The Science Behind MCT
C8 MCT Oil: The Most Potent Energy Source for Ketogenic Practitioners
- Why are MCTs important?
- What is C8 - Capyrlic Acid?
- Increased Ketone Production
- Anti-Microbial, Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Fungal
- Improved Exercise Performance
- Better Cognitive Health
- Weight Loss
- Gut Health
- THK Honest MCT VS Other MCT Oil Products
- How & When to Use THK's C8 MCT Oil
- Honest Keto Dosage
- Palm Oil and Its Concerns
Why are MCT’s important?
The most important benefit that MCT’s have when it comes to the ketogenic diet, is its ability to generate ketones and its effect in creating an optimal ketogenic state. Your goal on a ketogenic diet is to produce these ketones on its own.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) are an unique fatty acid found in dairy fats (milk, butter and cream) but are most prominent in ‘tropical’ oils like Coconut and Palm Kernal oil.
MCTs have gained increasing prominence against a backdrop of the widespread influence of carbohydrates amongst the dietary consumption habits of the developed world where carbohydrate consumption is the norm.
According to Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney authors of the “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” this habit has triggered the concept of carbohydrate intolerance which is being increasingly understood to be a manifestation of insulin resistance and associated with high blood triglycerides, high blood pressure and in its most severe form, type-2 diabetes. The high prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes – are all conditions that can be ascribed to carbohydrate intolerance.
By not raising insulin, MCTs provide a strong alternative for meeting energy needs without contributing to the prevailing high carbohydrate epidemic. In ketogenic diets, MCT is a valuable supplement to be added alongside a proper ketogenic diet. Unlike a high carbohydrate diet that blocks your ability to employ fat to fuel your brain and body, a ketogenic diet induces the body to use fat as its primary source of fuel thereby providing a variety of benefits. But that’s a different discussion lets get back to MCTs…
When ingested, MCTs create ketones, which are simple energy molecules that provide a readily available source of energy to fuel both the brain and the body.
Ketones or ketone bodies supplied by these MCTs are a more efficient fuel than glucose (Prince et al. 2013). This is because:
- MCT’s are more readily bioavailable compared to other fuel sources such as glucose, or even long-chain fatty acids (LCTs). They oxidise and get metabolised relatively quickly compared to LCTs and bypass the lymphatic system to be diffused directly into the hepatic portal vein. In other words, MCT's go straight to the liver to produce ketones thus providing a steady stream of energy. (Volek et al. 2011)
- MCTs also enhance thermogenesis and fat oxidation. Yes they are called “fatty acids” but MCTs do not get converted into fat or adipose tissue. Unlike LCTs (which contain higher calories per gram) they do not require assistance from mitochondrial membrane proteins to get into the mitochondrial matrix. Once eaten they are promptly oxidised for fuel by the mitochondria (β-oxidation). This prevents MCTs from accumulating as fat in body tissues.
- MCT's can help induce nutritional ketosis (NK) in ketogenic diets that are lacking proper fat consumption (Harvey, Schofield & Williden 2018)
All in all, MCTs can enhance the body's thermogenesis capability – the ability to burn calories - and help attain nutritional ketosis.
Ok so… what is The Honest Keto’s C8 MCT all about?
Let’s get into it. First, let's delve into the principal component of the Honest MCT – caprylic acid (C8).
What is Caprylic Acid (C8) ?
MCTs consists of three or four (depending on who you ask) medium chain triglycerides, varying by the number of carbon atoms in its hydrocarbon chain:
- Caproic Acid or Hexanoic Acid (C6:0)
- Caprylic Acid or Octanoic acid (C8:0)
- Capric Acid or Decanoic Acid (C10:0) – Also known as a long-chain fatty acid (LCT).
- Lauric Acid or Deodecanoic Acid (C12:0) – Also known as a long-chain fatty acid (LCT).
The shorter the length of the chain the easier it is for the body to process and utilise energy from the fatty acid, turning the MCT into ketones. C8 > C12 for example.
