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MCT is available in two main forms: oil and powder. If you’re interested in incorporating it into your supplement regime, trying to figure out which one to take might be a little confusing.
Should you take MCT oil or power? MCT oil provides 13g of MCTs per tablespoon, which is more concentrated than the 7g MCT powder provides. Due to its higher concentration, MCT oil can cause digestive discomfort, making MCT powder the more preferred option for most as it’s less likely to cause stomach upset.
That being said, MCT oil and powder are both derived from coconut (or palm) oils, sharing the same health benefits and providing an efficient energy source for your body and brain.
In this article, I’ll cover:
- What MCT oil and MCT powder are
- Key differences between MCT oil and MCT powder
- What to look for in your MCT oil and powder varieties
- Recommendations for best MCT oil and powder varieties
Quick Overview: MCT Oil vs Powder
Let’s take a look at MCT oil and MCT powder side by side before we put these two supplements in the ring and determine a winner.
|MCT Oil||Liquid supplement made from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are a type of fat.|
|MCT Powder||Powdered supplement made from MCT oil with certain binding agents, usually a starch.|
Benefits & Drawbacks
|MCT Oil||● More grams of MCT per tablespoon serve. |
● Can have it without needing to mix it.
● Can be mixed with other liquids.
|● Difficult to travel with. |
● Gastrointestinal discomfort associated with use.
|MCT Powder||● Easier on the digestive system.|
● Convenient to travel with.
● Adds a smooth texture to drinks and baked goods.
● Mixes well with other powdered supplements.
|● May contain poor quality fillers that cause stomach upset. |
● Some powders may clump.
● Less grams of MCT per serve.
Dosage & Timing
|MCT Oil||Dosage needs to be built up over time. A typically dosing approach may look like:||Timing considerations for MCT oil and powder aren’t too different. |
The main considerations to have when using either are:
|MCT Powder||Typical recommended doses of MCT powders are generally 1 to 2 scoops of MCT powder a day. Though could be up to |
1 scoop of MCT powder contains around 7g of MCTs.
It is suggested to those who have never used MCT powder to try a half scoop first before moving on to a full scoop.
How to Mix?
|Type||How to Mix|
|MCT Oil||Best taken on its own, mixed in some liquids of choice or as a salad dressing.|
|MCT Powder||Best used in hot or cold drinks, baked goods or mixed in with other powdered supplements.|
11 Differences Between MCT Oil vs Powder
Let’s break down how MCT oil and MCT powder compare head to head against the key following criteria:
- Health benefits
- Side effects
- Nutritional Value
Winner: This one is a draw.
Regardless of whether you’re using MCT oil or MCT powder, providing it’s a high quality supplement, you’re likely to experience the benefits associated with MCTs using either.
MCT oil is a liquid that typically comes in medium to large bottles. This makes it inconvenient to carry around and inconvenient to portion out servings to have on the go.
Winner: MCT powder.
MCT powder won’t leak and it’s easier to portion out serving sizes when you’re on the go or mix in with other powdered supplements in a protein shaker, ready to use.
This makes it much more convenient than MCT oil which is messy and difficult to portion out travel size serves or carry around a bottle of oil
MCT oil or powder both have the potential to be messy. We’ve all had a powdered supplement explosion in our gym bag, not fun to clean up. However, the big difference here is, when you are traveling with a liquid supplement and it explodes in your bag, you can’t really dust it off or wipe things down, it wets anything and everything it touches.
This is tenfold when what’s leaking everywhere is oil. Oils stain and even ruin clothes and the cleaning process is much more intense.
Winner: MCT powder.
If you’re likely to have your MCTs on the run, a powder will serve you better, because it is less likely to leak but if it does, it will be much easier to clean up. The same cannot be said for your MCT oil.
MCT oil is harsher on your gastrointestinal tract because it isn’t digested by your stomach. This could lead to you experiencing nausea, bloating or even diarrhea. Due to these side effects, careful attention to dosing and consumption needs to occur when using MCT oil, especially for the unseasoned user.
MCT powder on the other hand, is actually evidenced to cause less of these digestive side effects. MCT powder is made with certain binding agents which can make it more tolerable for your body to process.
Winner: MCT powder.
