MCT oil has become incredibly popular for health. It offers a way to get the weight loss benefits of coconut oil in a more concentrated and efficient form.
Finding the best MCT oil can often be confusing. There are dozens of different brands out there, each with their own advantages.
In this post, we’re looking at one specific comparison: MCT oil vs Brain Octane Oil.
Brain Octane Oil is just one type of MCT oil. But, it has some unique characteristics that may make it more powerful.
Let’s take a look at those and how much they matter.
MCT is an abbreviation for medium-chain triglycerides. These are fatty acids and are a key reason why coconut oil is so healthy (they're different than short-chain fatty acids). Basically, our bodies respond differently to MCTs than to other types of fat, breaking them down faster and processing them in the liver.
This makes MCTs a more immediate source of energy. They’re often converted into ketones as well (1,2). That pattern makes MCTs common during a keto diet and they can help people reach ketosis faster.
MCTs also directly promote weight loss and may have cognition benefits as well (3,4). In fact, MCT oil has considerable potential for weight loss.
You can get MCTs from coconut oil itself. But, MCT oil is a more powerful source.
Most of the time, MCT oil is created from coconut oil. Companies then use techniques to increase the MCT concentration and eliminate other compounds. The end product contains only MCTs and is liquid at any temperature.
Some companies use chemical solvents like hexane to get this outcome. But, plenty of others don’t. In fact, there are many high-quality MCT oil brands out there to choose from.
There are four main types of MCTs available:
- C6: Caproic acid
- C8: Caprylic acid
- C10: Capric acid
- C12: Lauric acid
Calling these C6, C8, C10 and C12 is a reference to the number of carbon acids in the chain. The shorter the chain, the faster the MCT is metabolized. MCT oil tends to include C8, C10 and C12, largely because C6 has a strong and unpleasant taste.
The ratios of these MCTs vary depending on the brand you choose. For example:
- Sports Research MCT Oil: 38% Caprylic acid (C8), 31% Capric acid (C10), 31% Lauric acid (C12)
- Onnit MCT Oil: 38% Caprylic acid (C8), 31% Capric acid (C10), 30% Lauric acid (C12)
- Now Foods MCT Oil: 54% Caprylic acid (C8), 46% Capric acid (C10)
- Keppi Keto MCT Oil: 55% Caprylic acid (C8), 45% Capric acid (C10)
- Left Coast MCT Oil: 56% Caprylic acid (C8), 44% Capric acid (C10)
- Zenwise Health MCT Oil: 67% Caprylic acid (C8), 33% Capric acid (C10)
- Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder: 70% Caprylic acid (C8), 30% Capric acid (C10)
Lauric acid is the most controversial of these MCTs.
- It is the most significant MCT in coconut oil and is responsible for many of coconut oil’s benefits. This includes the ability to fight microbes and protect against infection (5,6,7,8).
- It also has a longer chain length, which leads to some differences in how it is metabolized. In fact, Bulletproof argues that lauric acid isn’t really an MCT at all and certainly doesn’t offer the same benefits.
- Lauric acid is less effective at bringing people into ketosis. But, it can promote more sustained ketosis (9,10).
- As a result, removing lauric acid may decrease overall health benefits. Doing so may also increase the speed that the MCT oil is metabolized at, potentially improving weight loss outcomes and ketone production.
- This is why some MCT oil brands leave the lauric acid in, while others remove it entirely.
Advantages of MCT Oil
- There are many brands to choose from, including some that are high-quality and reasonably priced.
- MCT oil promotes weight loss, energy and ketone production.
- A better source of MCTs than coconut oil.
- The inclusion of lauric acid provides some of the health benefits that coconut oil offers. It also promotes more sustained ketosis.
- You can focus on brands with a good balance of MCTs, even choosing ones that exclude lauric acid if you want that.
Disadvantages of MCT Oil
- You need to choose the brand carefully. Some use chemical solvents as part of their processing. The MCTs used and their ratios can also vary considerably.
- The C10 and C12 MCTs are processed slower than C8.
MCT oils vary in which MCTs they contain and the amounts. The oils have significant potential for weight loss and health
Brain Octane Oil
Brain Octane Oil is one specific type of MCT oil and it’s produced by the brand Bulletproof. Bulletproof is the brainchild of Dave Asprey, who describes himself as a biohacker. He focuses on optimizing the human body, helping people to perform better.
He is also the creator of Bulletproof coffee. This is a coffee recipe that uses Brain Octane Oil and either ghee or grass-fed butter. Many people simply make it with other MCT oil brands.
Brain Octane Oil is designed with that use in mind – and also strongly focuses on quality.
The main difference between Brain Octane Oil and MCT oil comes down to the fats.
