So does MCT oil break a fast, and can it really give you better results?
It’s confusing trying to figure out if MCT oil breaks a fast or not. Nobody wants to go through all the effort of fasting if there’s even the slightest chance you’re throwing your results out the window by breaking it.
Now there are a lot of benefits to taking MCT oil when you’re fasting. Mental clarity, faster weight loss, boosted energy, to name a few. But all those benefits will not be worth much if you’re breaking your intermittent fasting by taking it.
Here you’ll discover for yourself the truth about whether or not MCT oil will break your fast. You’ll also learn how you can maximize your results with MCT oil in addition to your fasting.
MCT Oil Benefits
The biggest reason why most take MCT oil is for accelerated weight and fat loss. When you take MCT oil, it’s quickly converted by your liver into ketones (1). These ketones are the same natural molecules that are created when you’re on the keto diet. This is one main reason why the keto diet is so effective for weight loss (2).
These ketones are essentially an energy source for your body. Most use glucose for their energy source, but those on the keto diet need another fuel source. This is because they’re not eating sugars or carbohydrates.
So the body “flips the switch” and starts using these ketones for fuel. Ketones are made from fat stores in the body. It’s thus thought this signals for the body to keep burning more fat for energy since no more glucose is coming in (3).
One of the most challenging parts of fasting for most people is hunger. MCT oil can help suppress your appetite and boost satiety, making it easier to get through your fast (4).
Grogginess is another side effect of fasting for many people, but taking MCT oil when fasting can get rid of this grogginess and boost mental clarity (5).
The ketones converted from MCT oil is like fuel for your brain. They’re able to cross the blood-brain barrier giving you more focus and mental clarity. It’s been found to even lower anxiety and depression (6). So if you’re having trouble with grogginess when fasting, then taking MCT oil can help.
Many also get an increase in energy in addition to the boost of mental energy from taking MCT oil when fasting (7). When you take MCTs, your body quickly shuttles it from your gut to your liver to be converted into energy.
They’re then easily used by your cells and don’t have to be broken down like other foods. Thus they can be used as an instant energy source in your body.
Calories in MCT Oil
If you look at the back nutrition label of MCT oil, you’ll see that it contains some calories. Most are quick to jump the gun and say that this must mean MCT oil breaks your fast since it includes calories…
But not so fast!
Yes, pretty much any food that contains calories can possibly end up breaking your fast. But MCTs aren’t processed like ordinary calorie-containing foods.
The MCTs aren’t digested in your gut, and your body doesn’t even send bile for digestion. Instead, it’s quickly transported by your blood to your liver, where it’s converted to ketones.
Since you’re not digesting these MCTs, your body doesn’t process them like other calorie-containing foods. So your body won’t have the same “fast breaking” effects of other calorie-containing foods (8).
Now there are different types of MCTs. Your body prefers caprylic acid, aka C8-MCTs. Studies have found C8-MCTs to be 3x more ketogenic than C10 and 6x more ketogenic than C12 (9).
So if weight loss and fat loss are your goals, make sure you’re taking 100% pure C8-MCTs. Your body will more efficiently convert them into ketones than other types of MCTs.
Ensure you carefully check the label when choosing an MCT oil, as most contain a blend of multiple types of MCTs. If you want maximal results, then taking C8-MCTs is your best bet.
MCT Oil and Insulin Response
Many experts agree that a fast is only truly broken when your body has an insulin response to the calories you’ve consumed. So if you’re only consuming a tiny amount of calories in the form of pure fat, you shouldn’t have any insulin response.
Since MCTs are pure fat and contains no carbohydrates or protein, you shouldn’t have any insulin response. MCT oil contains a minimal amount of calories, usually under 50g.
This isn’t going to break your fast (at least wholly). And you should still get many of the benefits and results from intermittent fasting.
Some fasting purists believe consuming anything other than water will break your fast. But fasting this way by only drinking water isn’t a realistic long-term option for most people.
The truth is you could get even better results by adding in some “fasting boosters” like MCT oil and coffee, especially in the long term.
Insulin resistance is heavily linked to not only type 2 diabetes but also obesity (12). Your body will improve metabolically and have an easier time burning fat for fuel with MCTs.
Fast Longer with MCTs
Without a doubt, the “hunger pangs” are going to be the most problematic part of fasting. If you’re an intermittent fasting beginner, you’ll most likely have a harder time fighting off hunger.
When you’re used to eating throughout the day, your body will initially go through withdrawals when starting intermittent fasting.