Although C6 has a shorter chain, it is not viable for commercial use as commercially both coconut and palm oil contain very small amounts of it. It also tastes bitter. Therefore C8 is commonly accepted as more commercially viable for supplementation. Besides, C6 is also more common in animal fats than in the "tropical oils". (Bach & Babayan 1982)
MCTs are present in whole foods but the amounts and types vary. Generally speaking, coconut oil, coconut derived products and palm oil have higher concentrations of lauric acid (C12) than the capric and caprylic acid (C6 & C8) while dairy products have less C12 and more C6 and C8.
Caprylic Acid Triglycerides .. uh what?
As mentioned, C8 or caprylic acid is often referred to by its chemical name octanoic acid. Octa is a reference to the number 8 (8 carbons in its chain).
Caprylic Acid Triglycerides have a slightly different molecule to caprylic acid because it is a free fatty acid bonded to a glycerol molecule.
Caprylic Acid + Glycerol (from sustainable sources) = Caprylic Acid Triglycerides
This property does not affect potency or function in any way, but actually turns Caprylic Acid into a digestible oil. The pancreas secretes an enzyme called lipase that is responsible for breaking up the triglycerides into three fatty acid components and a glycerol molecule. Once broken down, the Caprylic Acid is converted into ketones. (Nutrition Issues in Gastroenterology 2017)
The Honest Keto’s C8 MCT contains only caprylic acid triglycerides (C8’s) with 2% capric acid (C10) yielding a dose of 98% Caprylic Acid Triglycerides.
There are many benefits from consuming only C8 in the ketogenic diet. Not only do The Honest Keto’s C8 MCTs produce effects more quickly in the body they also promise a wide range of positive benefits:
Benefit #1 – Increased Ketone Production
Most importantly, ketone production is significantly increased with just 30mls of C8 daily. (d C. Harvey et al. 2018)
Even in the presence of insulin (such as when you’ve been eating carbohydrates or moderate amounts of protein), C8 is more readily absorbed in the GI tract and rapidly oxidised and thus more able to help the body attain nutritional ketosis in a more robust fashion than LCTs. Translation: whether you follow the ketogenic diet or are even if the body is in a state of ketosis, C8 will convert into ketones. (McGarry & Foster 1971) (Schwabe, Bennett & Bowman 1964)
Benefit #2 – Anti-Microbial, Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal
Caprylic Acid has shown to have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Intestinal candida (the overgrowth of yeast fungus in your gut) and various forms of mould growth can be wiped out completely by caprylic acid according to a study conducted by Japan’s Niigata University. Caprylic acid dissolves the cell membrane of the candida yeast cells causing them to die off. (Tsukahara 1961)
Caprylic Acid is also superior and less expensive than Diffulcan (a fungal medication) and can be a reliable solution to alleviate a number of medical problems. (Omura et al. 2011)
Benefit #3 – Improved Exercise Performance
Because MCT's have a high energy density and are rapidly absorbed by the body and fast converting, they have become increasingly popular with recreational and as well as athletic athletes.
Of interest to elite athletes is that an MCT containing diet has shown to improve high-temperature induced exercise performance impairment. It has been shown that exercise performance can improve almost twice as much using MCT. (Wang et al. 2018)
Another study showed that cyclists who consumed MCT beforehand improved their overall response times after a 40km time trial (talk about work!). (Zyl et al. 1996)
Research in this space is rapidly evolving as the low carbohydrate, high-fat diet gains traction. One recent study saw recreational athletes who had consumed MCTs lasting longer during exercising than athletes who had taken LCTs (coconut oil and other generic MCTs). (Nosaka et al. 2009)
Studies on whether MCTs enhance exercise endurance is still being researched, recent (2018) research has proved positive. (Wang et al. 2018)
Benefit #4 – Better Cognitive Health
As most of our brain consists of fatty acids it’s a no-brainer (no pun intended!) that supplementing with MCTs will provide an immediate boost of energy. Ketones are able to bypass the blood-brain barrier and serve as fuel for the central nervous system and its functions.
However, our brains rely on glucose as the primary form of energy, and this can lead to problems as we age.
