You may have heard about MCT— medium-chain triglycerides— and how this type of oil is the best fat for weight loss, but didn’t know why the sudden interest. Many believe it came from the more recent interest in coconut oil, a good source of this type of fat. However, only about 50% of the fat in coconut oil is MCT. Scientists discovered that medium-chain triglycerides are metabolized differently from long chain triglycerides—LCT, which are more likely to be stored as fat, rather than used immediately for energy.
While MCT is found in coconut oil, it’s also removed from that oil and sold separately as MCT.
That removal of MCT oil from the coconut or palm oil makes it a completely new product with different benefits and drawbacks. It’s considered better for weight loss, since it’s better for producing keytones and encouraging ketosis. Studies also show that compared to coconut oil, it can promote more weight loss by increasing metabolism, while also decreasing appetite and providing a feeling of fullness.
Besides weight loss, MCT oils may be good for athletes for other reasons.
If you find yourself running out of juice in the gym or at work, MCTs can be an instant source of energy, since they’re quickly absorbed and an immediate source of energy that doesn’t require being broken down by the liver. MCT oil may also help prevent the buildup of lactate buildup, too. In one study, athletes took about a teaspoon and a half with their pre-exercise food and found their exercise was easier, when compared to taking long-chain triglycerides.
There are drawbacks to adding MCT oil to your diet.
There are always drawbacks to most weight loss aids. One of those with MCT oil is that it can actually increase your appetite. Your body produces hormones that help regulate your hunger cycle, ghrelin and leptin. Leptin is the satiety hormone that makes you feel full. Ghrelin and neuropeptide Y are the hunger hormones. When anorexic individuals were given MCT, it increased the production of the hunger hormones and stimulated their appetite. There’s also some research to indicate fat accumulation in the liver from use of MCT oil.
- Using MCT oil before you exercise may help you burn more fat. At this point, studies are mixed. In animal studies, it showed improvement in athletic performance, but not in human studies.
- There are a variety of studies on the benefits of MCT oil and brain functioning. Some look at the benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and autism. There is evidence it may improve brain functioning in all these cases.
- You’re always better off getting nutrients, including MCT, from natural foods rather than using supplements. When you choose whole foods, you get other nutrients and the synergy that boosts beneficial effects.
- Before starting any exercise or nutritional program, always discuss it with your health care professional. Our program is created by a nutritionist that will create a plan to meet your goals.
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