefits Of MCT Oil While Fasting
- Helps maintain gut health – compared to long-chain triglycerides, your body absorbs MCT oil and sends it up to your liver much faster. Its digestion process proceeds more quickly than with long-chain triglycerides to release energy. When you use MCT oil, it might affect your gut bacteria. It could encourage the growth of good bacteria, which might also promote weight loss4.
- Speed up metabolism – medium-chain fatty acids help boost your metabolism and increase your energy. Increasing metabolism boosts the ability to burn fat. A study in 2017 suggests that early intake of medium-chain fatty acids may protect against the detrimental effects of excessive fat accumulation in adulthood5.
- Improve Your Overall Health – another reason people turn to fasting is to protect their health. An intermittent fasting study on adults has shown to improve insulin resistance6. Being insulin-resistant can increase blood sugar and lead to Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. These conditions can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. In addition, taking MCT oil while intermittent fasting can enhance its beneficial effects. Research has shown that MCT oil can help control inflammatory responses7 and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease8.
Does MCT Oil Break Intermittent Fasting?
If you are practicing a strict intermittent fasting regime, having anything other than water, unsweetened tea, or coffee breaks a fast. One tablespoon of MCT oil has approximately 120 calories. That said, when you add MCT oil during your fast, you do break it.
For you to not break your fast, you should use MCT oil only during your eating window. To use MCT oil while fasting, you can take it just before your fast begins to utilize its appetite-suppressant effects.
When To Take MCT Oil When Fasting?
If you do plan on taking MCT oil supplements while you fast, you shouldn’t worry, as a small dose won’t significantly disrupt your intermittent fast regimen. The key to using MCT oil during your fast is to keep the dose to minimal amounts.
By keeping your dosage to a minimum, it ensures that your blood sugar levels do not spike and your total caloric intake is not affected.
While MCT oil is beneficial at any time of the day, consider consuming it with breakfast to help reduce your food intake for the rest of the day.
How Much MCT Oil Should You Take?
Anyone new to MCT oil supplements should start small so that the body’s digestive system can adapt to absorbing the increased load of fat. Typically in liquid form, start with one tablespoon daily and increase your dose if you have minimal side effects.
You can scale up another tablespoon the next day if you can tolerate it. The most you should have in a day is around 4 to 7 tablespoons, preferably spread throughout the day.
However, to avoid taking more calories during your fast, it is recommended you take 1-2 tablespoons. If you hope to get the full dose of MCT oil for the day, you can consume the remaining dose during your eating period.
MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
MCT oil may come from coconut oil, but there is a reason it is named differently. Coconut oil naturally contains MCTs, but it also contains other types of fatty acids, whereas MCT oils are much more concentrated.
Coconut oil is often cheaper and more widely available than MCT oil. You can enjoy both for their antimicrobial properties, but if you aim to have the maximum benefits of MCTs, then it’s best to consider MCT oil as your first choice.
Choosing MCT Oils
When you’re considering buying MCT oil, look for the following:
- Purity – products labeled as pure should disclose the ingredients. Ideally, they should only be a short list. If it’s flavored, make sure the manufacturers aren’t adding artificial sweeteners or added sugar.
- Quality – find higher quality MCT oils. The oil should be a thick and clear liquid. If you notice a lumpy or solid texture, the MCT oil may be hydrogenated or of lesser quality.
Kinds Of MCT Oil
You can enjoy MCT oils in many ways since they can also come in different forms. These are:
- Liquid MCT Oil – as the names suggest, it is in liquid form. They can be paired with coffee, smoothies, and salad dressings. The best part is MCT oil doesn’t add any flavor.
- MCT Oil Powder – is widely considered to be the more convenient option, especially if you’re always on the go. Like the liquid form, it can virtually be mixed with anything.
- MCT Oil Capsules – capsules or soft gels can also be a great alternative if you travel frequently. This is also more suited if you are on a keto diet. It might not have the benefit of curbing hunger, but it will boost ketones and act as fuel for your brain and body.
What Are The Side Effects Of Taking MCT Oil?
MCT oil is a relatively safe supplement, but it does have its side effects when not taken properly. The reason it is advised to take small doses when you’re starting with MCT oil is you might experience problems such as:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Gastric reflux
While there are no dangerous outcomes that have been discovered from using MCT oil, it is still not for everyone. Before adding the supplement to your diet, seek advice from your medical professional.
The positive effects of MCT oil make it an ideal supplement for people who practice intermittent fasting. Not only does it provide favorable results for weight loss, but it may also deliver other additional health benefits.
For many who follow a strict fasting pattern, the recommended time to take MCT oil is just before your fast to make the most of its appetite-suppressant and energy-enhancing effects.
It’s given that taking MCT oil during your fasting period will break it, but only minimally. The best time will always be whenever you feel you need it most. MCT oil can be the perfect solution to get you through the end of your fast.
2 Longo VD, Di Tano M, Mattson MP, Guidi N. Intermittent and periodic fasting, longevity and disease. Nat Aging. 2021 Jan;1(1):47-59. doi: 10.1038/s43587-020-00013-3. Epub 2021 Jan 14. PMID: 35310455; PMCID: PMC8932957.
3 St-Onge MP, Mayrsohn B, O’Keeffe M, Kissileff HR, Choudhury AR, Laferrère B. Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;68(10):1134-40. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.145. Epub 2014 Jul 30. PMID: 25074387; PMCID: PMC4192077.
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