What is MCT?
MCT, or medium chain triglycerides, is a fatty acid that is composed of 6-12 carbon atoms. MCT oil is said to have multiple health benefits.
Such benefits include improved cognitive function, weight loss, improved gut health and energy, and anti-inflammatory factors. They are found in many foods, such as butter, coconut oil and dairy products. MCT oils are easily digested by the body, and are sent to the liver, where they can enhance your metabolism. But how effective is MCT in promoting fat burn? Is it worth the hype? Let’s find out!
What’s the theory behind MCT oil?
The theory is that MCT oil can optimize energy utilization, as well as boost your metabolism to burn fat and prevent its storage.
Followers believe that MCT oil is metabolized in the body as a carbohydrate, rather than a fat. Therefore, as carbs readily provide glucose to the body and are metabolized by the liver, MCT oil functions in the same way, providing lots of ketones in the process for energy.
Following up to the last point, other theories also believe that MCT is digested differently to conventional fats, due to molecular differences. Long chain triglycerides are digested into fat droplets through an elaborate digestive process. These eventually circulate the lymphatic system until they enter the bloodstream and get absorbed and stored as fat. How are MCTs different? Well, for starters, they are a smaller molecular structure, and are easily absorbed in the body as they are more likely to be soluble in water. Therefore, MCTs do not enter the lymphatic system and go through that process.
So, MCT oil can be used for energy, as well as prevent fat storage. Sounds great, right! Let’s see what the scientific evidence has to say.
What do scientific studies say?
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the effects of MCT oil vs olive oil on weight management. The shocking evidence showed that participants that consumed MCT oil had a lower ending bodyweight than those who consumed olive oil. There was also evidence of greater fat loss with the MCT consumption. (1)
Another study looked at the effects of MCT on fat burn and weight reduction, compared to other fats. Between the different fat groups, those who consumed MCT had substantial weight loss and fat loss after the trial! (2)Therefore, this supports the theories that MCT oil can reduce fat in the body and promote weight loss.
Looking specifically at fat oxidation, a study in 2003 observed the effects of consumption of MCT on obese women. The participants were divided into an MCT and LCT group. And again, MCT was found to be more effective at enhancing fat metabolism than the LCT group. (3).
I’m sold! Give me that MCT!
Not so fast! With anything, there are health risks that come with taking supplements and weight loss solutions. Although emerging evidence suggests that MCT oil can help in weight management and fat loss, you have to be careful and do your research. This supplement is not recommended for those who have diabetes, high cholesterol, and gastrointestinal issues. Always consult your doctor before you take any sort of supplementation!
MCT oil is more effective at enhancing fat loss and preventing fat storage than other conventional fats. This is due to the different digestion process and molecular structure. However, more research is needed in the area as it is still a relatively new topic.
1) St-Onge MP1, Bosarge A. Weight-loss diet that includes consumption of medium-chain triacylglycerol oil leads to a greater rate of weight and fat mass loss than does olive oil. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):621-6.
2) Tsuji H1, Kasai M, Takeuchi H, Nakamura M, Okazaki M, Kondo K. Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2001 Nov;131(11):2853-9.
3) St-Onge MP1, Bourque C, Jones PJ, Ross R, Parsons WE. Medium- versus long-chain triglycerides for 27 days increases fat oxidation and energy expenditure without resulting in changes in body composition in overweight women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jan;27(1):95-102.