Medium-Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs for short, are fats that are found in foods like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and grass-fed dairy products such as cheese, butter, milk, and yogurt. In counter to MCTs, there are Long-Chain Triglycerides (LCTs), as well as Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs), which are both metabolized differently. Triglycerides is just another term for fat. As you can see with MCTs, LCTs, and SCFAs the triglycerides are named after the length of their fatty acid chains and chemical structure. Triglycerides are made up from a glycerol molecule and three fatty acids. Each variation of these fatty acids contains different amounts of carbons. For MCTs the four main fatty acids include:
- Caproic acid/Hexanoic acid (C6)
- Caprylic acid/Octanoic acid (C8)
- Capric acid/Decanoic acid (C10)
- Lauric acid/Dodencanoic acid (C12)
When it comes to fats in our diets, the majority is made up of LCTs. Since MCTs have a shorter chain length, they are broken down and absorbed by your body more quickly. Since the absorption process happens quicker, MCTs can be fast sources of energy while also being less likely to be stored as fat. When it comes to increasing MCTs in your diet, achieving this can be done by consuming whole foods that contain more MCTs or taking a supplement like MCT oil. Each food and supplement have different MCT compositions. To achieve the highest level of MCT intake, you should research the foods and supplements that best work in your diet. As mentioned previously MCTs can be found naturally in foods such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and grass-fed dairy products such as cheese, butter, milk, and yogurt. While MCT oil has a high concentration of MCTs, it is a manufactured product achieved by removing and separating MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.
One of the biggest reasons MCTs have gained popularity recently is they are claimed to aid in weight loss by reducing calorie intake, increasing the feeling of fullness, less likely to be stored as fat, and increasing the bodies capability to burn fat and calories. While some claim increasing MCTs aids in weight loss, studies have found the results to be indifferent. One of the main health benefits that has been proven with MCTs is the ability to increase mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are rod-shaped organelles found in every complex organism. They are considered the power generators of cells by converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which in return is used as a source of energy. When it comes to mitochondria the preferable source of sustenance is MCTs, not sugars or glucose from carbohydrates. Therefore, most people feel “sluggish” after eating foods high in carbohydrates. MCTs can also aid in lowered cholesterol levels, increased gut health/better digestion, improved mood, and improved immunity.
Overall, MCTs are considered “good fats”. Many people who follow a standard western diet are believed to be deprived of MCTs. One of the main reasons for this is many people simply do not eat fresh, whole foods on a regular basis. Most of us are also led to believe that all forms of saturated fats can be bad for us. While this statement is simply not true, there is a substantial difference between “good fats”, like MCTs, and “bad fats”, like foods high in sugars, and ultimately how your body uses them. MCTs have many possible health benefits and it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet. If you’re not sure where to begin, try adding MCT Oil to your coffee. It’s a fantastic way to boost your energy and increase focus. Substituting coconut oil for other cooking oils is also a great way to add MCTs to your diet. Additionally, whole food sources have several overall benefits that are not found in MCTs.