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by Joseph Claussen January 11, 2020 3 min read

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats found in foods like coconut oil. They are metabolised differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most other foods.

Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat. 

MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver without the need for bile acids. There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones, which are substances produced when the liver breaks down fat.

Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.

Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.

 

Why add it to your daily ritual

When you start your day increasing ketones you have more mental and physical energy, less brain fog, and the ability to focus on tasks longer than if you consume sugar. You have a feeling of satiety that lasts throughout the day. When you consume sugar in the morning you are setting yourself up for the mid morning crash from the drop in blood sugar(glucose). This leads to a cycle of continually needing to eat several times throughout the day as insulin reduces blood glucose levels. This is not only disruptive and time consuming, but eventually leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, and chronic illness.

Brain Health

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function. When brain cells metabolise ketones there are less free radical oxygen molecules produced which lessens damage to the cell. Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat metabolic disfunction of the brain.

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate cognitive decline.

Weight loss benefits of MCT

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs.
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness.
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat.
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body's ability to burn fat and calories.
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted.
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are an effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Deeper Dive into the science:

 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4937039/

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29914035

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29955698

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3036795


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