MCT Oil for Weight Loss and Health
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique form of dietary fat that impart a wide range of positive health and weight loss benefits. Studies suggest that the fast-metabolizing properties of MCT Oil increase thermogenesis and reduce body fat accumulation without any adverse effects on cholesterol or blood lipids. MCT oil, when it is metabolized in the body, behaves more like a carbohydrate than a fat.
MCT Oil may help increase energy and endurance while enhancing the results of diet and exercise. Dietary fats are molecules composed of individual carbon atoms linked into chains ranging from 2 to 22 carbon atoms in length. Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs) ranging from 12 to 18 carbons long are the predominant form of fat in the American diet. MCTs, by contrast, are composed of only 6 to 10 carbon links.
Because of their shorter chain length, MCTs have a number of unique properties which give them advantages over the more common LCTs.
MCTs, Energy, and Exercise
MCTs provide about ten percent fewer calories than LCTs – 8.3 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9 calories per gram for LCTs. But this is just one of the unique advantages of MCTs. More importantly, reduced chain length means that MCTs are more rapidly absorbed by the body and more quickly metabolized (burned) as fuel. The result of this accelerated metabolic conversion is that instead of being stored as fat, the calories contained in MCTs are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use by organs and muscles.
The energy-enhancing properties of MCTs are attributed to the fact that they cross the double mitochondrial membrane very rapidly, and do not require the presence of carnitine, as do LCTs. Calorie-restricted diets are often associated with marked declines in energy. A number of studies support the benefits of using MCTs in weight loss programs to boost energy.
MCTs and Weight Control
In addition to their lower caloric content than LCTs, MCTs are not stored in fat deposits in the body as much as LCTs. Furthermore, MCTs have been shown to enhance thermogenesis (i.e., fat burning). So MCTs seem to offer a triple approach to weight loss – (1) they have a lower calorie content than other fats, (2) are minimally stored as fat and (3) contribute to enhancing metabolism to burn even more calories. This third property may be due to the fact that MCTs behave metabolically and promote the development of ketones.
MCTs have been shown to suppress appetite, an ability of obvious benefit for those attempting to lower their intake of total calories. In one 14-day study, six healthy male volunteers were allowed unlimited access to one of three diets: a low MCT diet, a medium MCT diet. The researchers noted that substituting MCTs for other fats in a high-fat diet “can limit the excess energy intakes and weight gain produced by high-fat energy-dense diets.”
The production of Ketones is a cornerstone of the HCG Diet and other VLCDs (very low-calorie diets). MCTs may enable those following the HCG diet to more rapidly obtain benefits and more easily utilize fat for energy (glucose, being the other). One study compared the effects of diets in which rats were provided fat by either MCTs or lard. The MCT-fed rats lost significant weight, although their calorie consumption was the same as the lard-fed rats.
In another study, researchers observed increased weight gains, reduced fat content and unchanged whole-body protein content in MCT-fed animals compared to control animals fed LCTs. In a third study, fat deposits in rats fed diets high in MCTs were 23 percent less. Animal results have been supported by human trials. In one study researchers fed six lean and six obese young males meals containing either long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) or MCTs plus LCTs. In both the lean and obese individuals, post-meal thermogenesis (fat burning) was enhanced after consuming meals containing MCTs. In another study involving a group of obese women on a restricted diet, researchers noted that insulin profiles improved when MCTs comprised 24 percent of total consumed calories.
HCG Diet & MTC Oil
MTC oil has a shorter chain structure so it is easier to digest than longer chain triglycerides. MCT oil, when it is metabolized in the body, behaves rather more like a carbohydrate than a fat. The fuel of preference for the body is carbohydrates, and the body will use up its store of carbohydrate before using other fuels.
Unlike other fats, MCT oil does not go into the lymphatic system; instead, it is transported directly to the liver where it is metabolized, so releasing energy quickly, just like a carbohydrate, and creating lots of ketones in the process. MCT oil can be used as a source of fat in the classical ketogenic diet. It offers a number of advantages:
- MCT oil is more “ketogenic” than other fats, so when it is used, it may be possible to operate the diet at a lower ratio, which gives greater flexibility in the choice of foods.
- Because it is fast acting, it can be used as a ketogenic pick me up, for example by giving additional MCT oil in the morning to boost ketones quickly.
- MCT oil is also a laxative, which is often a useful thing with the ketogenic diet.
MCTs” are medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits, ranging from improved cognitive function to better weight management. Coconut oil is one great source of MCTs — roughly 62–65 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs — but recently more concentrated “MCT oils” have also been growing in popularity.
MCTs, also called “MCFAs” for medium-chain fatty acids, are believed to be largely missing from the diets of people eating “standard Western” diets, most likely because the public has been led to believe that all forms of saturated fats are potentially harmful. However, recent research has shown a lot of evidence about the real truth regarding saturated fats.
We now know that ideally MCT oils like coconut oil should actually be consumed every day. Certain saturated fats, especially MCTs and other healthy fats found in things like coconut oil or grass-fed beef, are in fact easier to digest than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and might even have more benefits related to heart health, obesity prevention, and brain health, too.
In fact, traditional populations living in tropical areas have been consuming saturated fats, including sources of MCTs like coconuts, for thousands of years without any ill effects — so consider the idea that a low-fat diet is “healthy” to be one of the biggest nutrition lies there ever was!
Aside from coconut oil, smaller amounts of MCTs can also be found in certain other foods with saturated fats including butter (especially butter from grass-fed cows), cheeses, palm oil, whole milk and full-fat yogurt.
What Makes MCT Oils So Special?
MCTs get their name because of the length of their chemical structure. All types of fatty acids are made up of strings of connected carbon and hydrogen. Fats are categorized by how many carbons they have: short-chain fats (like butyric acid) have fewer than six carbons, medium-chain fats have between 6–12 carbons and long-chain fats (like omega-3s) have between 13–21.
What makes MCTs a top source of essential healthy fats?
Medium-chain fats are digested easily and sent directly to your liver, where they have a thermogenic effect and the ability to positively alter your metabolism. This is one reason why many people claim that MCTs, including coconut oil, are burned by the body for energy, or “fuel,” instead of being stored as fat.
Compared to longer-chain fats, MCTs are absorbed more easily since there’s less work for the body to do breaking apart carbon bonds. MCTs are smaller, so they can permeate our cell membranes more easily and don’t require that we use special enzymes in order for our bodies to utilize them.
MCTs and saturated fats are good for you in other ways, too: They reduce the risks of low-fat diets, and they’re supportive of your gut environment, especially since they have the capability to combat harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Additionally, MCTs contain antioxidant properties, which is why coconut oil has far-reaching inflammatory benefits that have led it to be used to treat dozens of health problems in folk medicine for centuries.
- Medium-chain fatty acids are capable of helping you:
- Maintain a healthy weight — since they both make you feel full
- Specifically reduces stored body fat — since they also raise your metabolic function
- Have more energy
- Think more clearly
- Experience better digestion
- Balance hormone levels
- Improve your mood
- Fight bacterial infection and viruses
- Absorb fat-soluble nutrients from various foods