- MCT oil tends to use a combination of C8, C10 and C12 fatty acids, although some just focus on C8 and C10, excluding lauric acid.
- Brain Octane Oil just contains C8 MCTs, nothing else.
This is significant.
MCT chain size directly impacts how the fatty acids are metabolized. The shorter the chain, the faster the processing. This should mean that C8 provides the most energy and converts to ketones the fastest.
It’s easy to see how that could promote more health benefits.
One other difference is the brand.
- Bulletproof does have a strong focus on quality and is very transparent about business practices. The oil itself is produced from pure coconut oil. It is cleaned using activated charcoal and then refined using pressure, heat and water.
- Some other companies take a similar approach, so Bulletproof isn’t unique. Still, if you want a reliable company, it is a popular choice.
Even so, most of the marketing for Bulletproof focuses on the fact that lauric acid doesn’t behave like other MCTs. Yet, many MCT oil brands don’t contain lauric acid either. They offer a combination of C8 and C10 MCTs instead.
This means the differences between MCT oil and Brain Octane Oil isn’t as significant as Bulletproof likes to claim. C8 is still processed faster than C10, which should make Brain Octane Oil better. But, we don’t know whether this difference is biologically significant.
Advantages of Brain Octane Oil
- Converts to energy and ketones faster, making it powerful for weight loss and anyone on a keto diet.
- Uses entirely C8 MCTs
- A reliable and transparent brand
- You know exactly what you’re getting each time
Disadvantages of Brain Octane Oil
- More expensive than many MCT oil brands (or you get less for your money) and is available in fewer places.
- Offers a narrower range of health benefits.
- You’re partly paying for the brand name.
- Bulletproof tends to hype the product. There is little evidence that it is actually more powerful than regular MCT oil.
Brain Octane Oil just contains C8 MCTs and may have more impacts for ketosis and weight loss. Nevertheless, those advantages haven’t been proven
Using the Oils
There are some key differences between regular MCT oil and Brain Octane Oil. Even so, both types are used in the same general manner. The oil is mostly tasteless, so it’s easy to add it to anything you like.
For example, Bulletproof suggests that you can do all of the following:
- Add the oil into hot drinks, including tea
- Make smoothies using the oil
- Add it to salad dressings
- Drizzle it over any meat or vegetable
- Use it as an ingredient in meals
- Cook with it (up to 320°F)
The same options apply to regular MCT oil as well. For that matter, you could use coconut oil in many of the same ways, although coconut oil is a solid at some temperatures.
You can also make bulletproof coffee with either type of MCT oil or with coconut oil. The video below shows you how to do this with the official ingredients. But, you can use regular coffee beans, MCT oil and butter instead, if you prefer.
If you’re stuck for ideas, the site Simple Green Smoothies offers a green smoothie recipe that uses MCT oil and looks amazing. The site Keto Flavor also offers a list of six recipes that all use MCT oil.
A word of warning though – start slow. MCT oil can cause digestive challenges, especially at the beginning.
MCT oil and Brain Octane Oil can be used in many ways, especially as they are both a clear and almost tasteless liquid
Which is Better?
Brain Octane Oil is often promoted as superior and it does have clear advantages. The reliance on just caprylic acid means that the oil is processed faster and may convert to ketones more efficiently.
This pattern should make Brain Octane Oil better for weight loss, especially for anyone on a keto diet. If you’re specifically interested in energy, weight loss or ketones then yes, Brain Octane Oil is probably more powerful.
But, we don’t know how much better it is – that research doesn’t exist.
There are disadvantages too. Brain Octane Oil gets rid of lauric acid entirely. That’s the compound responsible for many of the benefits of coconut oil. Removing it may mean fewer overall health benefits.
That aside, many MCT oil brands exclude lauric acid, relying just on the C8 and C10 MCTs. Most of the benefits that Brain Octane Oil offers are likely to apply to these brands as well.
Of course, this is mostly theory. We know that MCT oils can offer some health benefits but it’s unclear how significant the fatty acid composition is. Much more research is needed.
But, in general…
- Brain Octane Oil is a high-quality and reliable source of C8 MCTs. It is particularly relevant for weight loss, energy and ketone production.
- MCT oils contain a combination of MCTs, often including lauric acid. This provides a wider range of potential health benefits.
- Some MCT oils exclude lauric acid. These may offer similar benefits to Brain Octane Oil, at a lower price.
At the end of the day, Brain Octane Oil, MCT oil and coconut oil all offer many of the same benefits. Which you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference and priorities. The best answer is simply to try them out and see what gives you the outcomes you’re looking for.
Some key brands that you can consider are the ones below. These are all high-quality options and are a perfect place to begin.
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