UPGRADED MCT OIL VS UPGRADED BRAIN OCTANE – ROUGH DRAFT
I’ve recently been using both Upgraded MCT and Upgraded Brain Octane and was wondering what the actual difference was between them. Upgraded MCT is marketed as being better for stimulating the metabolism while Upgrade Brain Octane is marketed as being better for stimulating the brain. As I was thinking about this, given the little that I know about biochemistry, it didn’t quite make sense to me, so I did what any self respecting n=1 blogger would do… I went to the forums and posed the following question:
I was wondering what is the difference in metabolism between the two, and why Upgraded Brain Octane works more for the brain while upgraded MCT is more for metabolism and brain.
Both are broken down into ketones immediately as stated on the product pages which can then be used as energy by the body and brain faster.
This purportedly bypasses the long and slow metabolic pathway of ingesting typical fats.
Now here is the part I don’t get.
The 3 ketones our bodies produce are:
1. Beta Hydroxybutyrate (BHOB) – Measured via blood ketones, and the primary metabolically active ketone
2. Acetoacetate – Measured via urine dip sticks, not very active
3. Acetone – Can be measured via breath, also not very active.
So presumably both the C8 and C10 get broken down into BHOB… so what’s the difference in effect within our body and brain?
Why does pure C8 in Brain Octane preferentially go to our brain compared to the C8 + C10 combination in MCT oil?
If anyone can refer to any literature out there describing this, I’d really appreciate it.
I’ve now gone through a bunch of research papers dating back to the 1960s, and found the original studies most cited by the current research. The most influential of the studies were done in epileptic kids in the 1980s.
I won’t include any of the citations here because it will take too long, but will provide an update to this. I’m thinking with the amount of research I’ve done, I’m going to make a series of posts… and possibly even an e-book about “everything you’ve ever wanted to know about MCT oil,” simply because I haven’t found anything good out there.
I’m still in the process of reading and digesting more papers, so this is by no means final. But here goes:
Both C8 (Caprylic acid aka Octanoic acid aka Decanoate) and C10 (Capric acid aka Decanoic acid aka Decanoate) quickly pass through the intestines and into the liver.
Once in the liver, both undergo the same 4 different fates
- Beta oxidation
- Omega oxidation
- Peroxisomal oxidation
- De novo lipogenesis
We are most interested in #1. Both C8 and C10 can bypass the normal gate keeper to the mitochondria and become oxidized into ketones which everyone agrees is good for both metabolism and the brain.
This is how they both stimulate the metabolism and are good for fat loss:
- Both satiate appetite
- Both increase metabolism
- Both decrease fat absorption peripherally.
Now here’s the cool thing about both of them. A small amount can also bypass the liver, avoiding the 4 fates listed above and become free fatty acids floating in the blood.
Then the free C8 and C10 fatty acids can cross the blood brain barrier into the brain, where they are both then metabolized by neurons and astrocytes (cells that support neurons) into acetyl-CoA to be used in the Kreb’s cycle for energy.
Now, for the perception of why C8 is better for the brain than C10: This is simply because in the original studies, the MCT oil they used was 80% C8 and 20% C10. So every study after that assumed it was the C8 that was the primary factor.
This line of reasoning lead to more studies looking into the effect of C8 on neuronal metabolism with some as recently as the past few years, exploring effects seizure patients using pure C8. This is why C8 has the reputation of being better for the brain.
Most recent studies are still using MCT oils of various constituent concentrations with C8 being 50-80%, C10 being 20-50%, and smaller varying amounts of C6 and C12. This stuff still isn’t standardized in the clinical setting.
No one has bothered looking into the effects of C10 on the brain because it was such a small proportion of the initial MCT oil concentration people were using before. Remember, C8 and C10 are derived from palm and coconut oil, so the concentrations they worked with back then likely reflected the natural concentrations found in the purification processes that were available at the time.
Now we are at a place where we can obtain pure C8. Some of the pharmaceutical grade C8 used in certain studies go for $350 per liter, so we’re getting a pretty good deal from Dave.
To revisit my initial question regarding the differences of Upgraded MCT vs Upgraded Brain Octane
Upgraded MCT Oil: C8 and C10
Upgraded Brain Octane: C8
All the research I’ve found do this date indicate that:
Both C8 and C10 are good for stimulating the metabolism
Both C8 and C10 are good for the brain
The only reason C8 has a reputation for being better for the brain is largely historical
There haven’t been any studies that I’ve come across that compare the benefits between pure C8 vs C8 and C10… and remember, studies exploring the benefits of C8 and C10 haven’t been using standard formulas, which is another confounder.
To truly answer the question I would need to see a study exploring the differences in effect on both metabolism AND brain function comparing the following:
80% C8 and 20% C10
50% C8 and 50% C8
20% C8 and 80% C10
Although I’m not entirely sure the question is even worth answering at this point
Interestingly, a research paper just came out in 2014 that I am in the process of reading that tangentially addresses the effect on neurons of C10 by itself.
Upgraded MCT Oil vs Upgraded Brain Octane – Winner?
I’ve personally used both Upgraded MCT ($29.95) and Upgraded Brain Octane ($45.95) and haven’t noticed a difference, so given the price differential, I’m probably just going to stick with Upgraded MCT from now on.
This is just a rough draft. Once I finish reading through the rest of the articles I’ll definitely include the citations and papers themselves if possible. Again I want to reiterate that there are thousands of studies looking into MCTs and I’ve done my best to find the relevant articles.
If anyone knows of any pertinent articles, please send them my way and I’ll be glad to read through them. My opinion now only reflects the data that I’ve seen and I’m more than willing to change my mind if more data is available.