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Your alarm clock is blaring that deafening tone again. It’s 6 am and the sun barely peaks over the horizon. With eyes half open, you stumble into the kitchen and flip the switch on the coffee maker.

You struggle to focus until you finally taste the first sip of piping hot coffee. Then, a bolt of energy charges through your body. With each sip of warm, aromatic coffee, the sun begins to rise, the birds begin to sing, and all feels right in the world. There’s a reason why 83%Fernau2013 of American adults drink coffee. It works.

Although coffee can stand alone, there’s one ingredient that can make it even more powerful.

Lots of people choose to add sugar or creamer, but the addition of MCT oil can really kick your morning beverage into overdrive. MCT oil can make you feel satiated, increase weight loss, and enhance cognition (more on these later).

Let’s dive into the science of how MCT and coffee can work together to help you reach your weight loss goals.

What are MCTs?

It’s always a good idea to start with the basics. MCTs are medium-chain triglycerides; triglycerides are three fatty acid groups bound to a single glycerol backbone. They are a form of fat in the body serving as a source of energy between meals.

Often, the term “triglycerides” has a negative connotation. High levels of them are linked to elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease.Miller2011 But triglycerides are not inherently negative—in fact, MCTs are healthy fats with many potential health benefits.

Those fatty acids are bound together with a certain number of carbon atoms. The length of these carbon chains determines which category a fatty acid will fit into.

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears? MCTs aren’t too short or too long. In fact, they’re just right...for potentially reducing hunger and boosting energy.

So the carbon chain length assigns each fatty acid a category; hence the "medium" in medium-chain triglycerides.

  • Short-chain fatty acids (or triglycerides): composed of 5 or less carbon atoms
  • Medium-chain fatty acids (or triglycerides): composed of 6 to 12 carbon atoms
  • Long-chain fatty acids (or triglycerides): composed of 13 to 21 carbon atoms

Each of the fatty acid groups serve different purposes within the body.

Short-chain triglycerides are mainly formed when bacteria in your gut ferment fiber. These fats improve digestive health and provide cellular energy within the colon.Cook1998

Long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) can commonly be found in foods such as extra virgin olive oil, soybean oil, fish, nuts, avocado, and meat. LCTs can have some benefits of their own. Omega-3 is an LCT shown to be beneficial for heart health. But LCTs don’t have the same rapid energy capabilities as MCTs do.

If you’re practicing a ketogenic diet, then MCTs stand apart from the other types of fatty acids. But be warned—within the MCT family, there are several subcategories based upon the number of carbon atoms, each with its own benefits, depending on your goals.

Types of MCTs

MCTs are the most intriguing fatty acid for ketogenic dieters because they can quickly be used for ketone production. However, don’t be confused; not all MCTs are created equal. There are four distinct categories of MCTs, each having between six and twelve carbon atoms.

Caproic acid (C6) is the shortest of the MCT family, containing six carbons. Anecdotal research has shown it can be converted to ketones, but at the same time can cause stomach distress.

Capric acid (C10) contains ten carbon atoms and can improve the immune system while also providing antibacterial benefits.Bergsson2001 In one research study, C10 was able to destroy strains of Candida albicans, a yeast causing digestive gut issues.Bergsson2001

There are four types of MCTs including Caproic Acid, Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, and Lauric Acid. Caproic acid may cause stomach distress. Caprylic Acid is the highest quality MCT. Capric Acid provides immune system benefits. Lauric Acid has been shown to have antimicrobial benefits,

Lauric acid (C12) has twelve carbon atoms, but acts more like an LCT since it borders a medium-chain and long-chain triglyceride. Studies have shown it can provide antimicrobial properties. In a study performed on people with acne, lauric acid more effectively treated acne than benzoyl peroxide.Nakatsuji2009

Maybe you recognized we skipped a number in the pattern. We left caprylic acid, better known to the world as C8, as last on our list because it’s often called the most ketogenic fat. It contains eight carbon atoms and can be converted to ketones faster than any other MCT, which is why most consider it to be the highest-quality MCT.

When we discuss MCTs throughout this article, we will mainly be referring to C8 because it’s the most ketogenic of all medium-chain triglycerides.

How Do MCTs Work?

Now that you know MCTs are unique based on their chemical structure, let’s look at what really makes them special—how the body processes them.

While most fats travel slowly through the gut and into the bloodstream, MCTs can rapidly be used for energy both in the form of fat and rapid ketone production.Takeuchi2008 They go straight from the gut into the liver (where ketones are produced).

