MCTs: lightning-fast energy providers
You have probably heard of saturated and unsaturated fats: this classification is often used to distinguish facts from each other. Less well-known is the division into short-chain, medium-chain, and long-chain fatty acids. MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides: medium-chain fatty acids. The length of the chain is determined by the number of carbon atoms: short-chain fatty acids have a maximum length of 5 atoms, medium-chain between 6 and 12 atoms, and long-chain fatty acids more than 12. The shorter the chain, the smaller the molecules.
All healthy fats are good energy suppliers. Your mitochondria, the power plants in all your cells, can convert fat molecules into energy. The smaller the molecules, the faster the energy production process. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids are therefore very fast energy providers.
LCTs: long-chain fatty acids release their energy slowly
Long-chain fatty acids are also energy providers, but the process takes much longer. Only 6 to 8 hours after you eat them do they arrive at your mitochondria, which can convert them into energy. If you want fast energy, then you have to look for short- and medium-chain fatty acids. Where do you find it?
Unfortunately, almost all fats we can eat (meat, fish, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, kernels) are long-chain fatty acids. Unfortunately, we cannot eat short-chain fatty acids; these are only produced in our body by healthy gut bacteria. What remains are the special medium-chain fatty acids, MCTs, and these are mainly found in coconut oil. Palm kernel oil and to a lesser extent butter, dairy, and macadamia nuts also contain some MCTs, but coconut oil is the richest source.
MCTs; are smart molecules that do not store fat, but do provide energy
Because coconut oil contains many of these special MCTs, its digestion is very different from the digestion of normal saturated fats. This is what many people, including doctors, don’t understand well. It is still thought that coconut oil is bad for us because it falls into the category of saturated fats. Saturated fats are said to be bad for the heart and blood vessels (by the way, this information is outdated anyway due to new insights).
However, coconut oil consists of about 65% MCTs. Because these are small molecules, like glucose, they can be absorbed directly into our blood from the intestinal wall and from there be taken directly to the mitochondria as a source of energy. They are therefore easy for our body to digest. They are a clean and fast fuel for your mitochondria and they are therefore not used for fat storage. Also, MCTs do not require energy from the liver, bile, and pancreas to aid in digestion, like all other fats. MCTs, therefore, has nothing to do with the cholesterol metabolism in your liver and they, therefore, do not raise your cholesterol! See how special these MCTs are?
MCT oil vs coconut oil
The MCTs in coconut oil are caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12). The lower the number, the shorter the chain, the smaller the molecule, and the faster the fatty acid can be converted into fuel for energy.
Most the coconut oil is made up of lauric acid. Officially, this still falls under the medium-chain fatty acids, but new research by biochemists shows that this fatty acid in our body, unfortunately, behaves like a long-chain fatty acid. Unfortunately!
To make better use of the benefits of the real medium-chain fatty acids, MCT oil has come on the market. This is an extract of the medium-chain fatty acids of (usually) coconut oil.
The benefits of MCT oil
Scientific research has been conducted for a long time into the special, positive effect of MCT oil on our bodies. Do you want to know which these are? Hold on tight because this could change your opinion about fats forever. I hope you put your fear of healthy fats behind you.
MCT oil can help you lose weight
There are two hormones responsible for a feeling of satiety: leptin and peptide YY. The more we feel full, the less we will eat. There are several studies that have shown that the use of MCT oil causes a feeling of fullness, so test subjects ate less. There are several studies that have shown that the use of MCT oil resulted in a lower weight, and less belly size, and even that it can help prevent obesity.
MCT oil helps to improve insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose stable
There are also studies that show that MCT oil provides more stable blood glucose levels and better insulin sensitivity. This is of great importance for diabetic patients and people who are insulin resistant. All this also helps to lose weight because, with too much insulin in the blood, the body cannot burn fat.
MCT oil can provide a beneficial, healthy intestinal flora
Health starts in your gut. The more healthy gut bacteria in your gut, the more powerful your immune system and the more energetic you will typically feel. MCT oil can help to stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria and also has a positive effect on your intestinal wall. This reduces the chance of a leaky gut or allows it to heal faster. This also helps to achieve a healthy weight: your weight is largely determined by your intestinal flora!
Taking MCT has a positive influence on our brains (think Alzheimer’s!)
Now it really gets fun! There is an increasing amount of research into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: after type 2 diabetes, this is the next epidemic that awaits us. Alzheimer’s is also called diabetes 3: there is increasing evidence that Alzheimer’s has a relationship with food.
Not only our body but also our brain is not built on the large amounts of sugars and carbohydrates that we consume every day. If you want to read more about the relationship between Alzheimer’s and nutrition, read the article: Alzheimer’s; you can do a lot more with your food than you think.
MCT oil is immediately usable fuel for the brain
Our brains mainly use glucose as fuel for energy, but they can also use ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver when the body uses the body’s own fats as a source of energy. Now note: MCT oil works in our body just like ketones. MCT oil is therefore immediately usable fuel for our brains! This goes further than just being able to think clearly and being able to work concentrated for a long time.
One study found that a single intake of MCT oil improved the short-term memory of people with Alzheimer’s. Another study found that 20 to 70 grams of MCT may slightly improve symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s. The benefits of using MTC oil in Alzheimer’s disease are promising, but more research is needed. The same applies to the use of MTC oil in epilepsy and children with autism.
Better ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol
High cholesterol is almost always a signal of inflammation in the body. Cholesterol is not the culprit in itself, but it can be a signal that something is wrong. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol and LDL the “bad” cholesterol. A study with overweight men showed that the intake of MCT oil in combination with linseed oil, among other things, decreased LDL. Another study showed that the “good” cholesterol, HDL, increased when taking MCT oil. Yet another study showed that the risk of cardiovascular disease in overweight women decreased slightly by taking healthy fatty acids, including MCT oil.
( By the way, new research shows that LDL itself isn’t bad either: only oxidized LDL means an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.)
For athletes and energetic women! How do you use it?
Fanatic athletes are always looking for more energy. MCT oil has long been known in the sports world as an extra energy source: it prevents the acidification of muscles. Why shouldn’t we energetic women also use it in our active lives? Especially if it turns out that it has so many benefits?
I’ve been using it almost daily for a year now and I feel really good about it. Good quality MCT oil is liquid and tasteless, so you can use it in everything. I pour a dash into my smoothies, juices, and salads and like to use it in my bulletproof coffee. Because MCT oil helps provide your brain with quick energy, it helps you concentrate better and longer. My tip: don’t use it in the evening, my experience is that I lie awake for a long time. As if my brain is still working at full speed!
Where do you buy good quality?
MCT oil is not (yet) for sale at supermarkets, but ordering online is no problem. The more popular MCT oil is going to become (and it will be!) the more important it is that you pay attention to its quality. Preferably choose MCT oil made from coconut oil only. An MCT oil that is a mix of caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) or just C8 is best. Always opt for oil packed in glass and not plastic.
Make the switch from a glucose burning to fat burning
If you are going to eat more and more healthy fats (good plan!) Make sure you cut down on sweets and (fast) carbohydrates. Those are the molecules that your body and brain can’t handle very well. Make the switch from a glucose burning to fat burning.