Benefits of MCT Oil For Endurance Athletes

What is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are medium-length chains of fats. These fats are more easily digested than longer-chain fats that are found in many foods. 

MCT oil is commonly extracted from coconut oil, but it’s also found in palm oil and some dairy products. 

Gaining momentum in recent years, MCT oil is a popular supplement – especially among athletes. 

Continue reading this article to understand how MCT oil may benefit specifically endurance athletes. 

How are MCTs broken down in the body?

MCTs are absorbed quickly compared to other fat sources. 

They travel quickly from the gut to the liver, and interestingly, they do not require bile to break them down (1).

Once MCTs reach the liver, they can be used as an immediate source of energy. Research shows that MCTs are not actually stored as fat, but instead are converted to ketones, which is an energy source that the body creates from fat (2)

So MCTs are readily absorbed and transported throughout the body, for a quick source of energy. 

In fact, within minutes after consuming MCT, it has been shown that MCT is used for energy in the muscles. 

How MCTs improve endurance 

Science has speculated that MCTs can boost endurance due to the ability of these fats to quickly form ketones. 

MCTs can be rapidly used by the muscles while allowing them to conserve glycogen stores. 

Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates that is an important fuel source for both endurance and resistance exercise. 

Because we can use MCTs first and spare muscle glycogen, endurance is therefore improved. 

Compared to long-chain triglycerides, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are absorbed much quicker, thanks to their shorter length. 

Some research suggests a pre-workout drink containing MCT can enhance total energy output during a workout. Plus, MCTs have shown to boost the ability of the body to continue at higher intensities for longer durations (3)

Speeds recovery time 

After a workout, soreness kicks in due to a buildup of lactate in the muscles. These rising lactate levels can negatively impact exercise performance. 

However, MCTs have been shown to help decrease the buildup of lactate. 

Some research has shown that those who consume MCTs before a long workout have lower lactate levels, compared to those consuming other fat sources (3, 4).

In addition to MCTs being helpful for improving endurance, they can also speed recovery, enabling athletes to continue training.  

How to consume MCT?

MCTs are not commonly found in our diet in high quantities. There are only a few natural sources that contain MCT, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and whole milk. However, these sources are not purely made up of MCTs. 

The most common food source that MCT is sourced from is coconut oil. 

MCTs are frequently found in supplement form so individuals can therefore get a more concentrated source to reap its benefits. MCT oil is often found in powder or capsule form.

However, MCTs are likely more beneficial when consumed with carbohydrates – especially if the goal is improved endurance.  This is because MCTs are better metabolized in the presence of carbohydrates. 

Our strawberry banana protein shake is a fantastic supplement that contains MCT along with 8 grams of carbohydrates from a strawberry and banana juice blend. 

It contains a perfect ratio of macronutrients and ingredients to help improve endurance, along with preserving muscle and supporting weight loss goals. 

Simply blend this nutrient-dense powder with milk or water for a tasty and effective pre-workout. 

Regardless of how you consume MCT, consider consuming it before a workout with a source of carbohydrates for the best results.  

Key takeaways

MCTs are a common supplement, especially among athletes, thanks to their unique ability to be rapidly absorbed and used as an energy source. 

As a likely effective way to boost endurance, MCTs can be helpful for athletes looking to increase the lengths of their workouts. 

What’s more, MCTs have also been shown to speed recovery time after a workout. 

However you choose to incorporate MCTs, they are likely more effective for improving endurance when consumed with a source of carbohydrates.