Looking for a new oil to supplement your diet or put in your workout smoothies? You might be torn between two popular options: MCT oil and coconut oil.

Even though these two oil choices seem to be very alike on the surface, they’re actually best used for different things. They are comprised of different kinds of fatty acids and won’t work well if you confuse them. Therefore, it’s a good idea to figure out what each oil is used for and which will be best for your needs.

No need to do any tedious research, as we’ve done it for you!  This guide will break down everything you need to know about MCT oil vs coconut oil in detail. Let’s dive in.

MCT Oil In a Nutshell

Let’s begin with some definitions – what is an MCT?

An MCT is a medium-chain triglyceride, which is itself a kind of saturated medium-chain fatty acid. The “chain” refers to how many carbon atoms are connected together. Caproic acid is one example as it contains between 6 and 12 carbon atoms. Other MCTs include caprylic and capric acids.

This is important because MCT oil is made of MCT acids only, whereas coconut oil is made of both medium-chain and long-chain fatty acids.

MCT oil is a dietary supplement that people usually use to boost weight loss or to increase their energy. It comes from both coconut and palm kernel oil, although it shouldn’t be confused with regular coconut oil.

In most cases, MCT Oil has between 50 and 80% caprylic acid and between 20 and 50% capric acid, although other combinations do exist. Butter, cheese, and other typical food ingredients also include MCTs.

When taken as a supplement, MCT oil is a flavorless and easy-to-mix liquid, allowing people to combine it with their favorite beverages or foods, such as smoothies. Note that MCT oil isn’t very good for cooking since it has a low smoke point (and will produce a lot of smoke if you heat it up).

Many athletes like to use MCT oil since it’s directly absorbed by the liver, which allows your body to process the medium-chain fatty acids quickly for energy and improved brain function.

Benefits of MCT Oil

There have been many studies showing the potential benefits of MCT oil. These include:

Coconut Oil Overview

Coconut oil is another common supplement and body care ingredient. It comes from dried coconut meat, which is fatty acid-rich and which contains a distinct flavor and fragrance.

Coconut oil has a very different fatty acid profile from MCT oil. Take a look:

  • 8% caprylic acid
  • 7% capric acid
  • 49% lauric acid

That’s only 64%. Everything else is made up of long-chain acids, including stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and myristic acid.

This does mean that coconut oil naturally contains a little MCT oil. But the fact that extra oils are included as well means that coconut oil provides different benefits and effects. For example, coconut oil has a high smoking point, so many people use it as a cooking ingredient.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a favorite ingredient in both keto and paleo diets for these benefits and more:

In addition, coconut oil is commonly used in cooking and in skincare products. So you’ll find it in a wider variety of commercial solutions in addition to supplement mixes and powders.

Is MCT or Coconut Oil Better?

As you can see, neither oil is necessarily better than the other. Instead, it’s better to look at both MCT and coconut oil as distinct supplementary ingredients you should use for different needs.

Use MCT Oil For….

Due to its acid composition, MCT oil is a good choice for a few specific goals. For example, if you want to lose weight following the keto diet (which is naturally low in carbs already), MCT oil is a great complementary ingredient.

MCT oil can help you lose or burn away fat a little more efficiently, especially if you combine it with the fat-burning effects of the keto diet. Furthermore, MCT oil can help your body produce ketones, which maintains the keto diet’s titular ketosis state. 

Use Coconut Oil For…

On the other hand, coconut oil is a slightly more versatile choice that can be a great cooking ingredient if you want to avoid olive oil and other common lubricants. It’s a perfect choice for pan-frying and stir-frying since it has a really high smoking point – it’s 350°F compared to 302°F for MCT oil.

There are also lots of tasty recipes that include coconut oil as a primary ingredient.

Furthermore, coconut oil is a good choice for skin-related goals. It has a high percentage of lauric acid, which has antibacterial properties and can help to treat acne in skin cells or pores. Additionally, coconut oil can improve the symptoms of some atopic dermatitis.

All in all, coconut is a soothing and moisturizing oil best used for skincare and general dietary health instead of boosting energy or losing weight.

Summary

Ultimately, both of the above supplements are good picks for different reasons. Neither supplement should be chosen over the other in general – instead, it’s clear that they are both ideal supplements to add to your diet when necessary. We’d recommend trying them both with your lifestyle and seeing how you like them.

Companies like Dr. Livingood can help you reach all your supplement and dieting goals. Check out our resources and guides for more information!

Dr. Livingood, yes that is his real name, is the Founder of drlivingood.com natural health site and also the founder of Livingood Daily. He has authored two Amazon #1 Best Selling Books Livingood Daily and Make Food Simple. In 2007 after nearly losing his father to health conditions, Dr. Livingood was prompted to find a health care system to save his father’s life. Where medicine failed Dr. Livingood discovered solutions that got his father off 15 medications and overcame major heart and autoimmune conditions. As a Doctor of Natural Medicine and DC he now serves thousands of people in Morrisville, NC, and millions through his online and media presence. Dr. Livingood, his wife Jessica, and three kids spend their lives leading people nationally and locally in the hopes that others can experience real health.

Sources

The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action (pubmed.ncbi.nim.gov)

Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (pubmed.ncbi.nim.nih.gov)

Medium Chain Triglycerides induce mild ketosis and may improve cognition in Alzheimer’s disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis of human studies (pubmed.ncbit.nim.nih.gov)

Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women (ncbi.nim.nih.gov)

Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis – A preliminary report (ncbi.nim.nih.gov)

The Effect of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Time to Nutritional Ketosis and Symptoms of Keto-Induction in Healthy Adults: A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial (pubmed.ncbi.nim.nih.gov)l

The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial (pubmed.ncbi.nim.nih.gov)l

MCT Oil vs. Coconut Oil: What’s the Difference? (healthline.com)