It’s been more than 10 years since health podcaster Dave Asprey introduced his now-legendary Bulletproof Coffee. Inspired by the energy and focus he experienced after drinking yak butter tea during a trip to Tibet in 2004, Asprey spent years researching and refining his own drink that eventually became known as Bulletproof Coffee.
Asprey’s idea behind Bulletproof Coffee is to replace a traditional high-carb breakfast with a high-fat, low-carb coffee drink, in the hopes of improving mental clarity, reducing hunger and providing steady, long-lasting energy. To make the drink, one brews a cup of coffee using low-mold coffee beans and pours it in blender with two tablespoons of grass-fed butter (higher in omega-3 fatty acids than traditional butter) and two tablespoons of medium-chain triglyceride oil—otherwise known as MCT oil.
While the fad of mixing butter into coffee has faded, the practice of adding MCT oil to one’s morning brew — and even just taking it by the spoonful — shows no signs of flagging.
What is MCT oil?
MCT oil, short for medium-chain triglyceride oil, is a type of fat that’s often derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. While most fats we consume are long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), MCTs, as the name suggests, are shorter. This difference in size has a dramatic impact on how the body metabolizes them. Because MCTs are shorter, they can be broken down more rapidly and so are a great source of energy. But that’s just the tip of the iceburg in terms of the benefits that come from making MCT oil part of your daily diet.
How does MCT oil speed weight loss?
Another startlingly beneficial characteristic of MCT oil: It’s unique among healthy fat sources in that it “tells” the body to transition from burning sugar to burning fat (the key to success on a keto diet). “MCTs are broken down rapidly and go straight to the liver,” explains University of Pittsburgh nutrition specialist Joe Maroon, MD. “There, they’re either immediately burned for energy or turned into ketones,” compounds made from fat that act as fuel for the body’s cells in the absence of sugar.
“There’s no question that taking MCT oil enhances your ability to switch into fat-burning mode,” confirms renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, best-selling author of nine books, including Drop Acid. Indeed, it can help mimic the effects of a keto diet — without cutting carbs! “If you have adequate MCTs in your diet, you can generate the same ketone power as you would by fasting or eating in the traditional keto fashion,” asserts Steven R. Gundry, MD, author of Unlocking the Keto Code. What’s more, the body absorbs MCTs so quickly, “it causes a surge in both ketone production and fat-burning,” adds Dr. Maroon.
MCT is a surefire slimmer, says New York Times bestselling author and certified nutritional consultant Naomi Whittel, CNC, author of Glow15: A Science-Based Plan to Lose Weight, Revitalize Your Skin, and Invigorate Your Life. Her company is a leader in an unusually pure formulation of the oil. “MCT oil is scientifically proven to eliminate cravings, raise metabolism and target weight gained in our midsections,” she says. It basically reverses all the fattening problems triggered by age-related hormonal changes.
Best of all: A morning dose of MCT oil dials down hunger and eliminates cravings. “That’s because MCTs suppress the production of ghrelin, a hormone that tells us when to eat,” explains Dr. Maroon. “As a result, people adding MCTs to their diet experience a marked decrease in hunger. Even the biggest appetites shrink dramatically!”
The best MCT oil for weight loss
MCT oil can be derived from either coconut or palm kernel oils, but the experts we spoke to suggest selecting a brand that’s derived from coconut oil. The reason? Women report that this type of supplement is less likely to cause stomach upset. For an even more effective MCT oil, Dr. Maroon offers some additional advice: “Look for a product that is labeled ‘creamy’ or ‘emulsified.’ Studies show these are even more quickly absorbed for added energy.” What’s more, research at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec reveals that “creamy” MCTs boost fat burn by up to 200%. For an extra delicious add-in, try Naomi Whittel’s Creamy MCT Vanilla Coconut Swirl.
Other benefits of MCT oil: increased mental focus + anti-aging
When Dave Asprey rolled out his Bulletproof Coffee, his main focus was the the way including MCT oil in your morning brew dramatically improves mental clarity. And in the decade since, millions of people have experienced the almost heightened focus you seem to effortlessly achieve just by starting your day with MCT oil. “By and large, this is a terrific way to increase mental clarity, balance energy and improve mood,” concurs Dr. Perlmutter.
Other health investigators have focused on the ways in which MCT oil can reverse the aging process. “MCT oil has been shown to promote autophagy, a natural process your body uses to heal wear and tear to its cells,” explains Whittel. Autophagy even makes malfunctioning cells self-destruct, so the body has the opportunity of replacing them with new ones. “Your skin, your metabolism, your immunity — every cell and system is refreshed!”
How to incorporate MCT oil into your day
Whether you opt to get your MCTs from MCT oil itself or from coconut oil (one of the richest natural sources of MCTs), the best way to take advantage of the benefits is to add it to your morning brew (coffee or tea) and drink it on an empty stomach. Skip breakfast and fast until noon.
Find your optimal dose
While experts agree that MCTs powerfully boost weight loss, they also agree that more isn’t necessarily better — especially at first. Taking too much MCT oil too fast can lead to nausea, cramps and other uncomfortable GI issues. “Don’t jump in by taking two tablespoons the first day,” cautions Dr. Perlmutter. “Instead, start with a teaspoon once or twice a day, then build up, adding another teaspoon every three days until you get to a tablespoon.” If you experience symptoms at any point, simply step back your dose—your body may need more time to adjust to -digesting the medium-chain triglycerides.
Get plenty of protein for lunch and dinner
For best results, experts advise building your lunch and dinner around 4 oz. of protein, like eggs, chicken, ground turkey, flank steak and salmon, before turning your attention to sides. Dr. Perlmutter recommends loading the rest of your plate with a variety of fiber-rich, non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli and eggplant that have been cooked in healthy fats, like coconut oil or ghee. Incorporating a daily dose of MCT oil into this basic food formula helps ensure you’re hitting your daily fat quota, dials back appetite and makes it easier to avoid grains, sugars and processed fats that can slow weight loss.
Read on for even more ways to incorporate MCT oil throughout your day:
Delicious MCT oil meals that speed your metabolism
BREAKFAST: Blend 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon MCT oil, 1 scoop collagen peptides (protein power with anti-aging benefits, found in health food stores), 1 tablespoon chia, half an avocado, and half a cup of frozen berries.
SNACK: To make “mayo,” beat two egg yolks and two teaspoons Dijon; slowly add one-third cup of MCT oil. When thick, add one teaspoon vinegar, one teaspoon lemon juice, and two-thirds cup MCT oil. Use a quarter cup to devil six hard-cooked eggs.
DINNER: Peel and slice one jicama; steam eight minutes. Cool and pat dry. Toss with two tablespoons MCT oil and season with salt. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Enjoy with a grass-fed burger.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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