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The Benefits of MCT Oil

The Benefits of MCT Oil | Mr Vitamins
Medium Chain Triglycerides are a novel type of fat found in small amounts in dairy foods like butter and cheese, and in palm oil, and coconut oil (especially a specific fatty acid called 'lauric acid') in coconut oil. MCTs aren't digested and absorbed in the same way as normal dietary fats and this gives them interesting benefits for health and performance. They have been researched extensively for their many benefits that include:
  • Encouraging the creation of brain- and body-friendly ketone fuels
  • Improved mood and cognition (mental performance)
  • Reducing the time taken to reach 'nutritional ketosis'
  • Reduced symptoms of carbohydrate restriction commonly known as 'keto-flu'
  • Increased fat-burning

MCT - A brain- and body-boosting ketone fuel...

Compared to other types of fats, MCTs increase ketogenesis, the process, in the body, of producing 'ketone bodies' to use as fuel. These 'ketone bodies' (usually just called 'ketones') can be used as a preferred fuel by most tissue in the body, even brain cells!

Helping you get into and stay in ketosis

Ketogenic diets were originally used with great success to treat childhood epilepsy and have been used for this purpose since the 1920s. Since that time, ketogenic and other low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF) diets have demonstrated a host of benefits for many other health conditions, weight and fat-loss, and for improving sports (especially endurance) performance. When ketogenic diets were first being investigated, they relied heavily on fasting, and on extremely high-fat diets (with up to 80% of calories from fat) to achieve nutritional ketosis. This became known as the Johns Hopkins Protocol (after the university hospital of the same name) and is now commonly called a 'classic' or 'standard' ketogenic diet. In the 1970s researchers demonstrated that a ketogenic diet could have as little as 60% calories from fat and much more protein and carbs, and still achieve the same levels of blood ketones if the diet included a high proportion of medium chain MCTs. More recently, my team and I have also demonstrated that MCTs reduce symptoms of 'keto-flu' and might help induce ketosis more quickly.

Increased fat loss

Diets rich in MCTs promote greater fat-burning and weight/fat-loss than those containing an equivalent amount of standard dietary fat. They have been shown to have a particularly positive effect on fat in and around the midsection (internal and external 'belly fat'), which we know to be a risk factor for heart health and is an indicator of increased risk of metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes). MCTs also help us to stick to a healthy diet more easily, by reducing voluntary food intake, increasing the desired time between meals, and improving our portion control. Even relatively low intakes of MCT (as little as 15 g per day or 1 Tbsp.) as part of the diet, enhance how many calories we burn day-to-day.

Improved mood and mental performance

The ketones created when we take MCT oils increase 'mitochondrial efficiency' (how efficiently we use fuels, especially fat-for-fuel) and help to supplement the brain's normal reliance on glucose. For this reason, MCT supplemented diets improve mental performance in those with Alzheimer's Disease and other age related cognitive decline.  They have also been shown to aid cognition and protect against the effects of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in diabetics. In our research, we have observed that MCTs improve mood in those following a ketogenic diet (paper currently in peer-review).

Improved cardiometabolic health

MCTs raise serum triglycerides (fats in the blood), less than standard dietary fats.  High triglycerides are a key indicator heart disease and stroke risk and are one of the first markers that clinicians look to reduce. Experimental studies demonstrate that dietary MCTs reduce fat deposition, increase thermogenic rate (calories burned) and fat burning. Additionally, several reports suggest that MCTs help preserve insulin sensitivity, both in animal models and patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

Greater muscle retention post-injury and while dieting

Due to the easily used nature of MCTs, they can help to reduce muscle and other tissue breakdown after injury or trauma, and improve fat-loss while helping to preserve muscle while dieting.

And more!

Animal research further suggests a role for MCTs in the treatment of cancer, ulcerative colitis, 'leaky gut', inflammatory disorders, and depression. The bottom line: Whether you're on a keto-diet or not, MCTs provide a great source of fuel that can help to improve your mental and physical performance and help you to more easily maintain your optimal body shape.

written by Cliff Harvey ND, Dip.Fit, PhD (c)

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