MCT Oil – the most underrated supplement
Shedding body fat and getting ripped takes determination, willpower and discipline. People are always looking for that ‘miracle supplement’, or ‘silver bullet’ to make it easier. Truth be told, nothing will make it easy. You are still going to have to work your butt off. However, there are a few tips and tricks that could help get you there quicker. One such tip is increasing your intake of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) or MCT oil.
What is MCT oil?
MCT oil is a fat produced from coconut oil and palm kernels. Sometimes people just refer to it as coconut oil.
Now before you ask, “how is increasing my fat intake going to help?” you need to realize that not all fats are created equal.
Most dietary fat is made up of Long Chain Triglycerides (LCT’s), consisting of 12-18 carbon atoms per chain. Medium Chain Triglycerides on the other hand are shorter, consisting of 6-10 carbon atoms per chain. Because of this difference in structure, the two fats have vastly different properties.
What makes MCTs useful?
Due to the reduced chain length, MCTs are absorbed and then metabolized very rapidly. They are very efficiently converted into fuel for immediate use, instead of being stored as fat. They are used as energy much faster than glucose and have over twice the calories per gram, making them an excellent energy source during intense exercise.
MCT oil can help you get in shape for the following reasons:
1. It improves endurance and athletic performance:
MCT’s ability to rapidly be used as a fuel source and improve athletic performance has attracted the attention of athletes in recent years.
Animal studies have shown the ability of MCTs to improve athletic performance and endurance. In one such study whereby mice were subjected to swimming capacity tests, those fed a diet containing MCTs outperformed those fed a diet containing LCTs.
The researchers also found that the mice fed MCT’s produced the key energy ‘creating’ enzymes (3-oxo acid CoA-transferase, citrate synthase and malate dehydrogenase) at much higher levels than the mice fed the LCT diet. The MCT-fed mice also burned fat at higher rates which further enhanced energy production.
2. It promotes fat burning (Thermogenesis):
Human studies have shown the ability of MCT oil to enhance thermogenesis (fat burning).
In one study, researchers fed six lean and six obese young men a meal containing either LCT’s only, or a mixture of LCT’s and MCT’s. In both the obese and lean individuals, thermogenesis was enhanced after consuming the meals containing MCT’s.
Another study conducted in Czechoslovakia concluded that the administration of MCT’s can improve the long-term success of diet therapy in obese patients.
3. MCTs increase metabolic rate:
There is mounting evidence to support the fact that MCTs increase your metabolic rate.
Studies have shown that replacing dietary LCTs with MCTs increased the daily energy expenditure (metabolic rate) in men and women. So,assuming your calorie intake and exercise remain unchanged, any increase in metabolic rate through the addition of MCTs to your diet will result in the loss of bodyfat.
MCTs have also been shown to improve satiety of meals, meaning you feel fuller, and satisfied quicker, making you less likely to over-eat and ingest too many calories.
4. MCTs maintain muscle mass:
MCTs assist in preventing muscle breakdown in a number of ways.
Firstly, they promote the production of ketones, which are used as an energy source in the muscles before amino acids (which become available through muscle breakdown), thereby delaying muscle catabolism (breakdown).
Secondly, they are able to act as amino acid ‘carriers’, helping to assimilate proteins inside the muscle, which further aids in preventing muscle loss and breakdown.
MCTs have also been shown to delay muscle glycogen depletion, as they are used preferentially over glycogen as a fuel source, thereby preserving muscle glycogen and improving endurance. This fact is especially useful for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists etc.)