Bullet Proof Coffee™ has become very popular over the years and the Bullet Proof ™ brand is very strong. This is by no means a criticism of Dave Asprey, because I believe he does make good products, but the popularity of adding fats to coffee has actually led to some questionable practices out there. If you have read my blogs and seen my posts you will know that I believe in getting my nutrients from whole foods as much as possible and only using these refined products as supplements if needed.
In this article we’ll look deeper into not only MCT oil but also fat drinks.
True MCT Oils
There are many MCT oil products out there these days and some are pretty inexpensive – but buyer beware! Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are a collection of short to medium length fats – hence the name. We know that these can be quickly absorbed and converted into ketones by the body and therefore have become very popular in the ketogenic diet – mostly for those who don’t understand how to get into ketosis or for those who really try to achieve higher ketone levels (not a bad thing just not a necessary thing for most) .
There are 3 true MCTs – Caproic acid (C6:0), Caprylic acid (C8:0), Capric acid (C10:0) all are found in coconut, palm oil and a variety of animal milks. The names caproic, caprylic, and capric acids are all derived from the latin word caper meaning goat presumably because of the smell of the fats. Some MCT blends include Lauric acid (C12:0) which shares much of the same properties of medium chain fatty acids but is technically a long chain fatty acid.
Caproic acid (C6:0) has been shown to create some digestive distress and Lauric acid (the long chained one) doesn’t convert that quickly to Ketones. Cheaper MCT oil blends are often a mix of all 4 and may not have the ketogenic effect that one would hope for when spending big bucks on refined oils.
My Oils of Choice
Personally if I use MCT it is because I am in a rush and failed to plan a real meal. Occasionally this happens so I have a bottle of 100% Caprylic acid – C8 product. This is a refined version of MCT oils that has the C6, C10, C12 removed, leaving only caprylic acid as the fatty acid component.
This is thought to improve GI tolerance and may have some other anti-microbial benefits. I have never dealt with the other inconveniences that some associate with MCT oil such as GI distress, indigestion, and diarrhea.
Caprylic acid has a shorter chain than capric and lauric acids, and thus seems to pass through the GI tract easily and is rapidly shuttled out to the liver for enzyme metabolism. This is where the ketones are made – in your liver. This is likely why research suggests that caprylic acid is the main contributor to elevated ketone levels in MCT oil (C8/C10). C10 shows little improvement compared to coconut oil.
Choosing the Right Oils for You
Bullet Proof ™ does make several good products, but you can get quality MCTs from other sources. If buying MCT oils, look for the fatty acid ratio on the label. If you don’t see that and the product is less than $20 for 16 oz, I would say it is safe to assume it is not worth it. The brand I use says 100% Caprylic acid right there on the label.
Food (or Fats) For Thought
The following video is an interesting watch. If you are thinking of adding oils to your coffee or other beverages, I’d encourage you to give it a watch and make your own educated choices about the supplements you choose to utilize in your diet. This video gave me pause for thought…I eat plenty of butter so I don’t need to add it to my coffee. I can stir in heavy whipping cream and MCT oil and make myself my own great “bullet proof” beverage.
Remember, fat is essential, but not all fat is created equal and is usually easy to get all the fat you would need through selection of good whole foods even if you are “eating keto”. When it comes to fat, quality is incredibly important and understanding what fats are in what foods/supplements is a good place to start. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.
-Dr. Jerome Craig