What is MCT? ( Medium Chain Triglycerides)
With a lot of buzz about MCT these days, let us actually know what MCT is and how beneficial it is to your health!
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are partially a type of man-made fat. Fats are usually made up of carbon atoms, and most of the fats in a person’s diet are made up of 13 to 21 of these atoms. These are called long chain fatty acids. In contrast, short chain fatty acids have fewer atoms. And medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) sit in the middle of the two types with about 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
MCT’s are generally made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils . MCT is used as a medication by many. Athletes use it for nutritional support during training, improving their performance and for increasing the lean mass in their body.
How does MCT work?
MCTs are processed in the body in a different way, as compared to other fats. Unlike other fats, they go directly from the gut to the liver. From here, they are then used as a source of energy or converted into ketones. As the calories in MCT’s are used straight away, they are less likely to be stored as fats in the body. This is the basis of ketogenic diets, believed by many as an effective weight loss remedy.
MCT’s have shown to have many health benefits over other fats. They have shown to improve your brain and memory function, they also give a boost to your energy levels and improve your endurance. MCT’s not only help in weight management but also lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and thereby play a potential role in diabetes management.
What is the Takeaway Message?
MCT is a quick source of energy for the body. So in conditions where your gut is not doing great and cannot metabolize fat from your diet, MCT is a good option as it will get digested and absorbed quickly as compared to other fats. Also post your workout sessions, MCT’s can help you in quick muscle recovery and prevent the breakdown of proteins that may occur when body demands excess energy.
However, anything if overdone, can prove to be detrimental!
MCT oil supplements are made from versions of food oils, and are not quite a natural product. Therefore it is preferable to have MCT through natural diet than taking supplements.
4 Dietary sources of MCT’s are -
1. Coconut Oil : Research has revealed the presence of healthy fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) which are known to benefit our body. The highest amount of MCT is found in coconut oil, followed by palm kernel oil. The MCFA's of coconut oil that are of utmost benefits to us are:
a. Lauric Acid
b. Caprylic Acid
c. Capric Acid
These fats are easily digestible. They do not get metabolized through the process of digestion like most other fats. Instead they get processed directly in the liver and easily absorbed by the body. They give a feeling of satiety for long hours and are not readily stored as fat.
2. Milk : Milk is said to have small quantites of MCT. However more research yet continues on which milk - buffalo's milk, cow's milk or goat's milk is the most benefeicial.
3. Butter : Similarly butter, being a dairy product, is also said to have some amount of MCT. This is also under research. But you can have small quantity of butter. The butter coffee is more famous these days.
4. Coconut milk: Recent research says that not eating enough fat can actually make fat. But you need to choose the type of fat correctly. And the answer is MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) – which goes directly to the liver and does not get stored as fat in body. By drinking coconut milk which has this good fat or having it in the form of a curry, it will keep you fuller and healthier for a longer time. But remember to control the portion to not go overboard on calories.
How to use MCT in your Diet
- Add it to your smoothie.
- Make it a part of your salad.
- Make your own breakfast cereal with it.
- Add it to sugar free black coffee / black tea.
Even though MCTs have a number of health benefits, it is important to remember that when a person consumes these, they are ultimately consuming fats. Taking excess MCT may add on to the calories of the person’s diet and may lead a person to gain weight. About 1 tbsp of MCT should be good to start with.
Stay informed and take the correct step towards your health!