To understand how MCT oil makes fasting easier, you’ll first need to learn the science behind this healthy fat: MCT oil stands for medium-chain triglyceride oil, and it’s typically extracted from coconut oil, kernel oil, and dairy fats—like grass-fed butter or ghee.
As its moniker suggests, MCT oil is a medium-chain saturated fat, as opposed to a long-chain saturated fat. “They’re utilized and metabolized in the body completely differently,” adds Cole. “That specific type of saturated fat behaves differently.”
According to Cole, MCTs are easily absorbed by the body, which means “it’s a good tool for people that are in a fast to work on satiety.” In fact, research shows that MCTs help you feel fuller for longer by balancing your appetite-controlling hormones.
“Your metabolism loves it,” Cole adds. Specifically, MCTs can help your body’s metabolism become a fat burner rather than sounding the alarm bells once the glucose from food is all burned up. Research has shown that lauric acid in particular—an MCT found in coconut oil—can create a more sustained ketosis (or when your metabolism burns fat for fuel instead of glucose), and another study shows they can even increase your metabolic rate.
Translation: During a fast, you want your body to burn fat for fuel so that it’s sustained for longer without consuming extra calories. This training period takes time, though, especially if you’re brand-new to the fasting game. MCT oil can aid the body a bit during this process: “I almost see it as this sort of gateway food to fat adaptation,” says Cole, and it can help you evade those gnawing hunger pangs.