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MCT oils

Weight loss, Diets | October 30, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

diet, weight loss, obesity

MCT oils

Want to improve your athletic performance, suppress your appetite, reduce weight or lower your cholesterol? Adding some MCT oil to your diet may be the answer. 

MCT is an abbreviated name for oils known as medium-chain triglycerides. These oils are easily digested by the body and have been found to help with exercise performance, weight loss, obesity and gut, heart and brain health. MCT are naturally sourced partially manufactured by processing oils such as coconut and palm oil. They are a less common group of fatty acids with a chemical structure of 6-12 carbon chain lengths.

By comparison most dietary fats are long-chain fatty acids.

What makes MCT unique

MCT’s molecules are smaller than most fats and they bypass the usual digestive pathway - through bile and pancreatic enzyme digestion and the lymphatic system. This makes them easier to digest and absorb into the bloodstream for use as energy and why they are useful in digestive disorders.

Where does MCT oils come from

Medium-chain triglycerides are caproic acid, caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid. !0 -20% of milk obtained from cows, sheep, goats and horses are MCT (long-chained fatty acids are the primary composition). Coconuts - more than 60-70 % of coconut oil is made up of MCT and Palm kernel oil is also a good source. Most supplemental MCT come from a mixture of coconut and palm kernel oil.

It may seem confusing using an oil to help with weight control.

So, how does it work?

Metabolic syndrome, weight loss, obesity and appetite control

MCT influence thermogenesis and satiety. Thermogenesis is a metabolic process of the body which burns calories to produce heat. Satiety is the opposite sensation to hunger and is equivalent with feeling satisfied or full.

By reducing appetite, increasing energy expenditure and reducing fat disposition in adipose tissue are the mechanisms as to why weightloss is believed to be achieved. 

MCT satisfy hunger by aiding the release of two hormones - leptin and peptide YY, suppressing the hunger signals.

The Ketogenic Diet and MCT

The ketogenic diet consists of very low-carbohydrate intake, adequate protein and high-fat. By drastically reducing carbohydrates intake the body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis.  Ketosis allows the body to become more efficient at burning fat for energy for the brain and organs; and lowers blood sugar and insulin levels offering many health benefits. MCT are ketogenic and may reduce adverse effects associated with very-low carbohydrate diets, improving time to ketosis and tolerance.

Ketones are a fuel source for the brain and body functions

The microbiota and MCT

The microbiota of the gut has been implicated in a determining factor in the development of metabolic syndrome, metabolically unhealthy obesity and in obesity-related diseases including insulin-resistance and inflammation. Healthy gut microbiota may support health in obese individuals.
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MCT improve intestinal ecosystem and permeability - helping prevent endotoxicity and improving lipid catabolism and anabolism balance within the gut.
(Catabolic process is the breakdown and use of lipids for energy and anabolic processes create biologically important molecules (triglycerides, phospholipids, second messengers, local hormones and ketone bodies).
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Lower the risk of heart disease

MCT’s can help with reducing the development of heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol and inflammation. They do this by helping with:

  • Weight loss
  • Reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol (the bad and the good)
  • Reducing inflammation (measured by levels of C-reactive protein markers)

Improve Diabetic risk factors

MCT may help improve blood sugar levels and support insulin action.

Anti-fungal and anti-microbial

Coconut oil has shown anti-microbial action against Clostridium difficile, an anti-biotic resistant- strain bacteria, and antifungal activity against candida albicans, a common human pathogen.

Exercise and performance

MCT enhances exercise endurance due to an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism. Mitochondrial biogenesis is the process of where cells increase mitochondrial mass allowing for greater glucose uptake by muscles. Glucose is the main source of energy to fuel the body and can be used immediately or stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver for later use.

Medical uses

MCT are used medically for such things as: digestive malabsorptive disorders, liver and gall bladder disease, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, Cystic fibroses and seizure disorders in children.

More is not better

Unlike eating more vegetables can be of benefit to you, to many MCT’s can have negative implications such as fat accumulation in the liver and in some instances an increase in hunger. Stick to 1-2 tablespoons added to the diet if dietary intake is lacking.

In Summary

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) are naturally occurring dietary fats from coconut oil, palm oil and dairy. They can be used to

  • To produce ketones for energy for brain and body functions
  • To enhance sport endurance and performance
  • Aid weight loss and obesity prevention by helping reduce appetite, burn fat and supress fat accumulation.
  • Lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol
  • Improve insulin resistance
  • Supress inflammatory responses

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Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health: The Potential Beneficial Effects of a Medium Chain Triglyceride Diet in Obese Individuals https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882694/

Impact of medium and long chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/

Coconut oil has less satiating properties than medium chain triglyceride oil https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938417302111

Metabolism as a tool for understanding human brain evolution: lipid energy metabolism as an example. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25488255

The Effect of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Time to Nutritional Ketosis and Symptoms of Keto-Induction in Healthy Adults: A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987302/


Regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3883043/

Medium Chain Triglycerides enhances exercise endurance through the increased mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5805166/

Consumption of a functional oil rich in phytosterols and medium-chain triglyceride oil improves plasma lipid profiles in men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12771322

Medium-chain triglycerides and monounsaturated fatty acids potentiate the beneficial effects of fish oil on selected cardiovascular risk factors in rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26878786

Effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in a group of moderately overweight free-living type 2 diabetic Chinese subjects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17570262

Medium-chain triglyceride ameliorates insulin resistance and inflammation in high fat diet-induced obese mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25911003

Are We Going Nuts on Coconut Oil? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29974400

Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24328700

Manipulation of Host Diet To Reduce Gastrointestinal Colonization by the Opportunistic Pathogen Candida albicans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27303684


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