What are MCTs and why are they different from other fats?
Fats are made up of chains of carbon atoms, and most of the fats in a person’s diet are made up of 13 to 21 of these atoms. These are called long-chain fatty acids. In contrast, short-chain fatty acids are made up of 6 or fewer carbon atoms. MCTs refers to medium-chain triglycerides that sit in the middle of the other two types. They are of medium length and made up of 6 to 12 carbon atoms.
MCTs are found in coconut oil and are processed by the body in a different way to long-chain fatty acids. Unlike other fats, they go straight from the gut to the liver. From here, they are used as a source of energy or turned into ketones.
Ketones are substances produced when the liver breaks down a lot of fat, and they can be used by the brain for energy instead of glucose or sugar. As the calories in MCTs are used straightaway, they are less likely to be stored as fat. This principle is the basis of the ketogenic diet, which many people believe is an effective way to lose weight.