Benefits of MCTs
Updated: May 16, 2020
What are MCTs and why are they different from other fats?
Fats are made up of chains of carbon atoms, and most of the fats in a person's diet are made up of 13 to 21 of these atoms. These are called long-chain fatty acids.
In contrast, short-chain fatty acids are made up of 6 or fewer carbon atoms.
MCTs refers to medium-chain triglycerides that sit in the middle of the other two types. They are of medium length and made up of 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
How are MCTs metabolized by the body?
MCTs are found in coconut oil and are processed by the body in a different way to long-chain fatty acids. Unlike other fats, they go straight from the gut to the liver. From here, they are used as a source of energy or turned into ketones.
Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat, and they can be used by the brain for energy instead of glucose or sugar.
As the calories in MCTs are used straightaway, they are less likely to be stored as fat. This principle is the basis of the ketogenic diet, which many people believe is an effective way to lose weight.
BENEFITS OF MCTs:
1. Better brain and memory function
A 2016 review noted that in three studies, the brain's take-up of ketones in people with Alzheimer's was the same as in healthy people. In contrast, the brain's take-up of glucose was poorer in those with Alzheimer's than healthy people.
The reviewers also noted that ketosis has a slight beneficial effect on thinking ability for those with Alzheimer's. Ketosis is when the brain uses ketones for energy instead of glucose.
2. Energy boost and increased endurance
Supporters of MCT oil claim that it helps boost a their energy and improve their endurance while working out.
A 2009 study found that consuming food rich in MCTs, instead of longer-chain fats, improved the duration of time that recreational athletes could endure high-intensity exercise.
3. Weight loss and improved weight management
A 2003 study found that MCTs increased the calories and fat that overweight men burned. It concluded that MCTs might be helpful in the prevention of obesity and to stimulate weight loss.
A 2014 study found that MCTs led to a greater increase in the hormones that reduce appetite and made a person feel full. This was in comparison with longer-chain fats.
The evidence suggests that MCTs may play an important role in weight loss and management.
4. Lowered cholesterol
A 2009 study that looked at 40 women found that consuming coconut oil reduced bad types of cholesterol and improved good ones. The comparison was to soybean oil and taken alongside a calorie-controlled diet.
As MCT oil is high in the MCTs found in coconut oil, it is also likely to improve cholesterol levels.
5. Lowered blood sugar levels
MCTs may also help to improve blood sugar levels that plays a potential role in diabetes management.
A 2007 study found MCT improved diabetes risk factors, including insulin resistance, in a small group of participants with type 2 diabetes.
6. Microbiome & Antioxidant
MCTs can support our gut’s microbiome, leading to better digestion. They also have antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and improve overall health and performance.
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