I like to joke that I am the tortoise from the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The one that gave us the motivational saying, “Slow and steady wins the race!” To challenge myself, I began the year with an ambitious focus and the theme ELEVATE. I was doing really well until March rolled around. I was time blocking my weeks and steadily checking through my to dos. Then, out of nowhere, March hit me in the face and I went from the steady pace of the tortoise to the smooth, time stopping glide of the banana slug.
Having already made professional commitments with deadlines attached to them, this new pace was an undesired change. Seeking a solution, I began to look into healthy energy boosting options. I was already working out (jumping on my trampoline), alternating mint green tea, matcha latte, chaga, and chai tea throughout the week. I was getting my dose of green juices, ayurvedic dry brushing, ending my showers with a Wim Hof inspired cold blast, and diffusing essential oils– among other remedies.
Yet, none of these things were working all of a sudden. I let a week go by thinking I just needed rest. Then another. I began to see that this new state of energy was apparently sticking around and I needed a fresh healthy solution to kick my metabolism into a faster pace.
I considered trying coffee again but it makes me jittery and wired, so that was unappealing. Not being a daily coffee drinker, I never got into the bulletproof coffee craze. It was suggested to me time and again when I asked around what other entrepreneurs were using to keep the pep in their step. So, I decided to try just the MCT part of the recipe blended into my daily tea and WOW! After finding the right one for me, I noticed a huge difference!
I didn’t experience the negative jitters or an energy crash like coffee, instead my energy boosted, my focus was sustained for the full day and I found myself moving at a pace somewhere between the tortoise and the hare. With the incredible results I knew I needed to research MCT more thoroughly to share it with you. The benefits are very appealing! Make sure to read through the side effects that some people experience. We are all genetically different and you definitely want to avoid the possibility of “disaster pants” – yes it means what you think it means.
What is MCT?
MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride. A triglyceride is also referred to as a fatty acid, so MCT is the same thing as MCFA, medium chain fatty acid. Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of lipids or fats.
One of the ways fatty acids are classified is by the number of carbon atoms in their tails. Long-chain fatty acids (LCT) are those with 14 or more carbons. Short chain triglycerides (SCT) are made up of 6 or fewer carbon atoms and Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are made up of 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat. The majority of fat in your diet is made up of long-chain triglycerides, yet MCT is getting all the hype. Why?
What makes MCT so special?
MCTs are processed by the body differently then long-chain fatty acids. Unlike other fats, they go straight from the gut to the liver. From here, they are used as a source of energy or turned into ketones. Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat at once. These ketones can be used by the brain for energy instead of glucose or sugar.
Since calories in MCTs are used straightaway, they are less likely to be stored as fat. Instead, you use the fat right away for energy through the day without the typical weight gain that can come from increasing fat consumption in our diet. Pretty neat, right? So how can we get MCT in our diet for increased energy without the typical weight gain side effect of eating extra fats?
My Experience with the Diverse Forms of MCT
MCTs are found in coconut oil as well as palm oil, breastmilk, goats milk, cheese and other types of dairy.
I am not a fan of palm oil due to the deforestation and earth devastation that industry is causing. Considering the list, coconut oil was my preferred of the options by a landslide. I was already using coconut oil as my primary cooking oil so I was a bit skeptical if adding additional coconut oil into my diet would too much.
SOLID COCONUT OIL
First, I tried adding a small scoop of solid coconut oil into my hot tea and whipping it together until the coconut oil melted and blended. I already had this form of coconut oil in my kitchen so this was a great place to start. Unfortunately, I felt very nauseous from this method. It also was not enjoyable. At all. It felt like I was drinking slime. Yuck.
The bullet proof coffee recipe has coconut oil and butter within coffee, but the blending makes it frothy and so others enjoy it and get lots of sustained energy from it. I have tried it. I didn’t enjoy that blend either. So, it may just be my tastebuds but this for of MCT was a big nope for me.
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LIQUID MCT OIL
Secondly, I purchased a bottle specifically labelled MCT oil. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and contains both MCTs and other types of fatty acids. The bottle I purchased was liquid at room temperature and is a concentration of the MCT components of coconut oil without the other fatty acids. Note that when deciding which brand MCT Oil to purchase I discovered that different brands contain different percentages of the diverse medium chain triglycerides so there is a variety of formulations to test within the liquid MCT market.
