Today we’re taking a look at some of the old-school supplements that were used by bodybuilders in the 90s to help them perfect their physique as well as lose fat in order to look shredded on stage.
First introduced by John Perillo, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) took the bodybuilding industry by storm as the “fat you can’t store fat with.” MCTs found widespread success as a supplement. However, how do MCTs differ from any other triglycerides? How does it really get digested in our bodies?
We’re about to dive deeper into the science behind MCTs, starting with: What are they, really?
What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides?
Triglycerides, like the name suggests, consist of three fatty acids and a glycerol backbone. However, they come in a variety of chain lengths, and the triglycerides we usually think of are long-chain fatty acids.
Long-chain fatty acids have a chain length of 20 fatty acids, while medium-chain fatty acids may have a chain of anywhere from 6-10 fatty acids (some people say up to 12).
How Are Medium-Chain Triglycerides Digested?
Essentially, one of the reasons MCTs are burned differently than regular fats is because MCTs have approximately 1 calorie less energy than regular fats. In addition to that, they actually get digested differently.
The typical digestive process for long-chain fatty acids start with getting broken down in the stomach and diffusing into the blood in the form of large globules called “chylomicrons.” These globules move around the lymphatic system in the blood all the way to the neck, then back into the blood.
Their last stop after passing through so many stages ends with them being processed in the blood and transported to the muscle through L-carnitine. We know muscles contain mitochondria, which is our body’s fat-burning machinery.
Sounds like a huge process just to get the fatty acids to your muscle, doesn’t it? Well here’s the thing about MCTs–they’re so short that during digestion they diffuse straight into your blood, allowing them to get burned as fuel straight away.
How Do Medium-Chain Triglycerides Affect Fat Loss?
Not only are MCTs able to get burned as fuel right away, but since they don’t require all the tedious processing stages that long-chain fatty acids do, they can be used by the mitochondria in your muscle without the use of a transporter.
Studies show that taking MCTs can raise our metabolism, which directly boosts our fat burning. Other studies show that when you replace your normal fat intake with MCTs, you’ll end up losing more fat.
In addition to that, MCTs can actually go to the liver, which converts them to ketones. This is a way to increase internal ketone production. Not only do ketones help us lose fat by themselves, but this fourth macronutrient is a high-energy source that can help you in your workout and cardio exercises.
Medium Chain Triglycerides Usage and Drawbacks
Essentially, it’s harder to store MCTs as fat, which is why back in the 90s, mass-building shakes almost always had MCTs in the ingredients. The problem with those shakes is that they caused a lot of stomach pain.
It’s easy to assume that it causes just a common stomach ache, something that you’re used to from eating fiber-rich meals that can also cause digestive distress. However, if you think you can take the pain and start yourself off with, say, 20g of MCTs, you’re going to have a very bad time.
The best way to train your stomach to handle MCTs is just like you’ve been training your whole body so far. Start low, and slowly train your body to adapt to doses. You can start off with 3g of MCT a day, then slowly move up to 6g, and finally go up to 10g of MCT.
We recommend MCTs if you’re on a low carbohydrate or keto diet and need a supplement to boost your energy. It’s also a great supplement to take when you’re trying to have a low carb breakfast. It can also be good for intermittent or modified intermittent fasting when you take it as an energy drink during your fasting period.
We hope this article helped you get the hang of understanding how MCTs work as a supplement, and we’ll see you again in our next supplement review!