Medium-chain triglycerides

(Known as MCT's, Medium-chain triglycerides)

tickWeight gain
tickBoosts energy
How does it work?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are fats with an unusual chemical structure that allows your body to digest them easily. Most fats are broken down in the intestine and remade into a special form that can be transported in the blood. But MCTs are absorbed intact and taken to the liver, where they are used directly for energy. Your body deals with MCTs in much the same way it deals with carbohydrates.
Who is it used for?
MCTs are unique in that they can be used by people wanting to gain weight and muscle without gaining fat. They are usually found in high-quality food supplements designed to help people gain weight.
How does it work?
Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are a class of fatty acids found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and butter. They are different from other fats in that they're digested and absorbed much faster than conventional fats (in fact, as rapidly as carbohydrate) and are immediately available for energy.

Athletes have begun to use MCTs to increase calorie consumption, providing energy and facilitating weight gain. MCTs have very little tendency to be converted to body fat. Unlike conventional fats, which are are deposited in fat cells, MCTs are transported directly to the liver and used for energy. Only 1-2% of MCTs are stored as fat.

One of the main reasons for the interest in MCT as an aid to weight gain is the fact they contain more calories than carbohydrate but fewer calories than other types of fat. One gram of a "normal" fat provides around 9.4 calories. In contrast, one gram of a medium-chain triglyceride provides only eight calories per gram [1].

What's more, MCTs are also less likely to be stored as fat because they boost your metabolic rate. For example, 400 calories of MCT increase the metabolic rate for at least six hours after a meal to a greater extent than other types of fat [2]. MCTs also increase the rate at which other fats in the diet are burned for energy [3]. If we were to take a sample of fat tissue from your body, we wouldn't be able to find any medium-chain fatty acids in there. This makes them a perfect addition to the diet of anyone who wants to gain weight without getting fat.
How do I use it?
Most experts believe that 2-5 grams of MCTs can be consumed with both carbohydrate and protein to promote weight and muscle gain. Athletes who want to gain weight typically consume a food supplement containing carbohydrate, protein and MCTs several times each day. To gain weight, you must eat smaller, more frequent meals. Six smaller meals, rather than three larger ones, is the best way to put on muscle while minimising fat gain.
What results can I expect?
Combined with an effective training programme and a high protein diet, most people can gain 1-2 pounds of weight per week when using a supplement containing MCTs, carbohydrate and protein..
What can it be combined with?
MCTs should be combined with protein and carbohydrate for best results. Some athletes report impressive gains in muscle after combining MCTs with a source of high-quality whey protein and complex carbohydrate (such as maltodextrin).

1. Bach, A.C., Ingenbleek, Y., & Frey, A. (1996). The usefulness of dietary medium-chain triglycerides in body weight control: fact or fancy? Journal of Lipid Research, 37, 708-726
2. Papamandjaris, A.A., White, M.D., Raeini-Sarjaz, M., & Jones, P.J. (2000). Endogenous fat oxidation during medium chain versus long chain triglyceride feeding in healthy women. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 24, 1158-1166
3. Seaton, T.B., Welle, S.L., Warenko, M.K., & Campbell, R.G. (1986). Thermic effect of medium-chain and long-chain triglycerides in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 44, 630-634

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