MCT OIL - The Jack-of-All-Trades in the Supplement World
Of all the supplements bodybuilders use, most questions seem to be about MCT oil. What is it? How does it work?
Can it help me gain weight? Does it help in losing fat or cause a gain in fat? The answer to these questions is
MCT oil is the most versatile supplement you can use, whether your goal is gaining muscle, losing fat or increasing
endurance. Whatever your goal is, MCT oil fits the bill. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about
this supplement, with guidelines on how to use it in your program.
What is MCT Oil?
MCT oil is a specially engineered fat which contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). It provides twice the
energy of protein and carbohydrate (8.3 calories per gram versus four) and is absorbed into the bloodstream as
rapidly as glucose. MCT oil is preferentially used as fuel for energy instead of being stored as bodyfat. As an
added benefit, MCT oil has a thermogenic effect because it is converted to energy very rapidly. In short, it is
an extremely concenfluted source of calories that is rapidly absorbed and metabolized for energy by the body.
How Can MCT Oil be Used in a Muscle-Building Program?
MCT oil is a key supplement if your goal is building muscle mass for three major reasons. First, it helps spare
protein from being used as an energy source and, therefore, your aminos get used for muscle building. This is
because some of the energy from MCT oil is converted by the liver into ketone bodies which are used as easily as
glucose for fuel. Thus, these ketone bodies replace some of the amino acids used in metabolism and leave them for
use in building mass. MCT oil also decreases catabolism of skeletal muscle protein. The efficient utilization of
ketones as fuel improves as the body adapts to MCT oil. In other words, your body gets better at using this supplement
as it gets used to it. Thus, using it consistently will allow you to get more out of it when you need it.
Second, MCT oil can be used to help increase your caloric intake. Gradually increasing calories builds your
metabolism so that your body can move into an anabolic state. For several weeks, concentrate on increasing your
calories by 300 to 500 a day to build muscle. Using MCT oil along with protein or carbohydrate powders if your
goal is to gain at least one pound of muscle a week. (As you gain weight, monitor your body composition once a week
to make sure you are gaining lean mass and not bodyfat.)
The third way MCT oil helps is by having a possible effect on growth hormone levels. Researchers in Spain have
proven MCFAs can cause more than a 900-percent increase in GH levels - a peak is reached two hours after ingesting
it and is maintained for over three hours. If you are eating every two to three hours like you should be and
supplementing with MCT oil, you can keep your GH level naturally elevated all day.
In theory this lets you have the muscle-building actions of GH and insulin without suffering the fat-building
effects which usually accompany insulin. I think it is easy then to understand why MCT oil is the perfect supplement
to a muscle-building diet.
What Role does MCT Oil Play in Fat-Loss?
Whereas conventional fats, such as oils and margarine, are prone to be stored as bodyfat, MCT oil is transported
directly from the small intestine to the liver. MCT oil is retained by the liver where it is rapidly metabolized to
produce energy so it has very little tendency to contribute to bodyfat stores.
As noted above, MCT oil provides the caloric density of fat, but without the tendency to store it as fat. In fact,
medium-chain triglycerides have been demonstrated to contribute less to bodyfat accumulation than conventional fats
or even carbohydrates. This is largely because excess calories from medium-chain triglycerides are converted to
body heat in thermogenesis. Use MCT oil as a replacement for carbohydrate fuel to help you lose bodyfat. Used in
this manner, MCT oil lets you use a variation of the low-carb, fat-loss strategy, but without the corresponding
loss of energy.
Eating fewer carbs alters your insulin-to-glucagon ratio. When carbs are in short supply, the hormone glucagon is
released. It stimulates the body to start burning fat for energy. By supplementing with MCT oil, you have a source
of energy to carry you through the low-carb times. To be successful with this approach you must also control the
ratio of protein and carbohydrate to fat in your diet. This will help balance the release of insulin and glucagon.
The levels of these hormones are entirely determined by diet, so you can exert great control over them by carefully
regulating what you eat. Among its many functions, insulin is involved in fat storage (such as during excessive
carbohydrate consumption), and glucagon is involved in unlocking fat stores. To control the actions of these
hormones in favor of fat loss, you first want to meet your protein requirement by eating Ito 1.5 grams of protein
per pound of bodyweight per day. Next, limit conventional fat calories to five percent of your total diet. Last,
make up the remainder of your calories with a combination of carbs (including maltodextrin) and MCT oil. For fat
loss, you generally want to limit the carb-to-protein ratio and use more MCT oil in your diet.
By replacing regular dietary fat with MCT oil you can achieve a lower bodyfat level than you dreamed possible. Before
contests, bodybuilders also supplement MCT oil for starchy carbs. Dietary manipulation of carbs and proteins, along
with the use of MCT oil, helps shift the metabolism into fat-burning mode.
Will MCT Oil Aid in Physical Endurance?
You bet. When you want to increase cellular energy, the first thing to think about is MCT oil. It is almost a miracle
when it comes to delivering energy to cells. Remember, MCT oil harnesses the energy density of fat but is able to
deliver that energy as rapidly as glucose. Thus, it is an immediate energy source that will get burned before the
body has time to store it.
If you compete in endurance events, it's important to point out that MCT oil can even spare glucose. Medium-chain
fatty acids are diffused into the mitochondria (the energy factor of the cell) very quickly, and are burned
immediately for energy at the same time as glucose. This spares glucose, thus helping your glycogen stores last
longer. The longer your glycogen stores last, the longer you can train before fatigue sets in. Some of the endurance
athletes with whom we work have mixed MCT oil with carb and protein supplements for use as a prerace beverage and
have reported significantly increased energy levels during competition. For energy, nothing can touch MCT oil.
How Much MCT Oil Should be Used for Best Results?
Begin by taking one half tablespoon of MCT oil with each meal for three days. Mix it directly into your food. Do
not take it on an empty stomach. Increase your usage to one tablespoon per meal for an additional three days. I
recommend increasing in increments of half tablespoons. Maintain the new level for three days and then increase
again until your maximum usage level, based on your caloric intake, is reached. These recommendations are effective
for most people. You may have to adjust them, however, if you experience abdominal cramping or diarrhea, which may
result from MCT oil's rapid absorption. Cut back on usage, if you experience these effects, until your tolerance
improves. During hard training, many athletes have found doses as high as two to three tablespoons per meal to be