One study was performed on nine participants between the ages of 22 and 46 with each receiving two 20mL doses with varying concentrations of MCT oil including: coconut oil (3% C8, 5% C10), classic MCT oil (55% C8, 35% C10), C8 (>95% C8), C10 (>95% C10), or coconut oil mixed 50:50 with C8-C10 or C8.Vandenberghe2017

The first dose was administered with breakfast, while the second was given at noon with no food. Blood was sampled every 30 minutes over an eight-hour period and the MCT with the highest C8 concentration resulted in the greatest number of plasma ketones.Vandenberghe2017 Based on the given research, we can reasonably determine C8 has the highest net ketogenic effect of all MCTs.

Why Put MCT in Your Coffee?

By simply adding MCT oil or powder to coffee, you may experience improved satiety, enhanced cognition, weight loss, and a reduced risk of heart disease.

MCTs in coffee can help increase weight loss by increasing energy expenditure, can reduce cardiovascular risk, and can improve cognition.

Before jumping into those benefits, let’s first explore the lifeblood of many peoples’ mornings: coffee.

Caffeine Benefits

Did you ever stop to think why people have consumed coffee worldwide for thousands of years?

Legend has it, sometime in the ninth century, an Ethiopian man discovered coffee after noticing how excited his goats were after eating the coffee plant. One-thousand plus years later, coffee has stood the test of time.

The taste. The smell. The look. And most importantly—the caffeine.

The world has had a love affair with coffee for countless generations. Full-strength coffee is brewed around the clock. A review looked at double-blind, placebo-controlled trials published over a 15-year period and determined the beneficial range of caffeine consumption to be between 38mg and 400mg.Ruxton2008 In other words, somewhere in the neighborhood of ½ cup to 4 cups of coffee per day.

Caffeine is a cognitive booster, that can increase alertness, attention, memory and mood.Johnson1990,Smith1992,Smith1993,Smith1994,Smith2013,Leathwood1982

The caffeine from coffee can also increase increase fat loss.

One study was performed on ten lean women and ten obese women over two 24-hour periods.Bracco1995 On one occasion they consumed caffeinated coffee while on the other they consumed decaffeinated coffee. The result was an increased fat burning of 29% in lean women and 10% in obese women. The study leads us to believe caffeine can have fat-burning effects in all populations regardless of body fat percentage.

So, it seems, the caffeine from coffee can help improve weight loss. Combining it with MCT oil or powder may even be able to put your fat loss over the top.

MCTs Can Increase Weight Loss Capabilities

Eating more fat to lose weight might be counterintuitive, but MCTs have been shown to improve weight loss.

A study was performed on 49 overweight men and women age 19 - 50.StOnge2008 They consumed 18g - 24g per day of MCT oil or olive oil as part of a 16-week weight loss program. The results of the study showed a greater loss of fat mass and trunk fat mass with MCT oil when compared to olive oil.StOnge2008 This suggests that MCT improves weight loss when used as part of a structured weight loss plan.

One of the reasons MCT may increase weight loss is due to an increased resting energy expenditure. A review on MCT trials looked at various studies based around MCT vs. LCT consumption.Stonge2002 In one particular study they looked at lean and obese men. Subjects consumed a meal containing 15% energy from protein, 55% energy from carbohydrates, and 30% energy from fat. The result was an increased energy expenditure of 48% in lean individuals and 65% in obese individuals.

Another study looked at MCT consumption along with meals.Dulloo1996 Subjects were given varying concentrations of a MCT / LCT dose, each containing anywhere from 0g - 30g of MCTs. Energy expenditure over a 24-hour period increased by 5%. This means their bodies burned 5% more calories all other factors remaining equal.

The results of these studies illustrate that all fat sources are not created equal when it comes to fat loss. MCTs have better lipid profiles, increasing energy expenditure compared to other fats.

The benefits of MCTs go beyond just weight loss. They may also help reduce the risks of other health issues.

May Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Another benefit of adding MCTs to your coffee is potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A study was performed on 24 overweight men who followed a diet including 40% energy from fat in the form of MCT oil or equivalent quantities of olive oil.StOnge2003 In subjects consuming MCT oil, LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased by nearly 14%, whereas olive oil did not produce any statistically significant change. As a byproduct of healthy cholesterol levels, we can reasonably deduce that MCT may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Of course, cardiovascular disease is caused by a constellation of factors, so it’s impossible to cement MCT as a preventative measure. But when it comes to cardiovascular disease, any benefit may help reduce the risk of a potentially bad diagnosis.

Cholesterol levels aren’t the only cardiovascular marker that may improve with MCT use. Diabetics may also benefit from MCT use.

