MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil is an amazing source of almost instant energy

MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil is an amazing source of almost instant energy that will power your muscles, improving your performance and endurance. MCT oil will allow you to workout harder, and gain more lean muscle from your training program. Xbrain’s MCT oil is carefully sourced from coconut and coconut kernel oils, and embodies all the amazing benefits that have been attributed to coconut oil.

The fatty acids that make up the triglycerides in MCT oil are shorter than usual. Normal fatty acids have carbon chains of 18 or more atoms, but MCT fatty acids, such as capril and caprilic acids have chains of only 6-12 atoms. This one difference is responsible for the benefits of MCT oil as an energy source. It is still very rich in energy, like normal lipids, but unlike normal fats the body uses it for energy production rather than depositing it in fat stores. This is because the shorter fatty acids find it much easier to cross membranes, including the mitochondrial membranes. The body treats the shorter fatty acids in MCT oil quite differently from the way it treats normal fats, which makes them an excellent fuel source to take before or during your workout.

First of all the shorter triglycerides in MCT oil are easier to digest and quicker to absorb by the digestive system. They don’t require bile salts to be digested and can simply passively diffuse into the portal vein system, where they are carried directly to the liver, rather than going through the lymph system, a less direct route.

This is very important if you are taking a high calorie nutrient just before, or during your workout. There is no advantage from consuming something that will need time to digest. When you are working out your digestive system pretty much shuts down, your body is busy doing other things, like contracting muscles and pumping blood to them as fast as it can. Taking in something that requires hard work to be digested just before a workout is useless, and can in fact slow you down as the food just sits in your stomach. You need something that doesn’t need much digestion and will be quickly absorbed and get to the liver. MCT oil fits all these requirements. In fact, MCT oil is so easy to digest it is used as an energy source by people who have pancreatic disease that normally doesn’t allow them to digest fats.

When the fatty acids in normal triglycerides reach the liver, they are usually not metabolised. I am sure you are aware of how difficult it is to get your body to burn fats, it seems like your system would rather use any other fuel, including proteins from your muscle, rather than its fat reserves. Fatty acids are normally turned into energy through a process called beta-oxidation that happens inside mitochondria. First, though, the fatty acids have to get inside the mitochondria, which is not a simple process. Normal fatty acids with carbon chains of 18 or more atoms cannot diffuse across the mitochondrial membranes and depend on an active transport system, which involves the carnitine dipeptide. Carnitine is often in short supply and limits the rate at which fatty acids can enter the mitochondria, and therefore the rate at which they can be burned by beta-oxidation. Since burning of fatty acids is limited, the liver generally turns them back into triglycerides. They are then transported into fat reserves under the skin.

Medium chain fatty acids are quite different. They are short enough that they can cross the mitochondrial membrane by simple diffusion without needing an active transport system. Once in the mitochondria they are converted into acetyl co-A and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then enter the circulation where they can be used for energy by the heart, or skeletal muscle. Ketone bodies are also one of the few substances that can be used as fuel by the brain.

Your muscles are limited in the amount of work they can do by the fuel available to them. All muscles use energy in the form of ATP for their contractions. However the levels of ATP in all cells are very low, and it must be actively produced during the workout. Muscles quickly use up the body’s store of glycogen to produce additional glucose. After glycogen is gone, muscle cells begin to struggle to find additional fuel. The beta oxidation of fat is limited by the rate at which it can be transported across the mitochondria membrane, when the body can’t obtain sufficient energy it will start degrading the proteins in muscles, and turn the released free amino acids into glucose for energy. This is obviously a bad thing if you are an athlete trying to gain muscle.

This effect was demonstrated in an animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition by a team from Kyoto University. They showed that mice fed on a diet high in medium chain triglycerides had much better endurance, and could swim further in tests, than mice fed the normal diet of carbohydrates and normal triglycerides.

MCT oil is also raising interest as an aid to weight loss. Because it is directly metabolised by the liver, and unlikely to be send to fat deposits, it does not contribute to adipose tissue. Unlike carbohydrates it will not raise blood sugar levels, and therefore insulin levels, and will not result in a cycle of high and low blood glucose levels, which are one of the main causes of overeating. MCT oil appears to have a much higher thermogenic effect than other fats, meaning that the body temperature rises more after it is consumed, leading to burning more calories. Finally it appears that it has an appetite suppressing effect.

Because a diet high in MCT oil is ketogenic, i.e. leads to the production of ketone bodies, it is also good for the brain. Ketones are one of the few energy sources, other than glucose, that the brain can utilise. A ketogenic diet was known to be effective at controlling epileptic seizures for a long time. It is also being investigated for its potential to slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

How hard you can work your muscles during training is to a large extent a function of how much fuel you can provide your muscle cells. MCT oil is an excellent, rapidly available, highly energy dense nutritional source. It is quickly absorbed  from the intestinal tract and delivered to the liver where it is oxidised into ketone bodies, which can then be used by muscle cells as an additional energy source, allowing them to contract harder and for longer. This improved endurance during workouts will result in better muscle gain from them. MCT oils are also helpful when trying to lose weight.

Further Reading:

The benefits of medium chain triglycerides:

MCT oil improves exercise endurance:

MCT oil can help you lose weight: