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MCTs and Weight Loss – Do I Owe Someone an Apology?
Joe Klemczewski, Ph.D.
I’ve long held the position that supplementing with medium-chain tryglycerides has no value in a diet. Some believe that since the smaller-chain fats are broken down and used at speeds more like a low-glycemic carbohydrate instead of a fat, that we should replace carbs with MCT oil when dieting. Citing the fact that MCTs don’t give an insulin response like carbs but can be used for energy, it should be a no-brainer; pass me a bottle! It appears some researches didn’t get the memo on the debate between carbs and MCT and wanted to compare them to other oils. I’m not sure exactly who replaces fat with MCT; the controversy has been with replacing carbs with them. Nonetheless, almost 50 subjects consumed MCT or olive oil for 16 weeks as part of a controlled weight-loss program. Without getting too deep in the details, the MCT group did lose 1.7 kg more over 16 weeks. I wouldn’t call 3+ pounds insignificant, but not earth-shattering. The take home here is that a lighter, smaller fat is used easer than a heavier, longer-chain fat. I’m not exactly sure that’s newsworthy, but I’ll stick to my presumptions that carbs are always better at stimulating the metabolism, creating anabolism for muscle growth, and are overall the better choice than MCTs. But that’s a carbohydrate versus MCT fight – maybe Ben Stein can create a documentary on that one for me. And with all the benefits of some healthy oils like olive oil, would you really want to trade that for a tasteless lighter oil with no health benefits? Anyone? Anyone? (St-Onge, M.P. and A. Bosarge. Weight-Loss Diet that Includes Consumption of Medium-Chain Triacylglycerol Oil Leads to a Greater Rate of Weight and Fat Mass Loss than Does Olive Oil. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008;87:621-6.)