A group of type 2 diabetics were given either MCT oil or LCTs in the form of corn oil over the course of 90 days. No other dietary changes were made during this time period. The MCT group experienced reduced body weight, waist circumference, and better controlled insulin levels compared to the LCT group.Han2007 The study suggests MCT is a low-cost method to help diabetic individuals lose weight and better control their insulin levels.

Can Help Improve Cognitive Function

Many people cite mental clarity as a reason they consume caffeine (in the form of coffee) daily. Can MCT boost that effect?

A study, performed on people with type 1 diabetes, may help us arrive at an answer. Over the course of two sessions, each group received either medium-chain triglyceride drink or a placebo drink before performing a series of cognitive tests. Consumption of MCT prevented performance declines in tests related to short-term memory, verbal memory, and attention span.Page2009

The results showcase MCT having the ability to potentially improve cognitive function without affecting adrenergic hormonal or symptomatic responses. This might be due to MCT’s ability to readily be converted into ketones, a highly-efficient brain fuel.

Here’s How to Put MCTs in Your Coffee

We’ve gone through the chemical structure of MCTs. You know how your body processes them, what makes them so special, and why C8 is the MCT you should seek out. Now it’s time to actually put all that knowledge to action.

Generally speaking, most butter coffee recipes call for three main ingredients—coffee, organic grass-fed butter, and an MCT-based product.

Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you can use MCT oil in your daily cup of joe.

The image shows three pictures of coffee: one black, one with a little cream, and one with heavy cream.

Butter Coffee

You may have heard of the ever-popular butter coffee; but did you know it’s not just butter and coffee? MCT oil is added in there too, playing a role with the high-fat butter to provide even more satiation and help you reach daily macronutrient goals for fat consumption.

MCT oil and coffee work together synergistically along with organic grass-fed butter to create a powerful beverage designed to help kickstart your day.

Keto Power Coffee

This simple recipe is an easy way to make an MCT-based coffee drink for the first time.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz hot coffee
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (regular or vanilla)
  • 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate MCT oil powder
  • 1 tsp organic grass-fed butter

Directions:

  1. Brew a cup of hot coffee with your favorite coffee beans
  2. Combine coffee, almond milk, MCT Oil Powder and grass-fed butter into a blender
  3. Puree for about 10 seconds or until frothy
  4. Pour into your mug and enjoy

You butter believe this morning cup of coffee will get you firing on all cylinders throughout the day.

Creamy Cocoa Butter Coffee

If you’re a fan of chocolate, you’ll love this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz hot coffee
  • 1 scoop chocolate MCT oil powder
  • 1 tbsp organic unsalted butter
  • ½ scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Brew a hot cup of coffee with your favorite coffee beans
  2. Combine coffee, MCT Oil Powder, butter, protein powder and heavy cream into a blender
  3. Puree for about 15 seconds or until it reaches your desired consistency
  4. Pour into your mug and enjoy

Not only will this recipe power you through your day, it will also help curb those sweet tooth cravings.

Using MCT Oil for Non-Coffee Drinkers

Let’s say coffee isn’t your cup of tea. If you’re a non-coffee drinker, you can still incorporate MCT oil into your daily diet. MCT oil can be used in a range of smoothie and salad recipes.

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can incorporate MCT oil without coffee.

MCT Detox Smoothie

If you struggle to get the daily dose of veggies in your diet, making a smoothie can help. Just add MCTs to your smoothie for an added dose of healthy fat to help with increased satiety.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 scoop MCT oil powder
  • 1 small beet
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Combine the ingredients into a blender
  2. Blend for approximately one minute or until it reaches desired consistency
  3. Pour into a glass and enjoy

Ensuring you get vital micronutrients in your diet can go a long way toward sustainable health. It’s important to ensure your macronutrients are balanced, but equally important is getting enough micronutrients. Smoothies are a great way of getting fiber.

If you don’t enjoy the taste of coffee, you can still reap the benefits of MCTs by employing different recipes. Take a few minutes out of the day to try out some of these recipes—your body will thank us later.

Jumpstart Your Day with MCT Oil in Coffee

Coffee with MCT oil is the perfect way to begin your day. As a low carb, high-fat drink, it can provide an array of health benefits for people on the keto diet (and even for those not on keto).

The boost of energy from coffee, along with the health benefits from MCT oil, can help improve satiety, enhance ketone production, may add a boost to your morning coffee ritual. The best part? It only takes a few minutes out of your day to concoct the perfect cup of joe with MCT Oil Powder. Try our recipes above or feel free to make some creations of your own.

Got any favorite recipes? Add them in the comments below.

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