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MCT oil has become increasingly popular because of its many touted benefits but you might be wondering if it’s also possible to experience side effects like bloating, gas and constipation when using it.
MCT oil is digested differently from other fats and consuming too much will likely cause stomach discomfort. Too much MCT oil would be considered more than 1tbs in a single sitting, or more than 4-7tbs throughout the day. The side effects of this may include bloating, gas, and to a lesser extent, constipation.
That being said, for most people, changing up how you dose your MCT oil or what you mix it with, should help alleviate some of your discomforts.
In this article I’ll discuss:
- Possible reasons why MCT oil may cause stomach upset
- If the brand of MCT oil matters when it comes to feeling bloated
- What to do if you get gas when using MCT oil
- What to consider if you’re still not feeling better
5 Reasons Why MCT Oil Can Cause Bloating, Gas, & Constipation
Experiencing bloating, gas, or constipation when using MCT oil could be the result of one of the following common reasons:
- How long you have been taking it
- How much you are taking at a time
- How you’re mixing it
- Whether you’re taking it on an empty stomach
- It is past its use by date
1. How Long You Have Been Taking It
The gastrointestinal side effects of MCT oil use often appear when you first start using it because it takes a while for your body to adjust and work up a tolerance to it.
Research suggests you should build your tolerance of MCT oil up over time with maximum doses not exceeding 4-7 tablespoons of MCT oil a day.
You can build up your tolerance by introducing MCT oil in a teaspoon serving size and building it up over days or weeks until your daily quantity is at your desired amount. By gradually building up your dose, you’ll limit potential side effects like gas, bloating and constipation.
2. How Much You Are Taking at a Time
You should avoid having more than one tablespoon of MCT oil at a time. Having more than this could increase the amount of gastrointestinal distress you feel.
If you’re looking to have more than one tablespoon of MCT oil in a day, just split up your serves across the day.
3. How You’re Mixing It
MCT oil is absorbed by the body faster because it doesn’t need to be digested by the stomach. Black tea and coffee, while a popular liquid to mix with your MCT oil, also don’t require the stomach to help with digestion and so you’re still likely to experience bloating, constipation or gas by using it that way.
If you are wanting to mix it, there is the option of including MCT oil in a juice or smoothie, this would involve the stomach to assist with digestion and ease the pressure on your gastrointestinal tract.
4. Whether You’re Taking It on an Empty Stomach
When you chew and eat food, you generate digestive enzymes in your stomach to break down the food. By taking MCT oil on an empty stomach, your stomach doesn’t have an opportunity to release those enzymes. Instead, your MCT oil will go straight to your small intestine for absorption. This is why you may experience digestive unease.
Coupling your MCT with a small snack or as part of a meal, may help with this as the food will prompt your stomach to create digestive enzymes to assist with breaking down your food and MCT oil.
I have discussed this topic at length previously, so if you’re looking for further details on what happens when you take MCT oil on an empty stomach, check it out.
5. It Is Past Its Use by Date
MCT oil like any oil can go out of date.
The older your MCT oil gets the more impurities could develop. As well as their being a foul smell and funky taste, it might also cause some gastrointestinal issues. Always check the use-by date and don’t buy your MCT oil in bulk.
Does The Brand of MCT Oil Matter When It Comes To Feeling Bloated?
Like with any supplement you want to ensure the quality of product and purity of ingredients and MCT oil is no different. To avoid nasty side effects like bloating, focus on the ingredients of your MCT oil as opposed to just the brand.
MCT stands for the Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), these are fatty acids known as C6, C8, C10, and C12, which is what you should see reflected on the ingredients panel of your MCT oil.
Research has suggested that C8 and C10 are the better MCTs, so when looking for an MCT oil supplement, check the ingredients panel to ensure it includes one or both of these MCTs.
In addition, because MCTs are not naturally occurring, to turn them into a supplement they need to be extracted from other oils like coconut. How this process occurs may impact the quality of the product.
So while the specific brand of MCT oil doesn’t necessarily matter, you want to purchase your MCT oil from a reputable source that uses the best MCTs in their supplement. Bulletproof is an awesome example of this and backed by thousands of user reviews as well.
What To Do If MCT Oil Gives You Gas?
If you’re finding MCT oil is giving you gas, consider the following options to see if you get any relief:
- Take your MCT oil with food
- Trying taking it in a different form
- Stick to dosage recommendations
- Split multiple doses across the day
Try Taking It in a Different Form
Having your MCT oil with food can help limit feeling those stomach sensitivities because digestive enzymes in the stomach are generated and will assist digestion without irritating your gastrointestinal tract.
- Related Article: Nuts Make Me Gassy & Bloated: 4 Reasons & How To Fix
Try Taking It in a Different Form
Using an MCT powder or creamer can be a good alternative to straight MCT oil. Some users have anecdotally reported experiencing less irritation and better digestion because the oil is bonded with a powder.
Bulletproof has MCT powder single-serve packs, which make it easy to transport and get the proper dosage.
Take the Right Dose
To minimize gas and other digestive discomforts you’re feeling, consider the following staggered dosage approach:
- Start with one teaspoon of MCT daily, building up to two teaspoons and then three teaspoons daily
- Gradually increase MCT oil in these teaspoon increments each day or week (depending on how your body adapts) until you reach a tablespoon per serve.
- For example, when you reach 3 teaspoons in a day, move to a tablespoon, then move to one tablespoon and one teaspoon per day.
- This will build up your tolerance to the supplement as you reach your desired daily intake. Though you should not exceed maximum daily amounts which are 4-7 tablespoons per day.
- For reference a tablespoon is roughly the equivalent of 3 teaspoons.
Split up the Dose
You can consume a maximum of 7 tablespoons of MCT oil a day but research undertaken has shown that spreading your serves of MCT oil evenly across the day will reduce gastrointestinal discomfort.
Work up to a tablespoon of MCT oil in one serve. If you’re looking to incorporate more MCT oil, spread it out across the day, which should help avoid any stomach upset.
Consuming the maximum servings all at once is a sure-fire way to set your guts on fire.
I’m Still Bloated & Constipated, What Else Should I Do?
If you’ve tried a number of solutions to alleviate your bloat and constipation when taking MCT oil, then it is time to either stop taking it or consult a professional like a Registered DIetician who can look into your specific circumstances (connect with us and we can help).
In instances where you are feeling ongoing side effects then the discomfort you are feeling is counterproductive to any health benefits you are trying to achieve because you are causing unnecessary stress to your body.
The Bottom Line
Most digestive complaints caused by MCT oil can be resolved by checking your dosage amounts and frequency of consumption.
Beyond that though, if you are experiencing sustained problems, it is time to get some help from a professional who can ensure you are not causing yourself any health risks. If you don’t know where to go, try starting with contacting one of our many nutrition coaches or dieticians who would be happy to assist.
Other MCT Oil Resources
- Does MCT Oil Cause Headaches? (What The Science Says)
- MCT Oil vs Powder: Pros, Cons, & Which Should You Take?
- Top 5 MCT Oil Alternatives (That Have Similar Results)
- MCT Oil vs Omega 3: Pros, Cons, & Do You Need To Take Both?
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.