Why consume MCT oil?
MCTs contain true medium chain fatty acids (MCFA; esterified to the glycerol backbone), having 8 and 10 carbons (Cunnane 2015). These MCFA are efficiently and rapidly digested (in the hepatic portal system). Despite popular belief, coconut oil is not a good ketogenic fat as it contains 45-78 percent of lauric acid, which is metabolized like longer chain fatty acids (Cunnane 2015).
Unlike longer chain common fatty acids, MCFA are not stored in adipose tissue (fat storage), but rather, preferentially converted in the liver, to the ketone bodies (KBs) beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate (AcAc). These KBs are burned for energy very efficiently (following extra-hepatic mitochondrial degradation) in the heart, kidney, central nervous system (brain) and skeletal muscle.
KBs are particularly valuable energy sources when the body has limited carbohydrate stores (as in sustained exercise or after a fast). MCFA (and exogenous KBs) increase plasma KBs for at least 8 hours after MCT intake. MCFA will also spare protein degradation during sports and aging, and may improve insulin sensitivity, amongst many other physiological benefits.
Another important advantage to MCT consumption, is that KBs can be generated without the need to consume hard-to-follow, classical ketogenic diets containing very high amounts of fats (70-90% by weight), which may have adverse effects on blood lipids and digestion. These classical ketogenic diets were first developed to treat epilepsy in the 1920s, but have since been modified and developed for clinical applications, sports, and weight management (Atkins, Modified Atkins, Bernstein, Paleo, etc.). When consuming such high fat diets our bodies gradually become “keto-adapted” (as evidenced by a urine test) to effectively generate KBs (from amino acid and lipid catabolism) and burn ketones.
For MCTs to be most effective, it is still desirable to consume a diet rich in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates (which is healthy, despite our USDA Food Pyramid guidelines), but this can be a challenge for some individuals to adhere to. Of course, our followers are in a different league. Keep going and taking charge of your food choices. We believe in you. Keep C8-Keto-ing!