Rachel Gregory is a Board-Certified Nutritionist specializing in the science/application of the ketogenic diet for weight loss, performance and overall health
Have you ever heard of a supplement that is 100% natural and can help you lose more weight, perform better at the gym and become more productive at work?
If that sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Those are all benefits of consuming MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which is why MCTs are becoming the #1 go-to supplement.
But many people who start taking MCT oil run into some problems that may make them second guess whether they’re doing the right thing.
That’s because MCTs in its raw oil form can be tough on the digestive system, causing stomach pain and discomfort. If you have a sensitive stomach or have had trouble with MCT oil in the past but still want to reap the benefits of MCT oil, there’s an alternative: MCT oil powder.
In this article we’ll explain:
You’ll also gain an understanding of why choosing high quality ingredients is extremely important when it comes to MCT supplements.
MCTs are a type of saturated fat that are rapidly absorbed by the body and used for immediate energy. MCTs are a very healthy fat because they act as natural antibiotics while aiding in gut health, immune function, healthy weight loss, improved brain function, exercise, disease prevention and much more[*][*][*][*][*].
MCTs are comprised of four different types of triglycerides — C6, C8, C10, and C12. They can come in two different forms — oil or powder.
MCT oil is a clean and effective energy source when it’s made with the right combination of effective medium-chain triglycerides (C8 and C10). It’s a reliable supplement that will help you achieve and maintain ketosis easily.
However, the oil form of MCTs has some limitations that can make consumption and absorption difficult.
MCT oil has 4 main downsides. It:
- Could trigger digestive problems.
- Is not easy to carry around.
- Is tricky to incorporate in recipes.
- Gives your drinks an oily texture.
Let’s take a closer look:
#1: Digestive Problems
Research has shown MCT oil can induce diarrhea, irritability, and vomiting[*], as well as intestinal gas and discomfort. This usually only occurs when people consume too much MCT oil or take it on an empty stomach.
It can also affect your gut if you have a sensitive digestive tract or are prone to digestive problems like IBS or bloating.
#2: Hard to Carry
If you want to take your MCT oil with you to the gym or on vacation, you’d have to carry the whole bottle around or find a smaller container and hope it doesn’t spill.
As with any oil, transporting a liquid is risky.
#3: Tricky to Cook With
MCT oil has a low smoke point — like olive oil — which limits the amount of foods you can add it to. It’s restricted to low-heat and raw dishes like salads and smoothies.
Because it’s an oil, it’s also a little difficult to add it to baked goods like cookies or muffins.
#4. Oily Texture in Drinks
MCT oil is a great addition to your morning coffee or tea to boost brain power, but because oil and water repel each other, the oil rises to the top and your drink gets an oily texture.
Some people are completely fine with this, but if you dislike an oily coffee, this is a downside.
If want to enjoy the energy, weight-loss, cognitive, and disease-preventing benefits of MCTs, but don’t want to deal with digestive problems or other oil pet peeves, MCT powder can be a more convenient choice.
With MCT powder, you have more flexibility when cooking, can take it anywhere easily and you have less digestive side effects.
MCT powder is just like MCT oil in terms of nutrition because it’s literally made from the oil, but it takes on a powder form. It’s made using a process called spray drying.
Just as the name implies, the MCT oil is “sprayed” into a microscopic powder which acts as a carrier shell. This process converts the liquid form into a solid (powder) form.
This conversion into powder makes the MCTs…
- Softer on your digestive system.
- Easier to incorporate into baked foods and drinks.
- Easier to combine with other supplements.
This is how MCT powder compares to MCT oil:
Both the liquid and powder forms of MCTs are a great source of clean and sustainable energy. However, they both have their strengths and weaknesses.
Pros of MCT Powder:
- Convenience: Convenient for travel and on-the-go.Unlike MCT oil, you can pack it in small plastic containers and take it to the gym or the office without the risk of it spilling. It’s also considerably lighter.
- Able to combine with other supplements: Mixes effortlessly into drinks and easy to combine with other supplements such as exogenous ketones or collagen. This stacking of supplements saves you time.
