When it comes to the topic of fat and its role in their diet, people can sometimes make assumptions that will undermine their end goals and weight loss. Fat does play a key role in medical diets. However, it’s not just any fat that should be factored in. MCTs, or Medium-Chain Triglycerides, have benefits for your health that can far outweigh any fears about fats.
What Is an MCT?
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of fat that’s partially synthetic, which is to say, it’s partly man-made from certain sources of high saturated fat. The carbon atoms in fatty acids can align in different ways. For instance, fats in most of the food you eat on a regular basis are long-chain triglycerides.
MCTs Come from Saturated Fat but Are Not the Same Thing
MCTs are created by processing naturally existing fats, usually palm kernel oil or coconut oil, in a laboratory. By changing the chemical structure, the impact it has on the body is changed in order to use it medicinally. One benefit of MCTs is that they’re broken down much more quickly, and they’re sent directly to the liver to either become an instant energy source or ketones, which can support the heart and the brain. This also means that MCTs are significantly less likely to become fat carried on the body.
Generally, MCTs are used to benefit patients with food absorption disorders like steatorrhea, which can be caused by a number of factors, including lactose intolerance or certain bacterial infections of the digestive system. It can also be indicative of larger problems, including cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease.
MCTs are also a critical component for treating critically ill or injured patients. These patients are at risk for muscle breakdown, so MCTs are administered intravenously as a preventative measure.
There are other medical uses for MCTs being studied. In some cases, it’s believed it to help prevent the damage to memory and idea processing centers caused by Alzheimer’s disease by providing additional energy to the brain. It can also be used by patients with Type 2 Diabetes to reduce risk factors, including body weight and insulin resistance.
Dieting and Athletics
Because of how MCTs function, athletes tend to be interested in using them as nutritional support. They not only improve athletic performance thanks to improved energy, but they help the body burn body fat and make it easier to build lean muscle mass.
Of course, that also means that others want to use MCTs purely for weight loss. While a variety of studies have been conducted, there is not yet a formal consensus on the physiological role MCTs play in weight loss. Evidence suggests they stimulate calorie burn, lift the sense of fullness (i.e., reduces the desire for food intake), and slows down weight gain. In some cases, MCTs can modestly stimulate actual weight loss.
Should You Use MCTs for Weight Loss?
If you’re trying to lose weight and you haven’t found lasting success with other methods, you may be wondering if MCT oil’s benefits make it a good choice for you and your weight loss goals. Unfortunately, there’s no generalized way to answer that. It’s going to depend largely on how your body chemistry, your overall health (such as if you have any chronic diseases), and your ultimate goals. In order to get that complete medical picture and use MCTs in their proper context as a medical tool, we suggest you use techniques such as MCTs for weight loss as advised by a doctor through a medically-supervised weight loss program. A doctor can better understand your exact needs and tailor a medication, exercise, and diet program to fit them.
Ultimately, MCTs have a beneficial role as a medicine that supplements and enhances the body’s ability to produce energy, build lean muscle, and absorb necessary nutrients. But it’s important to remember that it is a medicine. While there may be benefits for you in terms of athletic training or weight loss, it ought to be used in a larger context of medically guided nutrition plans and exercise.