Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT) are fats extracted from coconut oil. Their length ranges from 6 to 12 carbon chains. Long Chain Triglycerides, the most abundant form of fat found in nature, are different from MCT in that their length is from 18 to 24 carbons long.
This makes quite a difference in the way our bodies use these fats. LCT are the storage fats for animals and plants. MCT encourage weight loss as opposed to LCT which increase weight gain.
MCT may increase weight loss because of their ability to increase thermogenesis, which is the amount of heat we create after eating calories. A calorie by definition is the amount of heat or energy needed to raise the temperature of water by one degree. When we think of this in terms of food, it is the amount of energy that is contained in the chemical bonds of the food we are eating. This energy is used to do work.
Diet-induced thermogenesis measures how much increased heat is created by an individual after eating calories, or a meal. Those with high increases in their heat, say 40%, burn more of the calories they consume as heat! People with low diet-induced thermogenesis may only expend 10% of their calories consumed in a meal as heat. As you can see, it appears much easier for individuals with higher thermogenesis to avoid weight gain and lose weight easier.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides have been shown to increase thermogenesis by as much as 50% after short term use. Long Chain Triglycerides, in contrast, are primarily stored and thus decrease thermogenesis and metabolism.
MCT can be added to the diet as a supplement taken daily, or they can be used in place of LCT. MCT can be used to make salad dressing or in place of fats and oils normally in the diet. If taken as a supplement, the amount recommended is one to two tablespoons a day.
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