Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are saturated fats with special properties. These properties enable the MCTs to be digested easily, and quickly converted into energy. In essence, they are fats that behave more like carbohydrates. Among MCT's unique properties is the ability to promote fat loss and inhibit fat storage.
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Sources of MCT Oil
One of the richest sources of MCTs is coconut oil, which contains about 60-percent medium chain triglycerides. Other dietary sources of MCTs include palm oil and butter. Purified MCT oil can also be purchased for cooking and as a dietary supplement. When taken as a dietary supplement, it is typically consumed in amounts of about 85 milligrams per day.
Burned as Fuel
One 1982 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” noted that medium chain triglycerides have very little propensity to be stored as body fat but rather are immediately made available as a source of energy. A 2002 paper published in the “Journal of Nutrition” also concluded that MCTs increase energy expenditure – meaning they are burned off as fuel rather than stored on the body. The paper noted that MCTs, included in the diet, can help facilitate weight loss.
Prevents Fat Storage
A 2008 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” compared olive oil and MCT oil for their effectiveness as weight loss agents. The conclusion was that MCT oil was the more effective oil in promoting weight loss. The study noted that MCT oil can be successfully included in a weight loss diet. A 2008 paper published in the “Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition” notes that MCTs can suppress the accumulation of body fat, particularly when used as a cooking oil.
MCT Oil Safety
Use of MCT oil appears to be generally very safe. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” noted that MCT oil can be incorporated into a weight loss program without any negative effects. The study notes that medium-chain triglycerides pose less risk when compared to other saturated fats on metabolic risk factors such as heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Medium Chain Triglycerides
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Medium Chain Triglycerides
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Coconut Oil
- The Journal of Nutrition: Physiological Effects of Medium Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Weight Loss Diet That Includes Consumption of Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Leads to Greater Rate of Weight and Fat Mass Loss Than Does Olive Oil
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The Application Of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids: Edible Oil With A Suppressing Effect On Body Fat Accumulation
- Journal of the American College of Clinical Nutrition: Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil Consumption As Part Of A Weight Loss Diet Does Not Lead To An Adverse Metabolic Profile When Compared To Olive Oil