- Better digestibility: Easier on the digestive system, allowing you to consume more at once — leading to potentially higher energy and ketone levels and a decreased potential for disaster pants. A preliminary study on animals also suggests that MCTs in the form of powder could improve nutrient digestibility[*].
- Cooking advantages: In general, powder is easier to incorporate into recipes than oil. It can be used as an add-in in baked goods like cookies or energy bars, or incorporated into breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles or oatmeal.
- Creamy texture: Adds a creamy rather than oily texture to your morning coffee or other hot drinks. You can even use it as a creamer.
- Bonus health benefits: Provides extra health benefits when combined with a high quality fiber like acacia, such as normalized bowel movements, reduced inflammation in your gut, and a longer sense of fullness, which supports weight loss efforts.
Cons of MCT Powder
- Additives and fillers in the manufacturing process: Many MCT powder products out there are made with unhealthy fillers,additives and sweeteners that can spike your blood sugar and kick you out of ketosis. You have to look a little harder to find a high-quality powder.
- Requires a carrier fiber: MCT oil needs a carrier material to be turned into powder, and this gives manufacturers the opportunity to use low-quality fibers and create a product with an unfavorable ratio of MCTs to non-MCTs.
- Limited research on powder: Research on MCT powder itself is limited due to its newer incorporation into mainstream society, even though MCT benefits in general are well documented.
Pros of MCT Oil
- Solid research:There is extensive research supporting the many benefits of MCT oil. Studies have shown MCT oil can make ketones readily available, aid weight loss, improve cognitive function, prevent diabetes, prevent heart disease and improve workout performance.
- Less tampering during manufacturing: MCT oil does not require a “carrier” so the potential for additives and fillers is lessened.
- Perfect for low-heat cooking: MCT oil can be used to make dressings for salads, sauces for pasta or other low-heat dishes.
Cons of MCT Oil
- Hard to carry: Hard to take on-the-go or travel with due to its density and oiliness. There’s a risk of spilling and it’s more cumbersome to pack in individual containers.
- Limited uses when cooking: Because it has a low smoke point, it’s difficult to mix and/or incorporate into baking and high-heat recipes.
- Risk of digestive issues: Known for causing stomach discomfort and can be intolerable for some people with digestive sensitivities.
- Oily drinks: It gives your coffee or tea an oily texture.
- Can’t be combined with other supplements: Most supplements are in powder form, so it can’t be easily combined with collagen or ketones. It has to be taken on its own.
Although MCT oil has many research-backed health benefits, MCT in powder form can give you those same perks while being more convenient to carry, easier to cook with and easier to digest.
Let’s take a closer look at how MCT oil turns into powder:
As mentioned, MCT powder is made through a process called spray drying.
This method is widely used in the food industry to turn liquids and suspensions into solids (powder) by evaporating the moisture in the particles with hot air. Besides MCT powder, spray drying is commonly used to make products like powdered milk, vitamins, superfood powders, starches and even coffee.
Spray drying binds the MCT oil with a wall material or carrier (usually a fiber) and turns it into a convenient powder. Here’s how it happens:
Step #1: Creating the feed solution. Two materials are mixed to create the solution that will turn into powder:
- The core material, aka the MCT oil.
- The carrier powder, or wall material. It’s usually some form of fiber or starch, preferably acacia fiber like we use at Perfect Keto (though many companies use low-quality fillers to keep their costs down). The wall material encapsulates the MCT oil when heat is applied.
These two substances are homogenized (blended) to create a suspension.
Step #2: Feeding the solution through an atomizer. The suspension then passes through an atomizer. The atomizer is a pressure nozzle that controls the size of the droplets. It makes the droplets of the solution as small as possible so they can dry faster.
Step #3: Drying the solution to make the powder: The small droplets created by the atomizer enter a drying chamber. Hot air is introduced simultaneously with the droplets to the chamber. This evaporates the moisture from the droplets, creating solid particles (aka the powder). At this point we have powder and evaporated gas.
Step #4: Separating the particles: The particles pass to a cyclone, where the solids are separated from the gas that was just evaporated. The powder is then collected.
The process is eco-friendly as it creates no pollution.