So, you’re probably wondering, did this form work!? No, it didn’t work for me personally. I found the liquid to be similar to the solid coconut oil. Again, I found it gross to drink and I got a bit nauseous from it. I did not notice a significant increase in my energy either. The thing I did notice was that my appetite was not as fierce as usual.
Consuming the extra MCT fats seemed to help satiate my appetite for longer periods and though I didn’t experience an increase in energy I did experience sustained energy throughout the day. With this form of MCT, I found I was snacking less and desiring less tea throughout the day. Those positive results encouraged me to explore the final form of MCT.
POWDERED COCONUT OIL
Motivated by the liquid MCT positives I decided to give one last form of MCT a try. The third form is powdered coconut oil, re MCT powder. This form is said to be gentler on the stomach and easier to consume so I purchased a packet of the powdered MCT Coconut Creamer and added it to my chai. I whipped in the powder and my tea became a chai coconut latte. Yummy! I didn’t taste an oil texture at all. Good bye slimy oil flavor; hello smooth creamy latte. It passed the flavor test but what really impressed me was my energy uptick. Adding a full scoop to my chai gave me energy well into the afternoon.
In addition, my ability to focus for longer periods of time became the norm. Instead of energy crashes, my energy seemed to organically wear off throughout the afternoon. This was exactly what I was being told to expect and it truly helped me become more energized and productive in a healthy way. This was the holy grail version of MCT for me and my system.
[WARNING: TMI coming at you!] In addition to the increased energy, another positive side effect, was feeling fuller longer and having very regular daily bowel movements. I am pretty regular, healthy 1-2 times a day person. Adding MCT into my diet gave me the 2-3 times per day pattern and with this I felt even more energized with everything moving steadily through my system. I was hooked! I began a daily use of MCT Powder and loved it until about the fifth day. What happened?
Side Effects of MCT
Disaster Pants is a term you will find on the internet connected with MCT. The increase in fat into the diet at regular intervals creates regular and increased bowel movements. This is healthy, especially if you are not usually regular this can be a beneficial side effect. However, with the regular use of MCT blended with my healthy diet, after a few days in a row consuming the MCT I found myself going more then the natural 2-3 times per day amount.
I work from home so this didn’t cause any disasters for me. We all process fat differently so it can vary dramatically in how it effects different people. It is important to note this as a side effect, with the suggestion to try MCT for the first time at home, just in case. The solution for me has been to use MCT as a supplement on days when I need that extra boost of energy, not as a daily drink. This adjustment solved the mild side effects I was experiencing.
Remember that MCT is a fatty acid. This is important because if you are challenged with your cholesterol, you need to monitor the fats you are consuming and MCT falls into this category. There is conflicting study data on if MCT is harmful or helpful for the body cholesterol levels.
One study of 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol. In contrast, a study in 14 healthy men reported that MCT supplements negatively affected cholesterol, increasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. My belief is that this is person to person dependent. Proceed with caution if you have any challenges with your cholesterol at all and definitely get your doctors input before consuming MCT.
A thorough list of minor side effects of consuming MCT have been reported to include fatigue, energy crashes, light headedness, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.
I have also noticed feeling dehydrated and mild headaches from this dehydration. I assume this is from the increase in metabolism and the increased frequency of bowel movements. When I increased my water consumption and took a few days off in between using the MCT I found everything balanced out for me.
It is said that these can be avoided in most people by starting with small doses, such as 1/2 a teaspoon, and increasing intake slowly. It is also said that the powdered form is easier to digest. I personally found this to be the case.
Consuming the powdered form I didn’t experience the same nausea and upset stomach I had on the liquid concentrated MCT version. With steady use I did notice an increase in bowel movements and those came with a bit of dehydration (as mentioned above). Proceed with caution and adjust accordingly.
Benefits of MCT
With the above side effect concerns why is MCT so popular? Well, the above list are relatively mild concerns and the benefits are very appealing! Studies demonstrate that taking MCTs offers a wide range of benefits such as improving gut health, aiding immune function, reducing appetite, encouraging healthy weight loss, improving cognition and brain health, reducing the risk of heart disease, and enhancing exercise performance.
Too good to be true? Well, I was intrigued and the only thing I can say for sure is that MCT Powder definitely gave me more energy, increased my focus time and suppressed my appetite. I wish it didn’t come with any side effects. Thankfully for me these only really showed up if I consume MCT multiple days in a row.
I now use MCT as a supplement on the days when I need that extra boost to get me from the banana slug speed to a healthy productive pace. With this, my 2019 goals are steadily finding themselves back on track. Cheers to that!
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