Why are MCTs so Good for Us?

What are MCTs?

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), as the name suggests, are fats with a medium length of carbons, 6-12, in their chain. The most commonly known natural source of MCTs is coconut oil, although butter and dairy sources also contain them, as well as MCT oil being available.

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Why are they good for us?

Due to their structure, MCTs are actually slightly lower in calories than Long Chain Fatty Acids (which have 12+ carbons), at 8.3 calories per gram, as opposed to the commonly accepted 9 calories per gram of fat. This characteristic also makes them more easily broken down and used as fuel. Hence the popularity of bulletproof coffee with high fat dieters!

MCTs produce ketones, which can be used by the brain as an alternative energy source. This may increase cognitive function and can be a preferred energy source for high intensity or endurance athletes who may be limited by depleted glycogen from carbohydrates on a high carb, low fat diet.

High MCT diets may be more satiating. Decreased appetite can make it easier to consume fewer calories, leading to a reduction in weight. A 1998 study on human males found that, when a breakfast high in MCTs was consumed, the participants opted for a lower calorie lunch than those who had a high fat breakfast from other sources.

A diet high in MCTs may be of benefit to diabetics by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal. In general, a diet low in high GI carbs, or at least concentrating them around strenuous workouts, is beneficial to prevent spikes in blood sugar. Again, this may help maintain energy and keep sugar cravings at bay.

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How Much?

There is no current medically recognised recommendation for how much MCTs should be consumed, however it is a good idea to include them in your daily fat intake as part of a varied, healthy diet.

MCT oil/coconut oil can be added to coffee, drizzled on salads, or used to flavour meat or fish when cooking! Look up keto recipes for fun baking and sweet treat ideas.

If following a very high fat diet, we would suggest making sure that you still consume plenty of vegetables with meals to get all of the vitamins and fibre that you need for optimal health.

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About the Author

Savannah Westerby. BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Instagram: @savannahwesterby

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