The process of making MCT powder is clean and effective. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any added ingredients beyond the fiber (carrier), however, many manufacturers add preservatives, additives and sweeteners to the powder to…
- Cut costs.
- Bulk up the powder.
- Make it more palatable.
These ingredients are used because they are cheaper and easier to work with.
But we all know that when you go for cheap and easy, you definitely compromise on quality and efficacy.
A low-quality MCT oil powder mixed with additives and fillers can…
- Spike your blood sugar and stop ketosis.
- Prevent you from getting back into ketosis.
- Affect your energy levels because of the blood sugar spike.
- Make you consume fewer MCTs, which means less energy and fewer health benefits.
- Trigger digestive problems.
- Cause allergic reactions.
So how can you avoid these ineffective versions and choose a high-quality powder?
Here’s exactly what to look for.
Many MCT oil powders on the market are mixed with unnecessary ingredients that cheapen the product and make the MCTs less effective. Before you make your pick, check these 8 things first:
8 Characteristics of a High-Quality MCT Powder
Hint: Perfect Keto’s MCT Oil Powder checks all of these boxes. We’re the only MCT Oil Powder with zero additives or fillers. Click here to get 10% off your first order on MCTs (and any of our other awesome products).
#1: Made With A Healthy Powder Source
Rather than choosing an MCT powder made with questionable fiber sources, your best bet is to look for those made with acacia fiber.
Acacia fiber is derived from the sap of the acacia senegal tree that grows in parts of Africa, Pakistan, and India. It has been used medicinally for centuries by native cultures and has been researched extensively for its several health promoting benefits such as:
- Increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut[*].
- Optimizing digestion and nutrient absorption[*][*].
- Promoting weight loss, a lower BMI and less body fat[*].
- Strengthening the gut barrier and increasing immune function[*].
- Lowering cholesterol[*].
- Reducing constipation, diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome[*].
That’s why we only use acacia fiber and MCT oil in Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder.
Another beneficial carrier fiber is tapioca starch. It has similar health benefits as acacia and it’s not an allergen.
Stay clear of these three carriers:
- Corn fibers.
- Maltodextrin-based carriers.
- Liquid glucose.
How to Know
Find the ingredient label and check the second ingredient. The first ingredient should be MCT oil and the second acacia fiber.
#2: Made With MCT Oil From Coconuts
Look for MCT powders that are made using MCTs 100% from coconuts instead of palm oil or a blend of palm oil and coconut oil.
Palm oil is a highly unethical product due to the many environmental and social issues that occur from it’s production.
The palm oil industry is linked to habitat degradation, deforestation, animal cruelty, climate change and even increased child labor[*].
Additionally, coconut oil does not go through the extensive reheating and sterilization process that is common in palm oil manufacturing. This process causes unwanted changes in the nutrient make-up and enzymatic properties of palm oil, making it not only an unethical choice but also an unhealthy one.
How to Know
Find the ingredient label or look on the website. The first ingredient or description should say “MCTs from coconut oil” or “MCTs from coconuts.”:
If it only says “MCTs” and doesn’t specify the source, read the online description of the powder and find reviews. Avoid any powders that mention palm oil.
#3: Contains The Most Efficient Types of MCT Oil
When choosing the best MCT powder, it’s vital to consider the specific type of MCT oil used.
As mentioned earlier, there are four types of MCTs — C6, C8, C10 and C12. Basically, the smaller the number of C’s (or carbons), the more potent and beneficial ketone producing effect it will have.
The higher quality MCT oil powders use a combination of C8 and C10 – the two most effective MCTs.
Unfortunately, many of the MCT oils out there are comprised of a varying combination of C8, C10, and C12, due to the higher cost of using the more potent C8 and C10 alone.
This is problematic because even though C12 (lauric acid) has many health promoting properties, it takes much longer to be converted into energy compared to C8 and C10, and therefore is not ideal for MCT powder. Any powder that contains C12 won’t be as effective.
How to know
Unfortunately, the specific MCTs used in the powder are not usually mentioned in the nutrition label. You’ll have to do a bit more research.
First, you can read the online description and FAQs of the product. Second, in case you don’t find it, send an email to the company and ask for the specific MCTs used and their ratio. Choose one that only uses C8 and C10.
