If you’re hoping for a concise answer, 5-15 grams of MCT oil at a time is the most common dosage range. This range is practical, effective, and thoroughly tested in numerous scientific studies.
However, to really dial in your MCT intake, you’ve got to consider your goals and how your body responds to this supplement. And that’s not always so simple.
Take too much and you can experience an upset stomach, too little and you won’t get the full benefits. To complicate matters further, it’s not always easy to convert dosages between milliliters, grams, ounces, and teaspoons. (And you’ll find all of these various types of measurements out there.)
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered in this comprehensive guide. Keep reading to learn what research really says about MCT oil dosages, the easiest way to determine the correct amount for your health goals, how to convert between different measuring standards, and other practical tips to help you reap all the benefits of the keto diet.
What Is MCT and What are Its Benefits?
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. Also known as medium-chain fatty acids, MCTs are commonly extracted as oils from high-quality coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
These unique fats are shorter than other fats, which gives them different digestive properties. MCTs can bypass traditional digestion and go straight to the liver, where they can be absorbed quickly and can be directly converted to ketones. In other words, they can significantly boost ketone levels on the keto diet. [*]
MCT oil has a ton of researched-backed health advantages not found with other fats. On the ketogenic diet, MCT oil is a source of fat that can quickly boost energy levels by effectively increasing ketone production, as well as promote fat loss, particularly in comparison to long-chain triglycerides. Unlike other fatty acids, MCTs are extremely unlikely to be stored as body fat. [*]
MCTs not only support ketosis and healthy weight loss, but they also support cognitive health and gut health. They can also increase your exercise performance by giving you more energy, and keeping cravings at bay. Studies even suggest MCT may help manage diabetes and prevent heart disease. [*][*][*]
- This visual from the 8 MCT Oil Benefits section
How Much MCT Oil Is Right for You?
In a nutshell, when you use MCT oil, the key is to take enough for your goals without unwanted digestive side effects.
Most people should take 5-15 grams of MCT oil per day, one to three times per day for a total of 5-45 grams per day of MCT. Within these guidelines, there’s plenty of room for experimentation.
Regarding metabolization and digestion, every individual body is unique. That’s why a certain dose of MCT may be right for your friend but not ideal for you.
MCT is highly effective for goals including fat loss, mental and physical energy, and increasing ketone levels. And even a single dose taken one time per day can drive noticeable or measurable results.
On the other hand, there’s no reason you can’t take a large amount of MCT, as long as you split it up and avoid exceeding your own personal limits with each dose.
To start, we recommend that you try 5-10 grams of MCT per dose, with anywhere between one and three total doses a day. You can experiment with up to 15 grams per dose, but some people experience negative side effects when they start at such a high level. Explore a range of doses and see how your body responds.
How to Scale Your MCT Intake for a Sensitive Stomach
When you start taking MCT, it’s a good idea to start gradually, especially if you’re prone to upset stomach and other effects. If you have a hyper-sensitive stomach, start by taking 3-5 grams once or more a day.
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If that feels okay, you can increase the amount to 8-10 grams, increase your frequency, or both.
For people who find their upper limit is only 3-5 grams per dose, taking multiple lower doses at higher frequencies each day can be very helpful and effective if your body is more sensitive. As an example, you could take 3 grams of MCT every two hours to achieve a total of 18-21 grams or more per day.
At Perfect Keto, we recommend people with sensitive stomachs start with a quarter -scoop of any of our MCT oil powders. Once your body feels good with that amount, you can scale up from there.
The Best MCT Dosages According to Peer-reviewed Studies
For Fat Loss
There are certain dietary dosages of MCT that can help you shed excess fat. In one clinical study, for example, participants lost more body weight by consuming a dosage of 18-24 grams of MCT oil a day, in comparison to the same consumption of olive oil [*].
For Energy and Ketosis
One report tested the results of a low-carb meal, its time of consumption, and the addition of an MCT supplement to assess the metabolic switch from glucose to ketones over an eight hour period. Turns out that two 10g doses of MCT increased the ketone response by 88%, without altering insulin levels. And with an overnight fast and early breakfast, the ketogenic effect and metabolic switch over eight hours was even more intense compared to lunch.[*]
Continued dosages of 20mg of MCTs suggest that the supplement has positive effects on verbal memory and processing speed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In a controlled study on 20 Japanese Alzheimer’s patients, participants showed significant improvements in a digit-symbol coding test and immediate logical memory test after consuming 20g of MCTs over a 12-week period.[*]
MCTs can provide the brain with more fuel and improve cognitive function. In another study, patients with mild cognitive impairment saw brain ketone metabolism increase by 230% after taking 30g of MCT per day during a six-month period. [*]
What Happens if You Take Too Much MCT?
Studies show that MCT supplements are very safe. They’ve been extensively researched in various demographics, from children to the eldery.
But if you’re an MCT oil beginner and not used to them, or take too much, they can cause gastrointestinal distress like bloating, nausea, stomach cramping, or general stomach discomfort.
One reason for these phenomena is related to osmosis. When you take too much MCT at once, the fast-absorbing MCTs may cause a temporary buildup of water in your small intestine, resulting in something called “osmotic diarrhea” (essentially, loose and liquid stool)[*].
In the keto community, people sometimes refer to an overdose of MCT oil as causing “disaster pants.” While it sounds humorous, this isn’t a fun situation to deal with — but it’s very likely you can avoid it by following the dosage recommendations we covered in previous sections.
