What Is The MCT Ketogenic Diet?

The MCT (medium chain triglycerides) ketogenic diet is a form of a low carbohydrate diet. This means that a person undertaking the diet should consume less than 20 grams (0.7 oz.) of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein per kg body weight (0.02 oz. per pound body weight) each day. Instead, the individual relies on other energy sources such as coconut oil, cheese, butter and Greek yogurt. This diet was designed by a medical doctor in the 1920s as a means to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in her patients, especially since there were not many anticonvulsants available. More recently it has resurfaced because of its role in weight loss as well as a form of alternative treatment for other conditions.

How The Diet Works In The Body

The body is able to use carbohydrates, proteins, and fats as a source of energy. However, the chemical reactions that produce energy in the body require glucose in order to begin. Carbohydrates are a major source of glucose and so they are preferentially metabolized when they are available in the body. When carbohydrates are restricted, the body switches to using proteins and fats to make glucose and produce energy. This produces a byproduct called ketones. The brain is able to use ketones as an energy source. These chemical reactions cause increased weight loss and an increase in the number of cell powerhouses (mitochondria) in the brain. This stabilizes the activity of the brain cells, which is also able to reduce the onset of seizure activity for epileptic patients.

Why MCT Fats Are Better

Fats from our diet come in three forms depending on the length of their fatty acids. These are short-chain triglycerides, medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and long chain triglycerides. When long-chain triglycerides are absorbed in the intestine, they enter the lymph system, the system of vessels similar to blood vessels that carry a watery fluid called lymph (which contains some of the fats which are absorbed). It takes the long chain triglycerides a fair amount of time to arrive at the liver where most of the metabolism of fats takes place. Medium chain triglycerides and short chain triglycerides are absorbed directly into the blood and reach the liver much quicker. Therefore, they are more efficient at generating the ketones that this diet relies on. Medium chain triglycerides are better than short chain triglycerides because they can generate more ketones.

Roundup On The MCT Ketogenic Diet

While low carbohydrate diets are quite popular for weight loss, few can boast that they also have other health benefits like antiepileptic effects. This diet is well studied by researchers and there is a variety of scientific literature available on the topic. The added benefit of reducing carbohydrate intake is that it also indirectly reduces the intake of processed foods because many processed foods are very high in sugar. This also reduces the intake of harmful preservatives and flavorings. The sources of medium chain triglycerides are also not difficult to find and are relatively inexpensive. For anyone willing to follow it, it is definitely a diet worth trying.

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