Medium Chain Triglycerides – What Are They?
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fatty acids that contain about 6 to 12 carbons. They include some of the essential fats that the body needs in order to produce energy and for other biological functions. (Essential fats are those which the body cannot make on its own) When they are absorbed in the intestine, they enter straight into the bloodstream and reach the liver quickly where they are metabolized, as compared to long-chain triglycerides that are absorbed via the lymphatic system. They are therefore a quick source of energy. When fats are broken down for energy, they produce ketones. Unlike carbohydrates, they do not cause a large increase in blood sugar, and so they do not stimulate the release of insulin, which is a fat storing hormone.
Sources Of MCTs
The three main sources of medium chain triglyceride oils are coconut oil, palm oil, and camphor tree oil. Coconut oil comes in two forms – virgin and refined, and both are appropriate sources of medium chain triglycerides. Butter, cheese, and full-fat milk are also great sources of medium chain triglycerides but they are unsuitable for vegans or lactose intolerant people. Fortunately, there is a kind of “butter” which is lactose-free, called ghee. In terms of health benefits as well as for environmental reasons, organic products and dairy products from grass-fed animals are preferable.
MCTs As Part Of A Ketogenic Diet
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to cause the body to reach ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state, where the body relies on fats as a form of energy rather than carbohydrates. The breakdown of carbohydrates causes an increase in lactic acid in the body system while a breakdown of fats causes an increase in the levels of ketones. The brain is able to use ketones as a source of energy whilst it is unable to use lactic acid as a source of energy without lactic acid first being converted back to glucose in the liver. Other organs in the body can break down the fatty acids via a process called beta-oxidation. This releases enormous amounts of energy. A ketogenic diet is a viable consideration for a diabetic person because it helps to control their blood sugars but they should only do so under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
The Health Benefits Of MCTs
Trying a ketogenic diet, especially one that relies on MCTs, provides a range of health benefits. The most notable health benefit is that by programming your body to rely on fats for energy, the body breaks down more of its own fat stores, which helps a person to lose weight. This, in turn, can lower the risk of heart disease or metabolic syndrome.
The breakdown of fats releases much larger amounts of energy than carbohydrates and it maintains the blood sugar level constant.
Essential fatty acids are important activators for the immune system as well. This means they improve the body’s ability to fight off infectious disease. Other essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, which lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the benefits of a ketogenic diet which contains MCTs. Try it, and see how it works for you.