#4: Has a Balanced MCTs to Non-MCTs Ratio
It’s important to consider the total grams of MCTs per unit by assessing the ratio of MCTs to non-MCTs in the product (i.e., the ratio of MCT oil to powder and other ingredients).
For example, some MCT powders only have a 50% ratio of MCTs to non-MCTs with the latter 50% usually comprising of additives, fillers and other unhealthy carriers. Look for MCT powders that contain at least 70% MCTs with the other 30% coming from a healthy fiber source.
How to know
The specific oil to powder ratio is not usually included in the nutrition label of most powders. You’ll have to read the online description and FAQs, or as the last resort send the company an email. Don’t choose any powder that has less than 70% MCTs.
#5: No Fillers or Additives
Many MCT powders contain additives and fillers to extend the shelf-life of the product, enhance mixability, improve texture, prevent caking, increase bulk and/or reduce costs of manufacturing.
Some of the most common fillers and additives in MCT powder you should avoid are:
- Emulsifiers: Soy/Sunflower lecithin and mono- and diglycerides.
- Fillers: Soluble corn fiber, maltodextrin, psyllium husk.
- Preservatives: BHA, BHT, TBHQ, sodium benzoate and citric acid.
- Thickeners: xanthan gum, glycerol.
- Food dyes: Blue No. 1/Brilliant Blue, Blue No. 2/ Indigotine, Green No. 3/ Fast Green, Red No. 3/Erythrosine, Red No. 40/ Allura Red, Yellow No. 5/Tartrazine, Yellow No. 6/Sunset Yellow.
- Anti-caking agents: Silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, stearic acid.
- Enhanced food performance: Disodium phosphate.
These additives disrupt the ratio of MCTs to non-MCTs, leaving you with less beneficial fatty acids and more artificial ingredients devoid of any nutritional value.
Your powder shouldn’t have any of these ingredients. They’re not necessary and manufactures only add them because they are cheap and create a product that’s easier to handle.
How to know
Find the ingredient label and make sure these ingredients aren’t listed.
#6: No Unnecessary Sweeteners
Some manufacturers add unnecessary sweeteners to make the powder more palatable, especially if it’s a flavored version.
There’s a huge drawback to this: the sweeteners can spike your blood sugar levels and kick you out of ketosis. This disruption in your blood glucose also…
- Causes your energy levels to fluctuate.
- Affects your mood and focus.
- Puts you at risk for other diseases.
For instance, research has shown that maltodextrin — a common sweetener and filler– can spike your blood glucose levels and actually increase your risk for certain diseases.
A 2012 study showed that maltodextrin can wreak havoc on your gut by suppressing growth of healthy probiotics and increasing the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli — leading to increased risk for autoimmune and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease[*].
Added sugars have many names. Stay clear from any of these:
- Acesulfame K (Ace K)
- Glucose syrup solids
- Glucose syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals
- Cane sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Crystal dextrose
- Liquid fructose
- Malt syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
On the other hand, there are a few sweeteners that don’t spike your blood sugar and have zero calories, including:
- Monk Fruit
- The sugar alcohols erythritol
If you find any of these three in your ingredient label don’t be alarmed. They’re safe and won’t raise your blood glucose.
How to know
Find the ingredient list.The sweeteners would be the third ingredient after the MCT oil and acacia fiber. Stevia, monk fruit and erythritol are safer sweeteners.
Another common way for companies to cut costs when producing their MCT powders is to use corn-derived GMO ingredients (i.e., soluble corn fiber) and dairy-based carriers (i.e., sodium caseinate). These ingredients have been known to cause digestive and immune problems in many people so it’s best to avoid them.
Look for MCT powders that are non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free and are made in facilities that abide by these conditions at all times.
Some of the most common allergens to avoid include:
- Sodium caseinate, also known as casein.
- Nonfat dry milk.
- Soluble corn fiber.
- Milk protein.
How to know
If the powder contains these ingredients, they will be fourth or fifth in the ingredient label.
#8: Flavored With Healthy Ingredients
To cut costs, other manufacturers might add flavorings that are more stable and have a longer shelf-life than whole food ingredients.
