MCTs: For Calories that Count; Not Just for Counting Calories!
Imagine yourself as part of a large group waiting for a table at a busy restaurant; while you patiently wait, single diners and couples seem to get seated with VIP status. Similarly, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins have their own unique and complex requirements for digestion, assimilation, metabolic assignment, or fat storage. On the other hand, medium-chain triglycerides breeze through the intestines with ease to the bloodstream, where they travel directly via the portal vein to the liver.
Unlike longer-chained fats, they do not require conversion to water-soluble molecules and then follow a detour via the lymphatic network prior to being processed within the liver. They’re also metabolized up to eight times faster than carbohydrates. Furthermore, they’re not stored as fat and don’t require the body’s limited supply of ʟ‑carnitine for transport into cells to fuel cellular respiration.
The two most popular and efficient medium-chain triglycerides are caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) fatty acids. The numerical reference notes the chain length of carbon atoms that comprise their backbone. Several dairy sources including cheese, butter, milk, and yogurt contain MCTs; however, coconut and palm kernel oils are the best natural sources of both C8 and C10 fatty acids available in supplement form. The biological activity of C8 and C10 fatty acids is the same, regardless of their source. Most popular brands are formulated with an approximate 60/40 ratio sourced from both oils.
MCTs populate many therapeutic niches. They’re a frequent addition to the diets of people afflicted with malabsorption syndrome, as an ingredient in meal-replacement beverages that target seniors, and they can morph your morning cup of brew into a functional beverage, when paired with a dollop of butter and a dash of cinnamon. Their versatility also makes them invaluable for compliance with a ketogenic diet.
With a calorie count measuring 100 per tablespoon, along with a neutral flavour, they’re convenient to add to food, beverages, or even vinaigrettes. Their rapid rate of absorption and conversion to ketone bodies by the liver make them a hybrid fuel for body and mind. Their metabolic efficiency can help with weight-management initiatives as they help satisfy hunger faster to curb appetite. MCTs can also alleviate between-meal dips in energy that can make the pace of a workday grind to a halt.
Consider MCTs as the “fuel additive” to help set the pace for your active lifestyle.