For all you ketos and buttered-coffee-loving people out there, I’m sure you know that MCT oil is a quick and clean source of fuel. If you’re mixing your MCT oil in your favorite drinks, it’s not as optimized as it can be.
Before I get into the upgraded version of MCT oil, emulsified MCT oil, though, let’s start at the beginning.
Step 1: Nutrition vocabulary refresher.
Let’s be real. There’s a lot of redundant science jargon out there. My goal is to TEACH you something new, not make you feel dumber and more confused than 10 minutes ago. Here are a few common terms you’ll see in this article.
Triglycerides = fatty acids = lipids = fat
They all mean the same thing. Why there are four terms with the same meaning, I don’t know. Go team science.
Step 2: WTF are all these acronyms?
MCT = medium-chain triglycerides
EMCT = emulsified medium-chain triglycerides
“Medium” refers to the number of carbons attached. MCTs fall between 6- and 12-carbon chains.
Oils can contain short-, medium-, and long-chain triglycerides, but most oils are some combination of the three.
Although MCTs can be found in full-fat yogurt, grass-fed butter, whole milk, palm oil and some cheeses, coconut oil is the most concentrated dietary source. Approximately 62% of the total fat is composed of these four MCTs: lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and caproic acid.
While coconut oil is naturally occurring, MCT oil is extracted through a manufacturing process called fractionation. The lauric acid is lost during this process, so in order to maximize this particular MCT powerhouse, lauric acid must be added back into MCT oil.
Many commercial MCT oils are combined with palm oil. The problem with palm oil is not anything nutritionally based but rather in the environmental implications. It’s considered to be a significant driver in deforestation internationally.
Take away: Look for a pure coconut oil extracted MCT oil with lauric acid.
Emulsification & Digestion
What is emulsification? It’s essentially a process that allows two liquids to blend that wouldn’t physically or chemically combine otherwise.
Let’s go back to elementary school science class. Think oil and water. You can shake a bottle of the two liquids together like a Shake Weight, and they still will not combine. By emulsifying fat, like with emulsified MCT oil, it allows the water and fat molecules to mix easily.
Your digestive system works in a similar way.
Lipids (fats) are hydrophobic, meaning they have poor solubility in the water-rich environment of our digestive tract. We have this handy enzyme, lipase, to help facilitate the digestion and absorption of fats, but again, it’s water soluble.
Bile components emulsify fatty acids to help lipase do its job. The fat is broken down into smaller globules and then coated with the bile salts and phospholipids, which prevent the droplets from re-combining. This emulsification of fats increases the surface area for fat to be properly digested and absorbed.
Take away: By intaking pre-emulsified fats, like emulsified MCT oil, you’re actually giving your bod a break by taking care of the initial digestion steps. If you are someone who has a hard time digesting fats, emulsified MCT oil might be a better option for you.
Mixability & Pairing
If you’re one of those people who looks for the path of least resistance when it comes to food preparation, emulsified MCT oil is your new best friend.
Level of difficulty: stupid easy.
Grab cup. Pour liquid. Add EMCT oil. Enjoy.
No magic bullet or blender required. You can call on a spoon for help, but you don’t need it.
Take away: As thick and smooth as a coffee creamer, emulsified MCT oil mixes well in any drink of choice – hot or cold. Be sure to look out for flavored varieties of emulsified MCT oil for a one-stop shop.
But the uses don’t stop there. Add emulsified MCT oil to your morning oatmeal, full-fat Greek or Skyr yogurt, caffeinated beverages and protein shakes. The options are endless.
To reap the most benefits of MCTs in your food, follow this guide:
● Cooking and baking at high temperatures: use ghee (clarified butter). It has lower MCT content than coconut oil, but has a higher smoke point.
● Cooking and baking at medium temperatures: use coconut oil. It has higher MCT content than ghee or butter, but a lower smoke point.
● Mixing and blending with un-emulsified fats at medium temperatures: use MCT oil – a concentrated source of lauric acid with a low smoke point.
● Stirring into any substance at any temperature: use emulsified MCT oil. There’s typically a lower concentration of lauric acid than MCT oil, but it mixes much easier.
To save you time, I tried mixing the EMCT oil with a grass-fed butter in coffee and the fat molecules from the butter separated and rose to the top. I also tried blending them. Still no luck.
Take away: Emulsified MCT oil is best for a quick, stir-and-go option unless you’re mixing it in a drink with melted butter. No appliances or hassle required.
The Winner: MCT or Emulsified MCT?
Forget all the science, here’s what you need to know:
Emulsified MCT oil looks, acts and tastes like your standard creamer with added benefits. For a nutritionally dense dietary addition without a ton of prep time, this is your go-to.
Add to: liquids, yogurt, oatmeal, shakes, sauces, puddings, dressings and even your Paleo-friendly, coconut-based whipped cream. Pretty much anything will work.
MCT oil looks like a melted version of coconut oil. It acts [nutritionally] like a concentrated version of coconut oil. And it tastes like…well, it typically doesn’t have much of a taste.
Add to: drinks in combination with another un-emulsified fat, i.e. grass-fed butter. Note: use of blender required.