What are MCTs? | How is MCT Powder made? | MCT Oil VS. Powder | How to look for good quality MCT supplements | How to use a MCT Powder | Conclusion
Are you in doubt between buying a MCT oil or a MCT Powder, and don't know what to base your choice on? We explain the differences and how to incorporate MCT Powder in your daily routine.
But, first, let's start with a brief explanation of what MCTs actually are—perhaps you're not at all familiar with the term or want to know more about it.
What are MCTs?
MCT fatty acids are converted into energy in the body. Long-chain fatty acids are converted into energy more slowly. This means that the shorter the chain, the better, but only up to a point. So the amount of MCTs determine how quickly your body can absorb them and convert them into ketone production (think: energy).
A brief ranking of MCTs based on how many ketones the body produces with them:
- C6: Capronic acid (not found much in coconut oil): is converted to ketones very quickly, but is poorly tolerated by the intestines. C6 is found in poorly purified MCT oils and is likely to cause problems when ingested. C6 does not seem to taste good, which alone is a good reason to avoid it.
- C8: Octanoic Acid: Well tolerated by the intestines and is quickly converted to ketones. About 6% of coconut oil is C8. It has no flavor itself, but can enhance other flavors.
- C10: Decanoic Acid: Is tolerated after a period of habituation, so don't run out of steam (think: an acute toilet visit)! Is less likely to be converted to ketones than C8, but still pretty good. About 9% of coconut oil is C10. Like C8, has no flavor of its own, but may act as a flavor enhancer.
- C12: Lauric Acid: C12 has a "medium" length, but does not behave like an MCT in the body. Converts to ketones about as fast as longer non-MCT fats (not very fast, that is). C12 has other benefits, such as anti-microbial properties. C12 just doesn't help make ketones very much. About 50% of coconut oil is made up of lauric acid.
The C represents the number of carbon atoms that make up the fat. So C8 has 8 carbon atoms.
How is MCT powder made?
MCT powder is made from MCT oil using a process called spray drying. Manufacturers use specialized industrial equipment to bind MCT oil to a microscopic fibrous carrier powder (in NoordCode's version, this is acacia fiber), which converts the liquid MCTs into a solid, powdered form.
During spray drying, the two components are mixed together and reduced to powder. The end result is a dietary supplement with all the benefits of MCT oil that is portable, easy to mix into smoothies and other beverages, and suitable for use in (baking) recipes.
MCT Oil VS. MCT Powder
While MCT oils and MCT powders both offer the same benefits, there are pros and cons to every type of MCT supplement.
An overconsumption of MCT oil can lead to high distress, but also to nausea and stomach complaints. An MCT powder is easier to tolerate and therefore recommended for people who have previously experimented with the oil form and experienced discomfort.
A (glass) bottle of MCT oil can still leak - and is heavy - and therefore less easy to export. Bulletproof has made 15ml travel packs before, but a jar of MCT powder is more durable and just as easy to take with you on a trip or to the office.
Texture and blending
Adding MCTs to coffee or other beverages is a great way to boost fat intake and satisfy hunger. But, MCT oil mixes poorly and gives a greasy result. The powder forms blend much easier and gives a creamy texture as a final result.
Studies on MCT powders and their effects are still scarce because this is a relatively new product on the market. However, a 2017 study showed that an emulsified MCT powder supplement is more ketogenic and has fewer side effects than conventional MCT oil. 
How to pick a quality MCT supplement?
Whether you choose oil or powder, choosing a quality MCT supplement is essential.
Low quality MCT powders often use starch or other fillers. As a result, they work counterproductive; they raise your blood sugar, negatively affect your energy levels, cause digestive problems, and block the production of ketones - which is probably why you use MCTs (and in powder form).
MCT oil itself does not contain fillers, but it can be a cheap MCT oil that is poorly manufactured. Low-quality MCTs are often produced at high temperatures and therefore damaged.
There are a number of criteria that a quality MCT powder supplement must meet. Include them in your search and don't just buy anything until you have checked off the following points. High-quality MCTs:
- Are made from 100% coconut oil. Palm oil or a mixture of coconut oil and palm oil are no-go's
- Contain only caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10)
- Are carefully processed at low temperature to preserve the nutritional value and enzymatic properties of the oils
- Are formulated without corn fiber or maltodextrin-based carriers, and use natural, fiber-based carriers (acacia fiber) instead
- Do not contain emulsifiers, preservatives, thickeners, coloring agents or additives
- Use healthy ingredients for added flavor (like: coconut powder)
Besides natural ingredients to add flavor, only two ingredients should be listed on the label: medium-chain triglycerides and a carrier (preferably acacia fiber).
How to apply MCT Powder in your daily routine
Want to know how to apply MCT Powder to your daily routine? We will give you some ideas.
- In beverages: a scoop of MCT powder in your coffee, tea, juice or smoothie gives you satiety and adds a creamy texture. You'll find some unique Bulletproof Coffee recipes here.
- In meals: you can add MCT powder to meals. Not to top your steak with, but a stew or soup will do. The powder is heat resistant up to 180 degrees, tasteless and acts as a thickener.
- In baked goods: because the powder is heat resistant, it makes an excellent ingredient to use in keto treats.
- During fasting: strict fasting does not allow calories - some argue that even tea and black coffee is not allowed - but with a mild form of fasting you can use a teaspoon of MCT powder or oil to increase ketone production, suppress your appetite and thus prolong fasting.
- Pre- and post-workout: MCT powder acts as a great pre-workout supplement. It improves focus during the workout and enhances physical performance. You can add it to a protein smoothie or mix it with water or other beverages pre-workout, or use it after a workout to stimulate recovery.
Whether you go for a powder or the oil: both give you the benefits. A MCT powder has a creamy taste, is easier to travel or use in the office, and you'll most likely avoid disaster pants. The downside is that a powder form is more expensive than an oil and all the research into the health benefits has been done with an oil. Whatever you choose, always go for high quality.