With Alzheimer’s disease, there is a decrease in the brain’s ability to utilise glucose. In such situations, ketone bodies can serve as an effective alternative energy source for the brain. One study showed an increase in cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders after oral supplementation with MCTs that produced higher ketone levels in the blood. The higher plasma levels of ketones (BHB) through the oxidation of the MCTs were directly correlated with higher performance in memory scores. (Reger et al. 2004)
It has been shown that supplementing with 30g of MCT per day for one month can double brain ketone consumption compensate for the glucose deficit in the brain. These are encouraging results for AD patients! (Croteau et al. 2018b)
Ketogenic intervention may be a solution for increasing energy availability in the brain of aging adults judging by the results of this study that demonstrates that ketones can compensate the reduction in brain glucose metabolism as the brain experiences structural atrophy as we age. AD of course amplifies the degeneration. (Croteau et al. 2018a)
Why are there significant improvements with MCTs? This is due to the chemical configuration of MCT combined with the unique metabolic needs of the brain. The dietary ketosis induced by MCT supplementation can make insulin resistant cells that have lost their ability to utilise glucose be restored to normal metabolic functioning. Because MCT’s are quickly absorbed, they do not get stored as adipose tissue and do not require enzymes (carnitine) as in the case of LCTs to be broken down. What more can we ask for! (Cunnane et al. 2016)
In this study, a 28-day ketogenic diet reduced the symptoms of Parkinson’s deases reduced by 43%. All patients reported moderate to very good improvements in symptoms. (VanItallie et al. 2005)
Benefit #5 - Weight Loss
Fats play a major role in the ketogenic diet. They also help increase satiety (the feeling of staying fuller for longer).
It isn't just about the benefits of fat. MCT's in particular can increase your basal metabolic rate – generating more positive weight-loss outcomes.
Points to consider are:
- The quality of fat intake can influence weight loss. This study compares MCTs vs olive oil. (St-Onge & Bosarge 2008)
- The relationship between body fat percentages and the rate at which fat loss is attributed to MCTs vs LCTs. Results were conclusive that MCT can stimulate the greatest energy expenditure (EE) and fat oxidation in men at the lower end of body weight and to a lower extent in men of greater body weight. It is clear therefore that MCT is most effective in a weight prevention scenario. (St-Onge & Jones 2003)
- Published in the Journal of Nutrition this double blind placebo study proved clearly that a diet rich in MCT has a greater fat-loss effect than LCTs keeping everything else constant – most likely the result of MCT’s ability to produce dietary ketones more efficiently. (Tsuji et al. 2001)
Oh and chilli lovers, get this! MCT + chilli = shown to improve diet induced thermogenesis by up to 50% (go figure!) , improve satiety (the feeling of fullness) and decrease energy intake. How good! (Clegg, Golsorkhi & Henry 2013)
Benefit #6 - Gut Health
With so much research into the “gut-brain” connection we’re starting to understand the many ways gut microbiome impact the brain. (Galland 2014)
MCTs are fatty acids and healthy fats are important because they help absorb key vitamins and minerals. A body that is fed a rich whole foods diet but deficient in healthy fats will not absorb nutrients optimally..
Studies have also shown that MCTs can act as a stress reliever through its effect on the flight/fight response in the brain. (Kimura et al. 2011)
THK Honest MCT vs Other MCT Oil Products
We've told you that MCTs can be found in wholefoods such as coconut and/or palm oil but are extracted and refined to be produced into a more efficient form such as MCT Oil and MCT Powder (an oil form that has undergone spray drying).
Most whole foods have a combination of the 4 fatty acids. However, if we focus on just the 2 most efficient MCTs – C8 and C10 - twe have a short list. C8 and C10 are ‘relatively rare’ ingredients.
It is clear that supplementing with MCT oil allows you to get the advantages of concentrated doses of MCTs that convert quickly to ketones without having to eat copious amounts of whole foods for the same benefits.
Put into perspective – taking 500mg of Vitamin C is equivalent to consuming 10 cups of orange juice and over 1000 calories of fruit in sugar. You’d need to eat 14.25 tablespoons of coconut oil at 1875 calories to get the benefits of one tablespoon of the Honest MCT at about 93 calories. It is always worth remembering that pure C8 metabolises much more rapidly, produces faster and more sustained energy and has 37 less net calories per tablespoon than other longer chain fatty acids (LFAs) such as coconut oil.
Most MCT oil products currently available are a mixture of caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) and sometimes include lauric acid (C12) commonly found in coconut oil. The stated ratios vary somewhat across products but generally contain anywhere from 50 – 75% C8.