Lastly, if you start to notice any discomfort while taking MCT, scale back your dosage until your body feels comfortable and regulated again. You can also try taking it with a meal as opposed to an empty stomach and see if that helps.
How to Convert Your MCT Oil Dosage
Different studies, websites, brands, and products not only offer different suggestions on how much MCT to take, but they often use different measurements to do so.
The most common and straightforward measurements are grams (g), a unit of weight, and milliliters (ml), a unit of volume that’s approximately equal to grams. but you could also encounter ounces, “scoops,” or measuring spoons like teaspoons and tablespoons of MCT oil.
When you’re figuring out your dose, the best and most precise way is to ultimately convert any recommendation back to grams of MCT oil — which is why we’ve used grams so far in this article.
For anyone who’s not very mathematically inclined, here are the most common measurements converted:
- A teaspoon is slightly under 5 ml, which is just under 5 grams (and a good starting MCT dose for most people)
- A tablespoon is close to 15 ml, or a bit under 15 grams (as an individual dose, that’s too high for most people, especially if you’ve never tried MCT oil)
- An ounce is approximately two tablespoons, 28.5 ml (for a fluid ounce) or 28.5 grams (by weight) — almost guaranteed to cause diarrhea if taken in a single dose!
Scoops come in all different sizes, so you’ll need to check each manufacturer’s product label to learn what the weight or volume of any given scoop happens to be.
Finally, note that weight or mass (grams or ounces) and volume (milliliters, measuring spoons, and fluid ounces) are essentially interchangeable regarding liquid MCT oil, so you can use a food scale or a measuring spoon depending on your preferences.
Determining Your Dosage of MCT Oil vs. Powder
There are different types of MCT. MCT powder is made by drying out MCT oil using a specialized process called spray drying, which converts the liquid to a solid, powdered form. MCT oils and powders both offer the same health benefits, though many people find that MCT powder is easier to digest.
Many people prefer MCT powder to oil because it’s more convenient. It’s not messy like the oil, it’s super easy to transport, and it blends and mixes seamlessly into a simple cup of coffee or more elaborate dinner recipes.
However, the spray drying process does affect the required dosage. Instead of going by the total serving size (in grams) as you usually would with liquid MCT oil, you’ll need to look at how many grams of actual MCT oil are included by consulting the nutrition facts label.
As an example, in our MCT oil powder, the serving size is 12.6 grams total, which contains 10 grams of MCT oil. You’d use the second amount to calculate your dosage, not the first. In other words, the serving size in grams will be higher, so you need to take a second look at the label to determine the amount of MCT oil in a serving of MCT oil powder.
When we talk about MCT oil powder dosages, it’s important to keep these differences in mind — always look for the actual MCT content, not just the serving size of MCT oil powder. We like to keep it simple and measure MCT in grams. That means you’re weighing out your MCT intake, instead of using a volume measurement like teaspoons or milliliters. It may sound complicated, but it’s an easy route. For example, if you’re going to start out with a 5-10 gram dosage of MCT, a scoop of MCT powder is the perfect middle ground.
How to Incorporate MCT Into Your Diet
It’s pretty simple to incorporate MCT oil powder into your keto diet. It not only works as a quick energy boost, but you can also build it into your favorite drinks, smoothies, and recipes.
When to Take MCTs
The short answer: whenever you need energy.
Your body will burn MCT almost instantly and use it for fuel. It’s a fantastic energy source. Which is why it’s a good idea to plan your MCT intake when you need it most:
- First thing in the morning to wake you up
- Before a workout
- Right before you really need to focus
- During the afternoon slump
If this is your first introduction to MCT oil, you can also try taking it with a large meal. It can reduce the possibility of an upset stomach.
And if trying to measure out and add up your daily MCT intake feels overwhelming, create some routines off the bat.
Start out, for example, by taking one dose in your morning beverage and one dose during your afternoon slump snack (or whenever makes the most sense to you). Total up your daily intake accordingly, then stick with it for a while until you’re ready to up your dosage again. That way you won’t have to keep track of it every day.
The Easiest Ways to Use MCT
The most common and fastest way to consume MCT is to drink it by mixing it into your favorite beverage, or snack on granola-style bars. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
- Boosted or Bulletproof Coffee: add a scoop of MCT oil powder to your morning coffee. Not only will you get a fast energy boost to start the day, but you’ll get a creamy, frothy beverage that feels just a little more special. Blend it into your tea or smoothie and you’ll get that same creamy texture.
- Breakfast & Snacks: Enjoy low-carbohydrate pancakes, again with keto blueberry cheesecake pancakes. Whisk MCT oil powder into keto egg muffins or make this matcha chia seed pudding.
- Desserts: Satisfy your sweet tooth and bake this super easy chocolate lava cake with MCT oil or get inspired by the seasons with a velvety, low-carb keto pumpkin pie.
- Fat Bombs: Get a quick midday energy boost with fat bombs, like this Perfect Keto mocha version.
Now You’re Ready to Get Started with MCT
If you’re ready to get going with MCT and experience those energy boosts throughout the day, start small and scale up. Figure out what works for your body and how to best incorporate it into your diet and daily routine.
It really is simple to make MCT a part of your life. Whether it’s with your morning coffee or whipping into a keto dessert, it’s all about finding ways to get it into your system so you can experience benefits like fat loss and big energy boosts.
You can also increase your daily dose of MCTs in ketogenic snacks like Coconut Chocolate Chip Nola Bars or Salted Caramel Keto Bars. Or get a quick hit with SuperFat Keto Nut Butter packs, with flavors like Coffee + MCT that are loaded with MCT oil and help you power through the day.