It is hard to disregard the science this round. If it is a choice between possibly getting the shits or not, the sensible choice is going with the thing where you’re more likely not to get the shits.
The texture is subjective to your palate and in the case of MCT oil and MCT powder, will come down to how you are using it.
If you are dry scooping MCT powder, then a mouthful of it probably isn’t going to feel great, and you may be inclined to have a teaspoon of MCT oil instead, which as a liquid, is going to go down smoother.
However, in considering the texture your MCT oil or powder may bring to something, MCT powder is more likely to create a creamier, smoother texture when added to a smoothie or coffee than an MCT oil would. Oil doesn’t always mix well with other liquids can can separate itself from other ingredients.
Winner: This one is a draw.
Both can provide a smooth texture and be easy to consume as a result, depending on how you choose to use them.
Protein shakes, smoothies, coffees, and baked goods are the main things MCTs are often mixed into, and generally speaking, MCT powder is more likely to mix in better than straight MCT oil would.
MCT oil could separate from other liquids and so instead of drinking a protein shake with MCTs you’re more likely to drink a mouthful or oil and then a mouthful of shake, which is unpleasant. A powder on the other hand won’t cause this separation and will mix in well and even add more of a creaminess to your drink.
MCT oil will work in baked goods but will have more of an impact on the density of what you produce, so you’ll need to be more careful with the ratios used.
Winner: MCT powder.
MCT powder has greater versatility with how you can mix it and it is more likely to complement what you’re mixing it with too.
MCT powder is newer to the scene compared to MCT oil. As a result studies into specific effects and benefits of MCT powder are limited, with most research on MCTs being conducted on MCT oil.
Of note though, there was one specific study undertaken on MCT powder, which did indicate it had fewer side effects to MCT oil.
Winner: MCT Oil.
Research on MCT oil has been undertaken and results and conclusions on the efficacy and benefits of MCTs are derived from those studies.
On the other hand, with research into MCT powder limited, its benefits are inferred given it is made from oil.
Both MCT oil and MCT powder are not naturally occurring supplements and have specific production processes.
MCT oil is derived from other oils like coconut and palm oils which are composed of certain MCTs. So the production process extracts MCTs from other oil sources to create a pure MCT oil supplement.
MCT powder goes a step further. It is made by combining MCT oil with binding agents, which can vary depending on the manufacturer, and then spray dried to convert it into a powder.
Winner: MCT oil.
The binding agents that can be used to make MCT powder increase the potential for the supplement to include additives with no nutritional content, or ingredients that dilute the quality of the MCTs.
MCT oil is 100% MCTs per serve because there is nothing else contained. This roughly translates to 13-14 grams of fat and 113 calories per tablespoon serving.
MCT powder is usually about 70% MCTs per serve. It is less than MCT oil because of its other ingredients which turn it into a powder. A tablespoon of MCT powder contains approximately 7-10grams of fat and is around 67-100 calories.
Not all calories in MCT powder will be derived from fat, some will come from the 2-3 grams of carbs that can be found in the powdered supplement.
Winner: MCT oil.
If you are wanting to maximize the amount of MCTs you are having per serve, then MCT oil comes out on top, because it is 100% MCTs with every serve.
Both MCT powder and MCT oil are typically flavorless. However, some MCT oils may have a hint of coconut flavor by virtue of MCTs being made from coconut oil. There isn’t much you can do to alter the taste of the natural oil.
Some MCT powder supplements have certain ingredients that add a bit of flavor to it so that it enhances the drink or baked recipe it is coupled with.
Winner: This is a draw.
Generally speaking, both supplements are flavorless and won’t skew the taste of the food or drink it is being mixed with too much.
For a quality MCT oil, derived from coconut oil and guaranteeing purity of product, it could cost you between $0.70 to $1.00 per ml and with a typical tablespoon serve around 13-15ml, you are looking at between $9-14 per serve.
For a quality MCT powder though, the average cost of a 10-11g scoop/tablespoon serving across various similar supplements ranges between $3-5. However, a serving of MCT powder is contains only 7g of MCTs compared to MCT oil which will contain around 13g.
Winner: This is a close, but MCT oil takes this round.
When you consider cost per ml and MCTs per serve, MCT oil seems to be the better option. They are, however, both expensive supplements, so just be sure you need them or know how to use them before investing.
