Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a type of saturated fat produced by artificially separating the MCTs out of coconut or palm kernel oil. MCT oil is a current, recycled, dietary trend that claims to boost metabolism, suppress appetite and reduce fat stores. It’s expensive and in my opinion, not very tasty.
Whole foods contain a variety of fatty acid chain lengths and for good biochemical reason! If you are fortunate enough to NOT need MCT oil, count your blessings! MCT oil is used in medical nutrition formulas, like TPN, tube feedings, and some infant formulas. Their short chain triglyceride (fat) length is easily absorbed and metabolized more quickly than longer chain fats for those who cannot digest or absorb fats. MCTs may cause upset stomach and digestive distress, especially if increased suddenly.
Limited research claims that MCT oil supports changes in body composition during participation in weight loss programs, specifically in overweight men. However, the dose requirements included stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. The evidence for long term use of MCT oil for weight management was not shown to be useful. There are false claims that MCT oils improve exercise performance. Additional research shows there is no significant long term health difference in consuming MCT oil instead of long and short chained triglycerides, such as omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, anchovies, catfish, eggs, salmon, shrimp, tuna, almonds, avocados, cashews, peanut butter, and olives to name a few. Notably, you can consume MCTs without the added expense of MCT oil supplementation. Palm kernel oil and coconut oil are 2/3 MCTs; almost 100% saturated fat. Be mindful that saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of calories per day. Saturated fats are linked to elevated cholesterol. For optimal heart health, replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats found in the food sources listed above.
MCT oil supplementation is not necessary and it is not sustainable. Save your money and eat real, whole, varied food sources. In today’s diet culture climate, it seems almost everyone wants to lose body fat with a hot, new, heavily marketed trend. While it is sometimes true that supplements and fad diets will work, one may remind themselves that anything will work…for about 2 weeks. Then, what? The benefits of a varied, balanced diet and daily exercise will always be the best of all worlds.
By Danielle Fryer, RD, CSSD, CSCS
Published in The Gadsden Times HERE