Adding MCTs while fasting is a proven way to lower the feelings of hunger. You’ll be able to fast easier and longer when you’re adding MCTs to your fast.
Studies have found MCTs to effectively increase satiety and lower the amount of food eaten when not fasting (13). The better you can get rid of these feelings of hunger, the greater chance you’ll succeed at this new way of eating.
Many people also feel groggy and lightheaded when they’re fasting. Adding MCTs can give your brain a fuel boost and get rid of the lightheaded feelings. The reason some get lightheaded when fasting is from the lack of fuel for the brain and low blood sugar.
But adding MCTs will instantly send ketones as a fuel source to your brain and help to stabilize blood glucose. Many who stop using MCTs when fasting quickly notice the grogginess and lightheaded feelings return quickly.
So MCTs won’t technically break your fast, and you’ll even get accelerated results. Breaking your fast isn’t like flipping a light switch. Even if your fasting may have the dial turned down after taking MCTs, you shouldn’t worry.
The boost in fat burning, mental clarity, and energy will more than makeup for it. And if you’re able to get through your fast easier and longer, that will also give you better results, especially in the long run.
How to Use MCT Oil While Intermittent Fasting
Most will get the best benefits by taking their MCTs in the morning. This is especially true if you’re hungry in the morning and used to eating breakfast.
Take your MCTs when you’re starting to feel those hunger pangs setting in. It’ll quickly fight off the hunger and allow you to keep on fasting.
You can also take the MCTs later in your fast if you’re not having trouble with hunger in the morning hours. However, I wouldn’t take more than two servings of it during your fast.
Taking too many MCTs in a short period can possibly lead to digestive discomfort. I’ve taken a serving first thing in the morning and some a few hours later without any problems, but others may have issues. It’s always best to start slower and then ramp your way up from there.
Does MCT oil in coffee break intermittent fasting?
No, taking MCT oil with your coffee isn’t going to break your fast. Coffee is great to drink when fasting since it’s a natural appetite suppressant. The caffeine and other compounds in coffee are also natural thermogenic (14).
This will raise your metabolism, and you’ll end up getting even better fat-burning results when you’re drinking coffee. Then adding MCT oil to your morning coffee will take it up another level.
I like to use this C8-MCT powder in my coffee. It mixes easily and tastes just like a delicious creamer.
Does MCT Oil Take You Out of Ketosis?
If you’re doing ketosis in addition to intermittent fasting, then rest assured MCTs won’t take you out of ketosis. MCTs are pure fat and shouldn’t contain any sugar or carbohydrates.
Just make sure you check the nutrition label on your MCTs since some cheaper manufacturers sneak in sugar or carbs to enhance the flavor.
C8-MCTs are going to be the best to boost your ketogenic results. Studies have found them to be 3x more ketogenic than C10 and 6x more ketogenic than C12.
Unfortunately, just about all MCT oils and powder contain a blend of multiple types of MCTs, which will end up giving you lackluster results. Be sure to find an MCT oil or powder that’s 100% C8-MCTs.
Coconut oil is far from the best choice for MCTs. It contains MCTs mainly in the form of lauric acid, which is harder for your body to process (15). If you cannot get C8-MCTs, then coconut oil may be a decent alternative but don’t expect to get the same results.
The Last Word
So at the end of the day, taking MCTs is not going to break your fast. The small number of calories it may contain aren’t processed like typical calories. They’re instead sent directly to your liver and converted into ketones. These ketones are then burned as a fuel source.
This ketone-generating process is the same that happens when you’re on the keto diet and no longer eating sugars or carbs. Your body needs an alternative fuel source, so it starts using up your fat stores for energy. This means less fat on your body!
Keep in mind there are fasting purists who believe that anything other than water will break you fast. You have to keep in mind while you’re fasting in the first place. If you’re looking to lose weight, burn fat, feel better and look better then MCTs will help you get there faster.
But the dial may get turned down when it comes to autophagy and gut health benefits. But MCTs have also been found to boost gut health (16). One tip is to work out when you’re fasting. Fasted exercise has been found to increase autophagy (17).
I like working out in the morning after taking the MCTs in my coffee. The energy boost from MCTs and coffee will take your workouts to another level.
You’ll also be able to fight off the hunger and get through your fasts easier with MCTs. The hunger and cravings are, without a doubt, the most challenging part of fasting.
So the better you’re able to fight off those hunger feelings, the more likely you’ll be able to make it through your fast. It’ll also make it more likely for you to keep fasting the next day, knowing you don’t have to go through all those hunger pangs.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.