MCT Supplement Guide: A Good Fat Source For Increase Energy
1. What is it and where does it come from?
Medium Chain Triglycerides are fatty acids that are more easily digested by the body than other fats. MCT oil is composed of caprylic and capric fatty acids.
Caprylic acid is often removed from MCT oil and used for cosmetic purposes. It also goes by the name octanoic acid. Capric fatty acid is often used in food flavoring, and goes by the name of decanoic acid.
Fat molecules are structured in "chains." As the name implies, Medium chain triglycerides are shorter than the long chain triglycerides. This makes them more easily digested than long chain triglycerides.
As the graphic illustrates, MCT's have between 6 and 12 carbon atoms in their structure. Long chain triglycerides have more atoms in their composition. Because they have shorter chains than long chain triglycerides, the chain triglycerides are less calorically dense. Regular fat molecules have 9 calories per gram, whereas MCT molecules have only 8.3 calories per 1 gram.
Medium chain triglycerides are available in supplemental form, but dietary sources include: coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butter. Medium chain triglyceride oil does not have any noticeable smell, is a liquid at room temperature, and has a slight yellowish color.
2. What do they do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Medium chain triglycerides are more easily digested by the body than other fat molecules. Medium chain triglycerides are also a direct energy source for the body. In this sense, they mimic the function of a carbohydrate.
Consumption of medium chain triglycerides has been shown to encourage caloric thermogenesis at a rate greater than if MCT consumption had not occurred. The body can use MCT's for a number of purposes. These include being used for muscle energy, fat burning, and for the production of adenosine triphosphate.
Although conflicting data has arisen regarding the efficacy of medium chain triglycerides for weight loss, anecdotal evidence continues to mount that MCT's are effective for weight loss and athletic performance.
From scanning the literature, it is clear that medium chain triglycerides are effective only under specific circumstances. Much of the literature has demonstrated that, in many cases, medium chain triglycerides have proven ineffective at eliciting weight loss, or enhancing athletic performance.
Two studies suggest that MCT's are most effective when used in conjunction with a ketogenic diet. This would make sense as MTC are metabolized into ketongenic molecules. MCT's are sometimes used as one of many elements in the treatment of seizures.
3. Who needs them and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Although there are no symptoms of deficiency, everyone may benefit from supplementing with medium chain triglycerides.
Often, people will consume foods that are high in saturated fat. Simply because of this, medium chain triglyceride oil is a healthy, natural, alternative. Populations that may benefit from medium chain triglyceride supplementation include: the obese, endurance athletes, ectomorphs and more.
Obese persons may find MCT consumption helpful toward the goal of weight loss. Fat molecules are calorically dense, and consumption of healthy fats (as a substitute for bad fats) will lead to a feeling of satiation and fullness. Consumption of good fats will allow one to reduce food cravings, feel a sense of fullness, and avoid the accumulation of body fat that is associated with the consumption of bad fats.
Because MCT's are used by the body as a direct source of energy, endurance athletes may find them to be a preferable and long-lasting energy source when undergoing physical exercise.
Hardgainers may find medium chain triglyceride supplementation to be helpful in the quest to gain mass, without the side effects associated with consuming other fat molecules (fat storage). They will effectively provide the hardgainer with the means to increase caloric intake, without adding body fat.
4. Are there any side effects? How much should be taken?
The only noted side effect of MCT consumption occurs when MCT's are taken on an empty stomach, and if in great quantities. Irritation can occur under these circumstances.
Research has established that MCT's are safe for human consumption. Still, individual tolerance will vary. Individuals with gastrointestinal issues should avoid the use of MCT's. Diabetics should consult with a qualified medical practitioner prior to the use of MCT's. Dosage guidelines have not yet been established, so it is best to follow label directions.