MCT Oil vs Omega 3: Pros, Cons, & Do You Need To Take Both?

MCT oil and Omega 3 oil are both widely used supplements each with their own benefits, which might leave you wondering whether you need to take both. 

Should you take MCT Oil and Omega 3? Taking MCT oil and omega 3 together could be a worthwhile combination. Omega 3 and MCT oil each have their own benefits, but in combining them it is possible they work to enhance the other’s benefits particularly in reducing inflammation and assisting cardiovascular health.

While specific research around taking MCT oil and Omega 3 together is limited, they haven’t been shown to interact negatively with each other either. In fact, these two supplements are more likely to complement any fitness, body composition, or health goals you have.

This article will address:

  • The differences between MCT oil and Omega 3
  • Whether you should take both, or just one or the other
  • Side by side comparison of MCT oil and Omega 3 

5 Differences Between MCT Oil vs Omega 3

When looking at MCT oil and Omega 3 oil, there are 5 primary differences to consider when determining why you would include one, none, or both in your supplement regime:

  • How you want to consume it
  • The purpose for using it
  • The evidence-based benefits
  • The impact they have on sleep
  • The impact they have on energy levels

1. Consumption

One of the more obvious differences between MCT oil and Omega 3 is that Omega 3 typically comes as capsules whereas MCT oil comes as liquid in a bottle.

This makes their consumption different because with MCT oil there is more versatility to incorporate it into foods or drinks, whereas with omega 3 you consume it as a capsule like you would a daily vitamin. 

You are also able to measure out MCT oil into your preferred serving size compared to omega 3 where the serving size is directly correlated to what is in the capsule.

2. Purpose 

It has been reported that MCT supplementation could assist with weight loss or management and provide you with an energy boost, particularly when following a keto or low carb diet. Whereas omega 3 supplementation provides your body with nutrients it can only get from food to help maintain and promote your body’s functions and processes. 

So their intended purposes are different. While MCT oil use is connected to diet supplementation for weight management goals, omega 3 use is more aligned to overall health-seeking goals. 

3. Research 

Omega 3 is a very well-researched supplement with many benefits evidenced through the studies undertaken. These benefits include things like reducing blood fat to lessen heart disease risk factors, assisting with joint pain, and lower levels of depression.

Research undertaken on MCT oil is limited compared to what has been undertaken on omega, and while its benefits around assisting with fat loss and providing an efficient energy source seem promising, more studies are required because results are inconsistent.

In addition, some research completed on MCT oil has used rats as test subjects, while studies on omega 3 consistently use people as participants, which makes the result more reliable when looking to understand the impacts and benefits it can have on you. 

4. Side effects

MCT oil has been associated with many uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. These are connected to dosing amounts and frequency because your body needs to build up a tolerance when incorporating it into your diet. 

The side effects associated with omega 3 are mild if any are even experienced at all. Some reported side effects experienced by those using omega 3 have included bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, an unpleasant taste, and headaches. 

5. Energy

MCT oil is absorbed by the body differently than usual fats like olive oil. This is because it bypasses the digestion process and goes straight to the liver to either be used as energy or stored as fat.  

So when using MCT oil while on a low carb or keto diet, you are able to provide your body with a direct source of energy, in place of the carbs you aren’t eating. Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source.  Omega 3 does not operate in this same way though. 

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

Should You Take Both MCT Oil & Omega 3?

Should you take both MCT oil and Omega 3

Whether you take Omega 3 and MCT oil on their own or together is going to be dependent on your individual needs but there are things you can consider to help determine whether you should be taking both of them. These include:

  • What your desired goals are
  • The costs
  • Your nutritional needs

Goals

If you’re wanting to support your fat loss goals of body composition changes while using a keto or low carb style diet, then MCT oil may be more likely to support you in that endeavor. 

Alternatively, if your primary focus is to improve overall health then the evidence overwhelmingly supports the use of omega 3. 

Given the overall benefits that omega 3 can provide, it being used in conjunction with MCT oil for the purpose of body composition goals, would provide you with added benefits. This is because it assists with inflammation and can help with your mood supporting you feeling strong in body and mind. 

Costs

MCT oil compared to omega 3 is a more expensive supplement, so if cost is a factor for you in determining which supplements to use and you can only choose one, then you’re most likely to get proven benefits at a cheaper price from using omega 3 oil. 

Nutritional Needs

Where your diet isn’t rich in foods that contain omega 3, then omega 3 supplementation is something you should consider using, regardless of whether or not you are using MCT oil. 

However, if you have a diet rich in omega 3 because you consume fish, seafood, nuts, and seeds, then perhaps you don’t need to add in an omega supplement. Two servings of 200-250g per week of fish will provide your body with the omega 3 supplementation it requires. 

If you are on a keto diet rich in fats that naturally contain omega 3, you may not require additional supplementation and MCT oil may provide you with better benefits because of the energy it can provide you. 

Key Takeaway

Like with any supplement considerations, it is best to speak with a professional to ensure their consumption and doses are aligned with your needs. We have nutrition coaches and Registered Dieticians who can help you with supplements to suit your individual goals. 

MCT Oil & Omega 3 Comparison

Here is a side-by-side comparison of omega 3 and MCT oil, including their benefits, drawbacks, dosage, and timing suggestions. 

Omega 3MCT Oil
What is it?Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid you can only obtain through your diet. It is typically found in fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. It is a polyunsaturated fat.Liquid supplement made from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of fat found in coconut oil and palm oils, butter, milk and cheese. MCTs are a type of saturated fat.
Benefits?
Drawbacks?
  • A fishy taste in your mouth
  • Fishy breath
  • Stomach upset
  • Loose stools
  • Nausea
  • Expensive
  • Difficult to source a quality supplement
  • Require more thought and effort to incorporate into your diet
  • Gastrointestinal side effects
Dosage?There are dietary guidelines around omega 3 consumption. These include:
  • Minimum of 250–500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults. EPA and DHA are types of omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Most omega 3 supplements come in capsules which contain the recommended dose.
Dosage needs to be built up over time to minimize side effects. A typical dosing approach may look like:
  • 1 teaspoon a day for 1-3 to 3 days.
  • Build up to 2 teaspoons for the next 4-6 days.
  • Once your body tolerates that move to a tablespoon per day from day 7.
  • Increase incrementally from their to desired daily dose, without exceeding a maximum of 4-7 tablespoons a day.
TimingYou are able to take fish oil whenever it suits you best. However for improved efficacy consider timing your omega 3:
  • When eating Omega 3 oil is likely to be absorbed better when consumed with other fats.
  • Be consistent with when you have, because sustained use over time is when you’ll experience the benefit.
The main considerations to have when using MCT oil are:
  • Split up multiple serves of MCTs across the day.
  • Have it 15-20 minutes before a workout instead of carbs for an energy boost.
  • Use it during periods of fasting for energy and as an appetite suppressant.
Who should take it?Providing Omega 3 is consumed within recommended doses, it is suitable for the average person.

For those with underlying medical conditions, it is best to consult a medical professional to ensure it is safe to incorporate as part of your diet.
MCT oil should be considered by those looking to support a keto diet and fat loss goals.

For those with underlying medical conditions, it is best to consult a medical professional to ensure it is safe to incorporate as part of your diet.

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, omega 3 oil can support many pursuits in health and fitness. It is cost-effective, easy to incorporate into your diet, and has many scientifically-backed benefits. You do not need to take MCT oil as well as omega 3 when you are focusing on general health. 

That said, where you are using MCT oil to supplement your lower carb diet and weight management goals, including omega 3 would serve you in achieving goals because of the positive effects it has on your body. 

Other 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.