With the gaining popularity of Paleo and the Ketogenic Diet, dietary fats are becoming more popular. Health conscious individuals understand that dietary fat can provide us with energy and help us feel fuller longer.  Dietary fats also play an important role in many functions of the body such as hormone regulation and nutrient absorption.  One type of fat that may be superior to the rest is medium chain triglyceride oil. This is one fat that may actually help you achieve your fitness goals.

What is medium chain triglyceride oil?

Three chains of fatty acids make up medium chain triglycerides.  Caprylic and Capric acids are the 2 most beneficial. These two fatty acids are 6 to 12 carbons long, unlike most fats which are 16 to 22 carbons long.  Being shorter than other fats gives MCTs special properties which we can benefit from.

A unique metabolic pathway

Common fats can’t move freely in the blood, making digesting them a complex process. lymphatic vessels usually carry fats to where they are stored in big carriers called chylomicrons.  They are only then released to the bloodstream.  Common fatty acids DON’T reach the liver immediately. They aren’t immediately changed into energy, and ARE more likely to be stored in your belly and arteries.

Unlike regular fats, medium chain Triglycerides don’t need to go through all of that digestion process. They can be directly absorbed into your bloodstream and reach the vena cava, which is a direct path to your liver.  Since they don’t have any other place to go, it is very unlikely that they will be stored as other fats do.  Instead, they arrive directly to your liver making themselves available as an energy source.

MCTs and energy

Medium chain triglyceride oil is quickly transformed into energy just after arriving at your liver.

This additional source of energy comes from molecules called ketones which are released by your liver.  These “ketones” can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier to be used as energy and quickly boost cognitive function.  Ketones are one of the reasons why keto diets work the way they do, and they are available for you just after consuming MCTs.

Consuming MCTs on a daily basis will definitely change the way you feel.  You will be more energetic and will also have it easier to think straight because both your body and brain will benefit from this extra energy source.

MCTs and body fat

Other great news about MCTs is how they help you with your body fat.  First off, as we discussed previously, they are not stored as regular fats usually are. This means tha taking MCT supplements won’t likely increase your body fat or clog your arteries.  Actually, MCT supplements can do the opposite.  They are a type of fat that, interestingly enough, improves the way you burn fat.

Many different trials in animal models have shown repeatedly that MCTs have a yet enclosed fat burning potential. In these trials, using MCTs instead of fatty acids with a longer chain results in storing less adipose tissue and gaining less weight.  Additionally, these fatty acids can be helpful to avoid sugar cravings because they regulate the appetite and boost your metabolism.

So, MCTs are a good choice either if you want to build muscle using them as energy sources or lose weight through their appetite suppressing and fat burning potential.

MCTs applications for health and disease

Way beyond their fitness potential, studies have shown how medium chain triglyceride oil can be beneficial for those who have metabolic problems.  Insulin resistance is one step before type 2 diabetes.  It is a defective response to insulin that forces your body and your pancreas to create additional insulin, ultimately leading to draining your resources.  When your pancreas is exhausted from releasing all of this extra insulin, it will stop doing so, and diabetes ensues.

According to studies, MCTs can be helpful in preventing and treating insulin resistance, suppressing fat storage, and reducing the inflammation process that usually leads to type 2 diabetes.  It can be an excellent preventative measure to avoid future health problems, especially if you’re overweight.

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, thyroid problems, cystic fibrosis and many digestive issues have benefited from supplementing with medium chain triglyceride oil.  These shorter types of fatty acids are actually therapeutic in some of these cases, prevent the onset of inflammation, and aids the immune system.

Dietary sources of MCTs

You can find MCTs in a variety of products, but the most important is coconut oil.  They can be found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter, and in many other foods.  However, a word of caution if you’re looking for dietary sources of medium chain triglycerides, because they usually come along very unhealthy fats as well.

This fact has given rise to using supplements instead of dietary sources of MCTs. By isolating MCTs from foods we would avoid having all of those unhealthy fats in the process.  Out of the foods with MCTs, one of the most beneficial is coconut oil.  Yet, this type of oil has a very few amount of short-chain fatty acids (those with 8 to 10 carbons), which are more easily found in MCT oils and supplements.

When taking MCT oils, check the label, and keep in mind that all MCT supplements are not created equal.  The highest quality oils will contain almost all caprylic acid (with 8 carbons) and capric acid (with 10 carbons).  Lauric acid (with 12 carbons) is the one usually found in coconut oil, and even if it’s marketed as MCT, it does not share the beneficial properties of caprylic acid and capric acid.  Now that you know what medium chain triglyceride oil is and how to choose one, go ahead and try their energy boosting and fat burning abilities for yourself.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11880549
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3519928
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874191/