What is MCT Oil?
Medium-chain Triglycerides are a type of triglycerides with two or three fatty acids with an aliphatic tail of 6 – 12 carbon atoms. It is this tail that makes this type of fat interesting and has unique benefits.
MCTs are found in palm kernel oil and coconut oil, these triglycerides can be isolated and are sold as MCT oil. MCT oil is 100% pure and ranges between the four different types of MCTs, which are categorised on the basis of the Carbon tail size:
Caproic acid (C6:0)
Caprylic acid (C8:0)
Capric acid (C10:0)
Lauric Acid (C12:0)
MCT oil is usually a mixture of Caproic acid, Caprylic acid and Capric acid as they have a higher affinity to be absorbed into the liver.
How are they metabolised?
MCTs are much easier to break down by the human body due to the tail size which results in the fatty acids being transposed to the liver at a faster rate, reducing the opportunity to be stored in fat cells. Once at the liver, they are converted to ketones. Ketones are created by the liver when it has to break down large amounts of fats.
How do they help the Keto Diet
Ketones are the primary source of the Ketogenic Diet, the ketogenic diet is when the nutritional intake of fats increases and carbohydrates, the body’s regular energy source, is reduced. When this occurs the body is starved from its usual source of energy and other pathways are opened to assure energy expenditure is met, this is known as ketosis. When the body undergoes ketosis, providing there is no calorie surplus, the body will use the fat stores more frequently and can lead to fat loss.
MCT oil is extremely beneficial to the Keto Diet as it is a fat source that can be broken down quickly and can be used as an energy source. This is the equivalent as sugar in a regular, carbohydrate-based diet. Sugars are broken down quickly to glucose and then able to be converted to ATP which is the body’s main energy source when not in state of ketosis. Therefore when on a Ketogenic diet, MCT oil can be used as a quick source of energy should the body need a boost.
There are numerous benefits which MCT oil provides, here are the notable benefits and why so many people opt in to take these fatty acids:
Promote Weight Loss
MCT oil has shown that it has the ability to release two hormones which promote the feeling of fullness in the body, these hormones are known as Peptide YY and leptin. Therefore if MCT oils are consumed in the morning, this can lead to eating less food during lunch and dinner. This results in the body entering a calorie deficit and if this is met regular, the body will use other energy sources to compensate which will lead to weight loss.
May reduce lactic acid buildup
Lactic acid buildup occurs when vigorous training happens and your body does not have enough oxygen to breakdown glucose. This can result in cramping and burning sensations in the muscles which could mean that you are not able to train as hard after this period until the body repairs itself. A study was conducted where athletes took MCT oil in the morning with food before going cycling and test results showed that they had less lactate levels than the athletes who did not take MCT oil. This means that completing the same amount of exercise, MCT oil could have the ability to prevent lactic acid buildup, meaning that your body can train harder during sessions and be able to recover quickly.
Has Antimicrobial and Antifungal Effects
MCT has been shown to have antimicrobial and antifungal effects in several studies. Coconut oil, which contains significant amounts of MCT oil has been shown to reduce the outbreak of Candida albicans on the skin. Candida is a common yeast which can cause skin infections and thrush. MCT oil has also been shown to combat against other harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile in test tube studies. Although promising, majority MCT research completed for immune support is completed in vitro, which means that the studies are completed in environments which are not in the human body.
MCT oil has the potential to become a significant supplement which anyone may want to take to help them on their fitness and health journey. With its ability to promote fat loss, sustain energy throughout the day and preventing lactic acid buildup, it is clear to see why athletes and other fitness enthusiasts have adopted MCT oil in their diet.