Both MCT oil and MCT powder have strengths, weaknesses, and similarities. If you’re new to using MCT, have a sensitive stomach, and are often on the go, MCT powder is probably going to suit you well, but if you’re a seasoned user and purist at heart, you probably want to stick with the MCT oil.
MCT Oil vs Powder: Which One Should You Take?
Whether you should take MCT oil or powder is going to come down to how you want to consume your MCT oil, your diet, and your experience using the supplement.
Who Should Take MCT Oil?
MCT oil is best used by the more experienced user.
You need to appreciate that your body will take time to adapt to processing the supplement and that going all in too quickly will result in significant stomach distress with side effects including bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. However, where you are comfortable with using MCT oil, it is the purest form of MCTs and can be quickly ingested to support your diet goals.
To minimize gastrointestinal side effects you need to introduce MCT oil to your diet gradually, increasing the dose over time until reaching the serving size and building on the amount of serves you want in a day. If you lack the patience and consistency to approach your MCT oil use like this, it may not be for you.
Where you are following a keto and low carb diet coupled with a fasting period, and you’re used to using MCT oil, a serve of this on rising or before a workout may provide you with energy to fuel workouts and assist in achieving ketosis.
Who Should Take MCT Powder?
MCT powder will serve those who are looking for a convenient way to incorporate MCTs into their diets. Being a powder it is portable, mixes easily into other powdered supplements like protein and creatine, and creates a creamy, smooth texture for those looking to level up their bulletproof coffee.
If you are susceptible to stomach sensitivities, and you don’t want to risk the possible side effects associated with MCT oil, then taking MCT powder is a great alternative.
MCT powders can include 2-3g of carbs per serving, so where you are trying to promote ketone production or incorporating fasting as part of your keto diet then, MCT powder may not strictly align with the principles of that diet. However, with appropriate planning, the small amount of carbs still allows MCT powder to be incorporated into any low carb diet you may follow
MCT Oil vs Powder: What To Look For?
Whether you are looking for an MCT oil or an MCT powder, ensure your supplement of choice includes the best MCTs. Research has suggested that C8 and C10 are the better MCTs so check the ingredients panel of your supplement to ensure one or both of these MCTs are included.
Aside from that there’s a couple of other considerations you should have when selecting an MCT oil or powder.
For MCT oil you want to consider whether:
- It has been derived from coconut oil, because coconut oil contains a higher concentration of the C8 and C10 MCTs. Some MCT oils are made from palm oil or a mixture of palm and coconut oil and these are typically cheaper.
For MCT powder the most important considerations are:
- Check the ingredients panel to ensure MCTs make up at least 70% of the ingredients. This ensures that the majority of your powder is MCTs.
- Check the binding agents used and opt for powders that include acacia fiber, an easily digestible calcium powder.
MCT Oil vs Powder: Recommendations
If you’re wanting to try an MCT supplement, here are my top picks for the best MCT oil and best MCT powder:
- MCT oil: it is hard to go past this Bulletproof’s staple MCT Oil. It is flavorless, derived 100% from coconut oil and backed by countless user reviews.
- MCT powder: Bulletproof MCT creamer powder is an impressive supplement available in a few flavor varieties. Made by coupling butter and MCTs with acacia fiber as the bonding agent, it will level up your bulletproof coffee or breakfast smoothie.
The Bottom Line…
How you want to take your MCTs is going to come down to:
- Knowing your medical needs;
- Your experience with MCTs; and
- How it fits into your diet and nutritional goal.
Feel free to reach out us, if you have questions on how MCT use relates specifically to your circumstances.
Other MCT Oil Resources
- Does MCT Oil Cause Headaches? (What The Science Says)
- Can You Use MCT Oil If Not On Keto Diet? (Yes, Here’s Why)
- Can You Mix MCT Oil With Apple Cider Vinegar? (Pros & Cons)
- Can I Take MCT Oil & Collagen Together? (Pros & Cons)
- Can Too Much MCT Oil Make You Fat? (Dos & Don’ts)
- Can I Take MCT Oil At Night? (A Nutritionist Explains)
- Can I Take MCT Oil On An Empty Stomach? What Not To Do
- 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.