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MCT OIL FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

A comparison of a consumer article versus peer-reviewed consensus

Heads up.

This is a kind of geeky article, this topic deserves a deep dive.

There is a ton of information available on the internet about MCT oil, so I decided to read up and compare scientific articles to a "consumer article" from Livestrong.com.

I did my best to collect the most relevant, current information for you.

The genesis of dietary fat lovers.

Previous years of fat-phobia submit to an era of embracing dietary fat. The rise in popularity of fat-consumption might be attributed to mainstream media glorification of ketogenic diets for weight loss. With celebrity endorsements (Kardashians, Halle Berry, Meghan Fox) and a media spotlight, prolonged ketogenesis is idolized by many.

MCT oil sales are directly correlated to the adoration of high fat lifestyles; products containing MCT are flying off shelves across North America.

High-fat, "bulletproof coffee" is darn phenomenon.

On the contrary, low fat diets are increasingly less popular to aid in body fat reduction, bearing a modest decrease in low-fat product sales.

A moderate stance between the low-fat following and the ketogenic craze suggest a more sustainable, "normal" macronutrient ratio.

Low carb? Low fat? What the heck is "moderate protein?"

Currently, researchers explore manipulation of fatty acid chain length on body composition and cognitive performance. Although MCT is popular among followers of ketogenic diets, it may also be used to replace current fat sourcing and maintain "normal" macronutrient ratios, suggested by the USDA.

Obesity remains one of the leading causes for health concerns, bearing a plethora of comorbidities. In order to prevent future illness and increase quality and enjoyment of life, solutions to excess adipose tissue must be considered. Researchers have explored many avenues to manipulate body composition, and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) have received substantial attention in recent years.

The fat is marketed as an easily digested source of triglycerides, and even as a weight loss aid. MCTs, in the form of caprylic acid (c8:0), and capric acid (C10:0), are consumed orally and considered safe for long term human consumption.1 Generally, MCT oil is commercially processed from coconut or palm. Cultivating coconuts instead of palm proves a more environmentally sustainable agriculture practice form massive MCT production.

Protect orangutans, source responsibly.

The effects of MCT oil consumption must be compared to consumption of other fats to yield viable results. Keeping macronutrient ratios consumed by research participants stable, and isolating the effect of the fatty acid chain length. In studies discussed below, MCT consumption is compared to long chain triglyceride (12-12 carbon chain) consumption.

Simply consuming triglycerides with different carbon chain lengths may have an effect on body composition.​

Consumer information.

The consumer article by McKnight, published on the LiveStrong website, suggests taking 85 milligrams per day of supplemental MCT to experience weight loss. It says MCTs act differently than other sources of energy by increasing lipid oxidation. McKnight touts the triglyceride as healthier than others, claiming it does not promote metabolic risk factors that contribute to heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes (Knight, Livestrong, 2017). He suggests replacing current dietary fat with MCT oil to aid in overall body fat reduction.2

A comparison.

According to a study published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, MCT is cleaved into glycerol and medium chain fatty acids in the gut lumen. Due to the increased solubility in comparison to longer chain fatty acids, MCTs pass through the portal vein directly into the liver to be metabolized via β-oxidation. A small reduction in overall body weight, 0.80-0.30 kg, was found during a ten week meta analysis.3

Even though the kilograms lost seem trivial --- a recorded reduction in waist circumference indicates a decrease in visceral adipose tissue. In turn, this reduction points to a risk reduction for diseases such as type II diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. Blood lipid level may not be adversely affected by replacing LCTs with MCTs, according to this study.

Presented in a study published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, an energy expenditure discrepancy is detected between men and women who consume MCT.4 Men experienced greater energy expenditure during the clinical experiment than women. MCT oil was compared against consumption of olive oil for 28 days. Olive oil is mainly comprised of LCT, making it a good fat for comparison. Overall, there was a trend towards total subcutaneous adipose tissue reduction with those consuming MCT over the control group consuming LCT. Average fat oxidation was greater with MCT than LCT on day two of the study, but less on day 28.

The bottom line.

Consuming only one type of fat may not be as health conscious or slimming as current trends suggest. Food products processed until they no longer resemble that from which they were derived may be especially harmful when consumed excessively.

Doses of MCT greater than one tablespoon usually lead uncontrollable diarrhea, indicating it may have gastrointestinal destressing effects.

A guide for estimating portions

About the volume of thumb. Less to begin. Go gradually with MCT introduction to adjust the GI system.

Variety is key, and MCT is good

Although reduction in visceral adipose tissue is observed across the studies used to cross-reference McKnight’s consumer article, it is best for people to use MCT oil as an adjunct method for weight reduction.

For most people, it may be most effective and more sustainable to consume a variety of fats in a macronutrient balanced diet.

There is no magic bullet.

But let's be aware of our dietary fat consumption, and use MCT to help maintain a healthy abdominal fat level.

You don't have to buy MCT isolate; consuming coconut products will do. I have a ton of recipes for inspo.

Coconut suggestions:

Protein Bars

http://bereadywellness.strikingly.com/blog/protein-bars

Protein Bites

http://bereadywellness.strikingly.com/blog/sweet-summer-protein-bites

Coconut Butter Fudge

http://bereadywellness.strikingly.com/blog/who-likes-fudge

REFERENCE LIST

  1. Nassib B, V. de Melo I, Florêncio, Sawaya A. Dietary Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols versus Long-Chain Triacylglycerols for Body Composition in Adults: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2015. 34:2, 175-183.
  2. McKnight, C. Does MCT Oil Make You Lose Weight? Livestrong. July 18, 2017.
  3. Mumme, K. Effects of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Weight Loss and Body Composition: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Control Trials. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Issue 115, 2017.
  4. St-Onge M., Ross R., Parsons W., Jones P. Medium‐Chain Triglycerides Increase Energy Expenditure and Decrease Adiposity in Overweight Men. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2012.
     
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