MCT has become almost ubiquitous, you can hardly by a product without finding this hidden extra. Medium chain triglycerides form this acronym which may read like something that shouldn’t enter your body, it’s widely regarded as an excellent form of fuel for active people. There are some crucial factors you should know about it so that you can make more educated decisions when you’re at the check-out counter.
MCT aren’t all the same
Medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT) is any source of fat (plant or animal) that’s made up of fatty acids. Like the shapes you use to describe just about anything, fatty acids are no different and are classified as being short chain, long chain or medium chain. These are just ballpark classifications, because while there is no exact definition about the number of carbons needed to be classified as a short, medium or long-chain fatty acid, most experts define ‘medium-chain’ as containing somewhere between 6 and 10 carbons. That does leave a lot of wiggle room, but none that influences nutrient quality. Medium chain triglycerides are a form of saturated fatty acid that can seriously kick start your health by improving how focused you feel, how much energy you have to get moving. Easy wins.
MCT is not code for coconut oil
Where the misunderstanding comes into play between MCT oil versus coconut oil is that not all fats are pure sources of just one fatty acid chain. Most are blends. Yep, coconut oil is a MCT but not all MCT’s are coconut oil. Coconut oil has 10-15% caprylic acid and capric acid, which are MCTs, and the remainder of its fatty acids come from lauric acid – not a true MCT, despite what marketers might say. MCT oil on the other hand is made up of only caprylic acid (8 carbons) and capric acid (10 carbons), making it a pure source of medium chain triglycerides that does not contain any other fatty acid.
MCT love to be digested
MCTs are easy on the stomach. This is because they don’t demand as many enzymes and bile acids for digestion. If you feel sluggish or heavy when you eat coconut oil, because you thought it was an MCT oil, your body might struggle to digest those fat sources and a faster digesting source of fat, like MCT Oil might be of benefit.
The take home message is that you shouldn’t be alarmed when you see MCT’s in your favorite protein shake. They’re there to give you a little extra oomph in the easiest way possible. Your body loves to munch down on them, and you’ll be better off for including them into your supplement routine. It’s clean energy at its best. This makes them ideal to eat before and after your training sessions to fuel and refuel your workouts. Fortunately, many of the best protein powders already include MCT’s so look out for them on the back of the tub.