MCT stands for ‘Medium Chain Trigylerides’, another term for ‘triglycerides’ is fatty acids. Recently, athletes, bodybuilders, and diet gurus have jumped on the MCT bandwagon, embracing its fat burning and energy sustaining powers, let’s look at why.
MCTs work directly in cells to provide energy and maximise performance. They are readily oxidised in the liver leading to greater energy expenditure that is quicker and more efficient resulting in less body fat storage. MCT’s commonly feature in ketogenic diets and low carbohydrate/high fat diets where 50-70% of energy is in this form. As part of these diets MCTs show evidence of improved cognitive function, disease progression delay, greater memory performance and reduced seizure frequency in childhood epilepsy.
Other benefits of MCT’s include increased satiety (fullness) and nutrient absorption and improved blood chemistry through maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels (LDL vs HDL). It offers immune protection by aiding the control of harmful bacteria, viruses & fungi inside the body and serves as a stable building block to maintain healthy cell membranes.
Improved cognition is another great benefit as MCTs provide an alternative fuel for the brain, assisting treatment of neurological conditions with impaired brain energy metabolism, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, affective disorders, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and HIV-associated dementia.
There is some confusion about the difference between MCT oil & coconut oil. Coconut oil contains 50% lauric acid and the three capra acids (caproic, caprylic & capric) along with a few other longer chained fatty acids. MCT oil is manufactured using a process of ‘fractionation’, which is used to extract only the capra fatty acids.
As with anything in life, balance is essential therefore MCT should not solely replace other healthy fats in the diet but should be consumed as part of a “healthy” balance of fats such as organic coconut oil, grass fed ghee and butter, avocado, nuts and seeds and marbled grass feed beef and fish. It may also be taken straight as a supplemental form or added to food & cooking.