Many of you reading this blog will be scratching your head right now. What in the heck is MCT Oil? What does it have to do with the focus of this blog? Let me tell you, it has plenty to do with all aspects of this blog, brain health, low carb diet, and WLS. So sit back and take a look at this wonderful addition to your nutritional arsenal.
MCT--medium chain triglycerides--are fats that are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oil. MCT's are more easily and rapidly digested than other types of fats, as they require lower amounts of enzymes and bile acids for intestinal absorption. MCT's are metabolized very quickly in the liver and are reported to encourage an increase in energy expenditure, while decreasing fat storage. Numerous studies suggest that substituting MCT Oil for other fats in a healthy diet may therefore help to support healthy weight and body composition.
MCT's have been shown to be a good addition to anyone's way of eating. It promotes weight loss. Improves appetite control. Is beneficial in for exercise and athletic performance. Improves thyroid function. Improves heart health. Improves your immunity. Improves brain health when used in conjunction with a ketogenic diet. Jump starts ketosis when following a typical Atkins's type diet. Thus decreasing the induction side-effect of the dreaded "Atkins Flu". Assists in calcium, magnesium and amino acid absorption in people with malabsorption issues--think WLS.
Medium-chain triglycerides were first used in the mid-1900s to reduce seizures with the help of the ketogenic diet. In the 1980s, MCTs became popular in sports as a substitute for normal dietary fats or oils. They quickly became a favorite energy source for many athletes, such as marathon runners, who participate in endurance sports. These athletes require a quick source of energy, which is readily supplied by carbohydrates. However, diets high in carbohydrates may cause rapid increase in insulin production, resulting in substantial weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. MCT is also a form of fat; therefore, it is high in calories. MCTs do not cause weight gain because they stimulate thermogenesis (the process in which the body generates energy, or heat, by increasing its normal metabolic, fat-burning rate). A thermogenic diet, which is high in medium-chain triglycerides, has been proposed as a type of weight loss regime.
MCTs are the preferred forms of fat for many patients with fat malabsorption problems. Many diseases cause poor fat absorption. For instance, patients with pancreatic insufficiency do not have enough pancreatic enzymes to break down LCTs. In children with cystic fibrosis, thick mucus blocks the enzymes that assist in digestion. Another fat absorption condition is short-bowel syndrome, in which parts of the bowel have been removed due to disease.(think WLS here) Stressed or critically ill patients also have a decreased ability to digest LCTs. Unlike LCTs, medium-chain triglycerides are easily absorbed by patients with malabsorption conditions. These patients benefit most from oral preparations that contain MCTs as the primary source of fat (up to 85% of fat caloric intake). Several scientific studies have shown MCT to be effective in treating fat malabsorbtion, chronic diarrhea, and weight loss in patients with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Coconut oil, a natural MCT, is well known in the low carb community. Most use it everyday. Many just swallow a big ol' spoonful at a time. I use it for sauteing veggies and in my daily coffee. The research behind the benefits of coconut is vast. During the early days, coconut oil was an important part of traditional medications. People used herbs and parts of certain trees. Coconut oil concoctions applied directly to wounds or swollen areas provided quick healing.
Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid. Also, approximately 6-7% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are capric acid. Capric acid is another medium chain fatty acid, which has a similar beneficial function when it is formed into monocaprin in the human or animal body. Monocaprin has also been shown to have antiviral effects against HIV and is being tested for antiviral effects against herpes simplex and antibacterial effects against chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacteria.Research is underway on the effects of MCT Oil in WLS. It has already been shown to be beneficial in weight loss and appetite control. Now they want to look at it's effects just with WLS.
Caroline Apovian, M.D., Director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Boston University, has been engaged in clinical studies related to various dietary and drug effects on weight reduction. These studies include weight loss in subjects on a VLCD and sibutramine versus placebo; a prospective study of risk factors for heart disease in subjects pre- and post-gastric bypass surgery; an investigation of an MCT oil-based liquid diet and the effects on weight loss; endothelial function in obese subjects on a weight-loss program; hypocaloric-hyperprotein enteral nutrition versus relative normocaloric enteral nutrition in critically ill medical patients; interventions to enhance adherence to obesity guidelines by providing four-hour workshops on obesity treatment to primary care physicians with patient chart follow-up; and a randomized, controlled study to examine the relationship between changes in plasma GIP levels and other gastrointestinal peptides following gastric bypass surgery in obese patients.Here is one such study done in conjunction with a very low calorie diet(VLCD) like many who have WLS.
Value of VLCD supplementation with MCTThere is so much research out there on the benefits of MCT oil, I could spend days writing about it. You can check it all out for yourself with these links.
BACKGROUND: Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are energetically less dense, highly ketogenic, and more easily oxidised than long chain triglycerides (LCT). MCT also differ from LCT in their digestive and metabolic pathways.
OBJECTIVE: To test the effects of MCT supplementation during a very low calorie diet (VLCD).
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Three groups of tightly matched obese women with body mass index (BMI)>30 kg/m(2) received an isoenergetic (578.5 kcal) VLCD (Adinax, Novo Vital, Sweden) enriched withMCT or LCT (8.0 and 9.9 g/100 g Adinax respectively) or a low-fat (3 g/100 g) and high-carbohydrate regimen. The diets were administered over 4 weeks. Body composition was measured with DEXA and appetite/satiety-according to Blundell. Beta hydroxybutyric acid concentration in plasma and nitrogen excretion in urine was measured during consecutive days of VLCD. The study was performed in a randomised double-blind manner.
RESULTS: TheMCT group showed a significantly greater decrease in body weight during the first 2 weeks. The contribution of body fat to the total weight loss was higher while the contribution of fat-free mass (FFM) was lower. TheMCT group had a higher concentration of ketone bodies in plasma and a lower nitrogen excretion in urine. Hunger feelings were less intense while satiety was higher. These differences were observed during the first 2 weeks of treatment and gradually declined during the third and fourth weeks.
CONCLUSIONS: Replacement of LCT byMCT in the VLCD increased the rate of decrease of body fat and body weight and has a sparing effect on FFM. The intensity of hunger feelings was lower and paralleled the higher increase of ketone bodies. These effects gradually declined, indicating subsequent metabolic adaptation. Further studies are required to confirm the protein-sparing and appetite-suppressing effects ofMCT supplementation during the first 2 weeks of VLCD treatment.
- Clinical Trial: Use of MCT Oil for Enhancement of Weight Loss in Obese Patients
- Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride.
- Overfeeding with medium-chain triglyceride diet results in diminished deposition of fat.
- Dietary medium-chain triacylglycerols suppress accumulation of body fat in a double-blind, controlled trial in healthy men and women.
- Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity.
- Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue.
- Larger diet-induced thermogenesis and less body fat accumulation in rats fed medium-chain triacylglycerols than in those fed long-chain triacylglycerols.
- The role of oils containing triacylglycerols and medium-chain fatty acids in the dietary treatment of obesity. The effect on resting energy expenditure and serum lipids.
- Coconutoil.com - Research on Coconut Oil's Benefits
- Mary Enig Ph.D. on the Effects of Coconut Oil on Serum Cholesterol Levels and HDLs
- Coconut: In Support of Good Health in the 21st Century
- Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D.-Health Oils From The Tree of Life(pdf)
- Coconut Oil : What's all the fuss about virgin coconut oil?
- Coconut Research Center Home Page
- Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Information from Answers.com
Whenever you’re tempted to think that just because a whole lot of people believe something, that it must be true, remember the words of Nobel prize winner, Anatole France (1844-1924):
If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.