If you want to buy chocolate, peach, strawberry or vanilla-flavored MCT powder, make sure the ingredient list doesn’t contain artificial flavors.
Artificial flavors are deemed mostly safe by the FDA but don’t have any nutritional value.
A better alternative is to choose a powder that uses real foods to add flavor, like:
- Powdered green tea (like Matcha flavored MCT Oil Powder)
- Sea salt
- Freeze dried fruit powder (without added sugar)
- Cocoa powder (like the Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder in Chocolate)
- Vanilla bean extract
- Powdered ginger
- Dried herbs
- Natural flavors distilled from real food
Plain MCT oil powder has the fewest ingredients, but if you want to add some flavor, make sure the flavor comes from whole food sources.
How to Know
Check the ingredient label to make sure there are no artificial flavorings.
Choose High Quality, Even If It Means Spending a Few Extra Bucks
Using the highest quality acacia fiber and 0 additives or fillers is not cheap. As discussed earlier, many companies use ingredients such as maltodextrin and soy lecithin because they make the manufacturing process cheaper.
But don’t be fooled — these ingredients are not your friend.
Food additives, particularly sweeteners, can disrupt your blood sugar, take you out of ketosis, affect your energy levels and reduce the amount of MCTs you consume — effectively removing the advantages you’re trying to get from MCTs.
Spending a little extra for a high-quality powder will let you enjoy the full benefits of MCTs.
Once you have high-quality MCT powder, you can use it in a variety of ways. As we mentioned before, it’s more flexible in the kitchen than MCT oil:
There are several ways you can incorporate your MCT oil powder in your everyday meals:
During a fast:
- MCT powder is perfect during a fast (or when intermittent fasting) to increase ketone production, suppress appetite and fight off cravings. You can add a teaspoon to plain water, tea or coffee.
- MCT powder is a perfect addition to your morning coffee, tea or hot chocolate, and it will add a creamy texture.
- Add it to sweet breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, crepes, oatmeal, overnight oats, chia pudding and smoothies.
Lunch and dinner:
- Sneak MCT powder into stews, soup, sauces and creams since it’s flavorless and can actually act as a thickening agent.
Baking and raw desserts:
- When you’re baking or making raw dessert recipes like a keto frappuccino, mocha fat bombs, or anti-inflammatory fat bombs.
Before and after a workout:
- As a pre-workout supplement to boost mental and physical performance. You can mix it just with water, or in a pre-workout shake.
- After a workout to encourage recovery, in a protein smoothie.
With other supplements:
- You can take it in combination with your exogenous ketones, which has been shown in research to actually boost ketone production even more[*].
- You can also take it with collagen.
- Are nutritionally equal.
- Provide an excellent energy source.
- Help you achieve and stay in ketosis.
- Are tasteless.
The main difference between them is MCT powder is more flexible when it comes to cooking and carrying it around, and has fewer digestive side effects than MCT oil.
For example, if you want to take your MCTs down to the beach or on a hiking trip, MCT powder might be more convenient.
If you have sensitive digestion and bloat easily, MCT powder will be more gentle on your stomach.
If you want the added perk of having a creamy morning coffee without a dairy creamer, MCT powder can make it happen.
If you choose to try MCT powder, remember that quality matters. MCT powder is more manipulated than MCT oil by manufacturers, so you need to find a high-quality powder that has a healthy fiber powder, is made entirely from coconut MCTs (not palm), uses only C8 and C10 fatty acids, has at least a ratio of 70% oil and 30% powder, and contains no fillers, additives, allergens, harmful sweeteners or artificial flavors.
The Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder is optimal for those looking for a high-quality powder with no extra artificial ingredients added. Besides using acacia fiber and MCTs from 100% coconut oil, it has a ratio of 70% MCTs and 30% fiber.
MCTs are by far one of the most fast-acting energy sources, and the many benefits associated with consuming MCTs — including better cognitive performance, disease prevention, and healthy weight loss — make it an ideal supplement for anyone, whether it’s in oil or powder form.
Click here to get a 10% discount on Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder (in any flavor) now.