Coconut Oil vs MCT Oil: Differences and Similarities When Using In The Keto Diet

Coconut Oil vs MCT Oil: Differences and Similarities When Using In The Keto Diet

The Keto diet is gaining its popularity in the fitness world because of its potential in aiding in weight loss. To some, it’s quite easy and sustainable because all you have to do is follow a high fat, low carb diet. Especially for those who are meat lovers and don’t rely too much on carbs, going keto might be the best diet option for them.

The weight loss observed in the Keto diet is due to the biochemical process called ketosis. Usually, the body uses carbs to transform it into sugar and use as a primary energy source through the process of glycolysis. However, if the body entered a low carb state, it will usually tap different energy source and switch on a different biochemical process to generate energy. In this case, the body will use fat and enter ketosis.

There are various fat sources an individual can take under a Keto diet, either animal based or plant-based fat. Two most common fat that can be introduced in the body is coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil. Here are some comparisons between the two:

Origin and composition

Coconut oil and MCT oil are both fat sources. MCT oil is usually extracted from coconut oil and sometimes in palm oil. However, best MCT oil is composed of 100% medium-chained triglycerides in their chemical structure. On the other hand, coconut oil only has 50-55% MCT in its composition. Coconut oil is more on its raw form. On the other hand, MCT oil undergoes processing to achieve purity.

It’s essential to take note that there are different types of MCT in oils. MCT is usually a term to describe the organization of carbon atoms in the chemical structure of fats. So basically it can be a broad term, and there are other different types of MCTs. Fats, in general, are composed of other types of MCT.

In coconut oil, the MCTs present are caproic, caprylic and lauric acid. On the other hand, MCT oil has only caproic and caprylic acid in its composition. The proportion of these also varies between the two.

Physical appearance and state

Coconut oil has a pungent smell and is slightly yellow especially if it didn’t undergo additional processes. On the other hand, MCT oil is a clear liquid because it has been processed in the laboratory. It’s also tasteless and odorless, so most Keto diet practitioners prefer to consume MCT oil rather than coconut oil.

In terms of its state, coconut oil is solid at room temperature. You still have to heat it which can be quite a hassle if you lack the time when incorporating it in your diet. On the other hand, MCT oil remains to be liquid at room temperature.


Although both fats can easily be digested, MCT oil tends to be digested faster than coconut oil. This is because the carbon chains of MCT oil are fewer than those in coconut oil. As mentioned earlier, MCT oil is composed of caproic and caprylic acids which only contain six and eight carbon atoms in the structure. Coconut oil, on the other hand, contains lauric acid which has twelve carbon atoms.

Because of its denser structure, it usually stays in the liver for a little while before it can be processed. The body recognizes it as a long chain triglyceride, so the digestion is a bit delayed thus absorbing it later than MCT.

On the other hand, MCT oil can be a source of an instant boost of energy because it doesn’t take long for the body to digest it. There are two fates of fatty acids after digestion. Either they can be used straight as an energy source, or they can be transformed into ketones.

Ketones are the by-product of ketosis. These substances are produced in the liver and are directly incorporated into your bloodstream that will be delivered to the rest of your body.


Both oils are beneficial to your health. Since both are plant-based oils, they can be considered as healthy fats. It’s a food staple in a high-fat diet like the Keto diet. The benefits of a keto diet are due to the effects of ketones that are produced by the body when there’s an introduction of high fat in a person’s diet. Whether the lipids came from coconut oil or MCT oil, here are the benefits of these two oils in the Keto diet.

  • Aids in weight loss – Medium chain triglycerides promote thermogenesis and oxidation of fat. Therefore, it can aid in weight loss by making the body more efficient in burning fat. It also plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body weight since it can also prevent fat accumulation which can lead to obesity. Fats are known to have high satiety value which keeps you fuller for a more extended period. This can be beneficial in weight loss because you tend not to eat frequently which is one of the few reasons why you’re gaining weight.
  • Cognitive function – Consumption of coconut oil and MCT oil is good for better brain health. Since the brain is considered the fattiest organ in the body which is composed of 60% fat, consuming fatty acids that can be found in these oils can nourish the brain. Ketones are easily transported to the brain through the bloodstream which in turn the central nervous system utilizes it to perform its functions well. Moreover, ketones can stabilize blood sugar that is essential in normal brain functioning.
  • Cardiac health – As mentioned earlier, MCT an essential function in preventing fat accumulation. Therefore, it can improve cardiac health by preventing fat buildup in arteries that can block the normal blood flow which can cause high blood pressure and even cardiac arrest.
  • Antimicrobial properties – Coconut oil has an added benefit compared to MCT oil because of the presence of lauric acid in its composition. Lauric acid is known to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which can promote a healthy gut. It can regulate the beneficial microflora that helps the digestive system function normally.

Final thoughts:

Both coconut oil and MCT oil are staple fats in a keto diet. Although different in their composition and physical properties, they are both beneficial in boosting your energy and promoting a healthier brain, heart, and gut.


I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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