Unless you’ve spent the better part of the past 5 years hiding under a Himalayan pink salt lamp, you’ve probably stumbled across “keto” coffee on offer at your local cafe, an amalgam of coffee, and MCT oil.
MCT is shorthand for Medium Chain Triglycerides. Triglycerides, themselves, are lipids, commonly referred to as fats, found in your blood, and most people recognise the word if they’ve ever had their blood cholesterol tested. But don’t buy into the cancel culture surrounding fats; triglycerides are inherently good fats and are primarily stored as energy.
Ok, buckle up, because this is when we truly geek out. Your body digests MCT oil differently to other fats ingested, even coconut oil, the closest living relative to MCT. Because of their shorter molecular chains (reminder: they’re ‘medium chain’), MCTs are more easily broken down by your system and converted into medium-chain fatty acids. This efficiency creates a ready-to-use energy store. As a result, and confirmed by the research, MCT supplementation supports brain health, exercise endurance and feelings of satiety.
With the benefits of MCT oil now science canon, we engaged two MH editors to trial Melrose MCT Oil for a week and document the effects. After all, who couldn’t use a little mental and physical boost as we prepare for our release from lockdown.
Like a lot of people I have a love-hate relationship with pre-workout formula. Love the burst of energy it gives you, not such a fan of the chew-your-face-off intensity that leaves you feeling jittery. So, when I was told about Melrose’s ‘Energy and Exercise’ MCT Oil, I was intrigued. Perhaps this is what I’ve been missing, a natural alternative to help give me that extra kick, minus the feeling of an impending panic attack? To find out, I put the oil to the test.
First things first: how to take it. The Energy and Exercise Oil is derived from coconuts, so for the first few days I took an old-school approach and simply swallowed a teaspoon of the concoction a few minutes after waking. The taste is inoffensive and while this did the trick for a few days, I soon found adding the oil to my morning coffee the best approach, leaving my long black with just the smallest hint of coconut. Delicious.
Each morning after taking the oil, I went about my daily workout. Because I tend to exercise on an empty stomach, I can often feel a little under-energised toward the latter end of my workout. While the effect of the oil is (thankfully) more subtle than pre-workout mix, I felt like I was running on a full tank of gas. So far so good. The most telling sign, however, was found in my performance during said workouts. Now, for a quick bit of background, I have worked out nearly every day since my mid teens. It rarely seems a chore; if anything I relish the feeling. However, since lockdown struck and my routine got thrown out of wack, I have been left feeling a little unmotivated. This isn’t to say I stopped entirely, just that my sessions have been lacking in intensity. Since I started taking the MCT Oil, I have found myself going the extra mile. Literally.
Sure, it’s difficult to quantify if this is down to the oil or some other factor at play. But the thing is, whatever way you look at it, the stuff worked. Because, not only is the MCT Oil full of nutrients that can be turned into energy stores – and I’m sure scientists and nutritionists could talk for days on its benefits – one of the other side effects is the fact it promotes a positive routine. Starting my day with the oil set me on a track for success. After my morning dose, there was no chance of me deciding not to train. Instead, it lit a fire under me (albeit a slow-burning one) that put healthy habits in motion. Wake up, coffee with MCT, workout, shower, hit the desk. And I’ve been focussed and energised each step of the way. Is it the oil? Or some combination of multiple factors? Who knows, but I’ll take another order, thanks.
Fuel for exercise and energy? Tick. Fuel for the brain? Tick. 100 per cent natural? T…ICK.
On claims alone, Melrose’s MCT Oil had me. But journalists being journalists, trials and research are always necessary. And hey, if even half of these benefits were scientifically backed, then it seemed I was on the precipice of an untapped training edge. Thankfully for my newly endurance-based training routine, the science behind MCT backs Melrose’s claims, and if anything, they’re slightly modest.
Due to ongoing lockdowns and lack of access to the machinery and ergs that facilitate my usual CrossFit training, I recently decided to turn my attention back to running. Built like a human greyhound, running seems like the natural fit for me, however 4 months of solid weightlifting had left my lungs burning after the first 5 kay trot. There was no way I’d reach my 10km government enforced limit without some supplementation.
Enter Melrose MCT oil. MCT oil is reportedly more effective for endurance exercise when taken with carbohydrates, so I decided to add a spoonful each morning to my smoothie adding to the energy uptake. Whilst mostly tasteless, the subtle hint of coconut flavour in MCT oil complimented my daily banana, spinach, frozen mango, oats milk and coconut yoghurt concoction. Having spent most of 2021 supplement-free (I resolved to attempt to get all my nutrients from a balanced diet), the addition of one supplement alone allowed me to attribute any benefits and changes in my physiology to the MCT oil. The addition of MCT (and oats for added carbs) kept me fuller for longer, and the chocolate in my friends is edging dangerously closer to the ‘best by’ date thanks to a new lack of snacking. Satiety? Yet another tick.
Whilst it’s reported that MCT oil should be taken over a course of at least 4 weeks for the benefits to become obvious, satiety wasn’t the only immediate result I recognised. I was comfortably banging out 6kms daily by the end of my week-long trial. Still somewhat breathless, my muscle soreness is down, allowing me to back up my runs quicker that at the beginning of lockdown. Another pleasant side-effect: my cognition during my runs has increased. I now have awareness of my surroundings, which is extremely helpful when navigating the now-crammed pathways. Give it another 4 weeks and I’ll be comfortably reaching the limits of my LGA, and who knows, that chocolate may have expired.