Whilst Coconut Oil is an abundant source of MCT’s, here is a breakdown fatty acid compositions across different blends of oils:
MCT Oil recent increase in popularity has brought coconut oil to the forefront of attention. Rightly so, however it would be safe to assume that MCT’s success is attributed to the shorter chain fatty acids contained within them (ie C6 and C8’s) – thus it is prudent not to confuse MCT Oils or coconut oil with a pure C8 Oil.
The Honest Keto’s C8 MCT is 2% capric acid (C10) and 98% caprylic acid (C8) contained within it.
The Honest Keto’s MCT Oil ethically sourced and sustainably produced Non-GMO pure C8 MCT oil is your best choice for thermogenesis (the burning of fat) and an effective low carbohydrate diet.
We know that C8 MCT has the highest net ketogenic effect on the body (compared to other MCT oils). (Vandenberghe et al. 2017)
How & When to Use THK’s C8 MCT Oil:
Since pure C8 MCT Oil is both odourless and tasteless it is a versatile oil to add to to practically anything and everything on your daily menu.
- Your morning coffee – Adding THK’s Honest MCT is the perfect addition to creating a bulletproof coffee.
- Pre and post workout shakes and smoothies
Here are some guidelines to maximise the benefits of adding Caprylic Acid to your diet.
Since C8 is readily digested by the liver it can be used as a pre-workout. Preferably take roughly 30-45 minutes before workout.
Combining C8 with meals that contain carbs and/or protein reduces the overall GI effect thus negating the potential for blood glucose spikes, although precise effects vary from person to person.
It has been shown that for both obese and lean individuals, meals with MCTs increased thermogenesis after eating. (Scalfi, Coltorti & Contaldo 1991)
Caffeine consumed upon waking has shown to stimulate ketone production. Whether the ketogenic effect is enhanced with MCT will need more study. Theoretically, caffeine and MCTs could have complementary effects. This is the rationale behind the famous "Bullet Proof" coffee pioneered by Dave Asprey. (Vandenberghe et al. 2016)
Can be ingested any time of the day to fulfil your fat-intake needs.
The Honest Keto MCT C8 - is the “Louis Vuitton” of fats.
Honest Keto Dosage
A maximum daily dose of 50-100g has been suggested for tolerance – roughly 4-7 tablespoons per day. Yet we advise, starting out with a teaspoon (5gs) and then working up to a daily dose of 10-20g (2 tablespoons). Excessive intake of MCT oil has been associated with gastrointestinal distress, such as abdominal discomfort, cramping, gassiness, bloating and diarrhea so start small! (Bach & Babayan 1982)
The Honest MCT can be mixed with other foods and beverages, even salad dressings.
A mix of about 50-50 with olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar makes for a very tasty salad dressing. Because of the way MCT is metabolised it will assist in the uptake of other vitamins and minerals, so “dress” your salad with the Honest MCT and feel great!
If your cooking with it ensure temperature is kept below 150C-160C to reduce the risk of the oil oxidising, otherwise the flavour of the food could be affected.
Palm Oil and its Concerns
Whilst there are valid concerns about the use of Palm Oil being used in MCT or C8 Products. Please note that:
- No palm kernel oil is added to the product. This is always 100% PURE C8 Caprylic Acid. Palm Kernal and coconut oil are natural sources of caprylic acid. Both can be used to derive caprylic acid however the source becomes irrelevant once refined. To illustrate, as one could derive Vitamin C from oranges and other fruits it does not matter once the Vitamin C is concentrated in a supplement, as the final product is Vitamin C. The source does not affect its performance, colour and/or taste.
- The environmentally and sustainability concerns of products relying on the use of palm oil that does not come from sustainably farmed palm are highly valid concerns. This has led to widespread deforestation, uprooting of local communities and responsible for an increase in C02 emissions caused by deforestation. I was born in the country that occupies the Borneo peninsula and is responsible for the largest palm oil production in the world so I take a keen personal interest in this topic. The MCT used in the Honest Keto’s products are 100% RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified.
The goal of a ketogenic diet, is to ensure that such ketones are produce internally (endogenously) rather than externally. The consumption of MCT can aid in the attainment of such a goal.
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