Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Triglycerides, once broken down into fatty acids, are transported by large particles that are emptied into the lymphatic system called Chylomicrons. Chylomicrons help the fatty acids slowly release into circulation. This is a very lengthy digestion and, once absorbed, the fats can take several hours to enter the blood stream. Once in the blood, the triglycerides are broken down again into free fatty acids and glycerol, which helps release another hormone (Lipoprotein lipase). Once broken down again, they are able to either go through an oxidation process used to move skeletal muscles or they are converted back into triglycerides for storage. Wow! That was nerdy! We are actually going to talk about Medium Chain Triglycerides today.
These medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) are reported healthier than other fatty acids and help boost performance. There are different advantages to including these in your lifestyle. The process in which MCT’s are absorbed and utilized are completely different, but we will only slightly touch on how this works.
Instead of going through the lymphatic system before entering the blood stream, these fats go directly to the liver where they are quickly broken down and released into the blood. During the metabolism in the liver, 2 ketone bodies are produced and these can be used as an energy source. This process is much quicker than other triglycerides, and these are not stored in adipose tissue like long chain triglycerides. Because of their medium length, the MCT’s are easily oxidized by skeletal muscle. As a result of their quick and easy transportation, studies have shown that the thermogenic effect of MCT’s is double that of other fats, making it comparable to protein.
MCT’s are best used during your anytime meals and are not to be used for post workout. The post workout CHO:CHON ratio is best to follow in the anabolic window. CHO is extremely important in the post workout recovery process because you are looking for an insulin response to unlock the cells. The two most common sources of MCT’s are coconut oil and palm kernel oil
The benefits of MCT’s are:
- Quick absorption
- Skips the lymphatic system
- Produces ketone bodies for energy
- Hardly ever stored in adipose tissue
- Bile is not required for absorption
- Ketogenic, so if you are diabetic or have acidosis, it is best to stay away
- May cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting if over 500 calories a day
- If taken in excess MCT’s can cause cirrhosis