Can You Use MCT Oil If Not On Keto Diet? (Yes, Here’s Why)

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MCT oil is a pantry staple for those on a keto diet, but with its claimed benefits and increasing popularity, you may be curious to understand whether you can use it without following a keto diet and still reap any associated benefits.  

Can you use MCT if not on a keto diet? You don’t need to be following a keto diet in order to yield the benefits of MCT oil. Regardless of whether you are eating carbs or not, MCT oil can still work to suppress appetite, improve cognition, and provide you with a fast source of energy. 

With that said, a key component of the keto diet is encouraging fat loss by lowering carb intake to the extent that your body uses fat for energy and MCT oil plays a part in supporting this process. However, this is unlikely to occur where you are eating carbs because carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy.

MCT oil can be a critical tool for you to utilize when following a low carb or keto style diet, however, if it is a supplement you enjoy and want to use while still eating carbs, rest assured:

  • You can still use MCT oil
  • You don’t need to be using fat as energy to lose fat
  • Having carbs won’t limit the benefits of MCT oil

In this article, I’ll discuss the link between MCT oil and keto, how effective MCT oil can be while not eating a keto diet, and whether you can take MCT oil with carbs.  

MCT oil in diet

MCT oil is a popular supplement for those on a keto diet, because of its ability to be absorbed quickly by the body, provide you with an energy source, not from carbs, and keep your body in a state of ketosis.

Your body naturally wants to use carbs as a preferred energy source to support body and brain function.  However, on a keto diet, carbs are minimal and so too is their ability to give you energy.

When carbs aren’t available to be used as energy or your body has used up all its stored energy from carbs (known as your glycogen stores), it will then reach for fats as an energy source and start producing ketones. When your body is utilizing fats for energy, it is in a state of ketosis.

When your body is producing ketones, your liver has broken down stored fat as an energy source to support your brain and body functions. If you’re in a state of ketosis and are consuming fewer calories than you’re using, the combined effect is fat loss.

So what’s the role of MCT oil in this? 

  • MCTs don’t need to be digested, so when you consume MCT oil it goes straight to your liver where it is used to supply a fast energy source i.e. ketones. 
  • If you’re on a keto diet, maintaining a low to no carb intake, you’re forcing your body to use fat for energy and produce ketones.  
  • MCT oil will support this process by providing more ketones to your body for energy. The idea is that there are more ketones available being used for energy and the longer you can remain in a ‘ketosis’ state because you aren’t consuming carbs to fuel your body.  Instead, you’re using ketones.

Should you take MCT Oil? If so, when and how much?

Is MCT Oil Good For You If Not On Keto? (4 Benefits)

benefits of MCT oil if not on keto

You will still experience the associated benefits of MCT oil even when you’re not on a keto diet. 

These include:

  • Aid fat loss
  • Brain performance
  • Exercise endurance 
  • Heart health

1. Aid Fat Loss

Research in MCT oil use has indicated that it can assist in weight loss because it assists you in feeling fuller for longer and managing hunger cues. If this is occurring you’re less likely to overeat on calories and store unused energy as fat.

I discuss more on how MCT oil promotes fat loss in my article: Can Too Much MCT Oil Make You Fat?

2. Brain Performance

MCT oil and its use is not solely for the purpose of weight loss and supporting a keto diet. Studies undertaken have shown that its use may improve cognitive function for those with Alzheimer’s, assist people experiencing some types of epilepsy, and might help children on the autism spectrum

3. Exercise Endurance 

Some research on the use of MCT oil has shown it reduces the buildup of lactic acid. When you exercise your muscles produce lactic acid leading to those muscle aches we are all too familiar with. 

Through introducing MCT oil the speculation is that when you’re exercising and experiencing reduced lactic acid build-up, you’ll have more energy to perform better and longer in your workouts. 

4. Heart Health

MCTs have the ability to assist weight loss which can minimize obesity as one of the key risk factors associated with heart disease. 

In addition, studies have shown that a diet using MCT oil could also lead to improved cholesterol levels, another risk factor of heart disease, and in turn better heart function.

Is MCT Oil Just As Effective Both On & Off Keto?

If you are working towards body composition goals, MCT oil can still be an effective supplement to incorporate regardless of whether you are on or off a keto diet, because the benefits don’t change. 

It is true that MCT oil is a supplement heavily relied on and used by those on keto, but that is because a whole food group, carbs, is removed from their dietary intake. In this instance, the type of benefits provided from MCT oil assist in bringing some gaps caused by little to no carb intake. 

By using MCT oil on a keto diet, you can enjoy its benefits without limiting your access to the valuable nutrients and advantages from carbs. 

Can You Take MCT Oil With Carbs?

MCT oil with carbs

You are able to take MCT oil with carbs. Ultimately what you will gain from MCT oil will depend on your overall goals.

  • If you’re looking for a supplement to support a no to low carb diet, incorporating MCT oil will help support the supply of energy in the form of ketones and your body remaining in ketosis.
  • If your diet includes carbs, your body won’t utilize MCT oil as its primary source of energy, because the body will reach for carbs in the first instance. 

What your body uses for energy is the main difference for how your body reacts to MCT oil when your diet still includes carbs. 

However, by still consuming fats like MCT oil as part of your diet will help stabilize blood sugar levels, improve brain alertness and even act as an appetite suppressant.

Taking MCT Oil: Amount, Timing, & Type

taking mct oil: amount, timing, and type

When incorporating MCT oil into your nutritional regime, always consider the amount you have, when you have it and what type of MCT oil best suits you in order to get the best results. 

Amount

The amount of MCT oil you take should be determined by how well you tolerate it and what you are looking to achieve. 

Most dosing recommendations start at 1 teaspoon per serve, with the guide to work up to a 1 tablespoon serving size. Research suggests that you should not exceed 7 tablespoons of MCT oil a day and serving sizes should be spread throughout the day. 

Exceeding dosing recommendations can cause gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, nausea and diarrhea, which is why it is best to introduce MCT oil gradually. Talk to one of the Registered Dieticians if you have any questions around your dosing requirements. 

Timing

MCT oil taken as part of a keto diet is best used at times when you are in a fasted state and require a quick source of energy and to encourage your body to remain in ketosis by using fasts for energy. 

Otherwise, MCT oil is used as part of a balanced diet including carbs, the best timing approach is to break up your servings across the day. 

If you are implementing a fasting diet, be sure to read my article Can You Take MCT Oil On An Empty Stomach?

Type

MCT oil comes in two popular forms:

  • As a powdered form, which can be used as a creamer and mixed in with coffees. 

 The best things to consider when selecting the best MCT oil for you is:

  • How do you want to use it?
  • Whether you have stomach sensitivities to consider?
  • Any taste or palate preferences you have.

If you’re looking to try a flavorless and versatile MCT oil, I’d recommend Bulletproof

Bulletproof MCT oil

They have a long tenure in the market producing reputable, high-quality stock backed by thousands of user reviews. 

Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone

The Bottom Line

MCT oil has many potential benefits, some of which are very supportive to those on a keto diet, however, these benefits are diverse benefits and you can still experience them even when incorporating MCT oil as part of a balanced diet including carbs. 

If you’d like to understand more about MCT oil and how it can support you in the pursuit of your goals, reach out to the team and we can discuss your specific needs further. 

MCT Oil Resources


About The Author

Steph Catalucci | Nutrition Coach
@macronutritionau | macro-nutrition.com.au

Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food.  Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.