Saturday, February 16, 2008

MCT Oil - The Importance of Being Medium

I came to a realization a few years ago. I'm a Medium. I don't mean I'm one of those people that talks to Elvis and your dead aunt Petunia. I mean everything about me is "medium." I wear medium T-shirts, 32x34 jeans - the most popular men's size, 10 1/2 shoe - again, the most popular men's size. I even eat my steak cooked medium. I'm not just medium, I'm extra medium. So maybe it is poetic justice that I write an article on Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).

What exactly is a Medium Chain Triglyceride? Put bluntly, an MCT is a type of fat. Fats are organized into chains - the gory details of which are outside the scope of this article (which is a fancy way of saying I don't understand it) - and as the name implies, a "medium" chain triglyceride is a smaller molecule than long and very long chain triglycerides.

Some examples of LCTs are corn, safflower and soybean oil. Some examples of MCTs are coconut oil, palm kernal oil and butter.

OK, so why do we care about the length of our fats? This is the really brilliant part! You know how regular vegetable oil floats on water? "Oil and water don't mix," you might say. To this I would say, "Ha!" MCTs are water soluble. This is extremely significant in the fact that MCTs require no special processing to get into the blood stream, and, bile is not needed to digest MCTs. This means, and here's the good bit, the body processes and uses MCTs exactly like it does carbohydrates!

There are two other advantages which are very significant.

  1. Research suggests that while any fat helps to cause satiety (a feeling of being satisfied) and thus tend to limit caloric intake, MCTs cause satiety faster than LCTs. This means when MCTs are a significant component of the meal, people tend to eat less than when LCTs are used!
  2. Research also suggests that MCTs help in weight loss, possibly by increasing metabolism.
What does all this mean? In simple terms, butter is back, baby! That's right, putting real butter on your veggies not only helps them taste better (and let's be honest, anything that helps us eat more veggies is a good thing, right?), that butter gives quick energy, speeds up your metabolism, and helps to burn fat.

This is all even more significant for the endurance athlete. Medium chain triglycerides represent the best of both worlds - the quick energy boost of a simple sugar but the caloric density of a fat.

You want a "superfood?" Forget the blueberries and start using butter again.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge and Peter J. H. Jones, "Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity"

Marie-Pierre St-Onge*, Robert Ross{dagger}, William D. Parsons* and Peter J.H. Jones,

"Medium-Chain Triglycerides Increase Energy Expenditure and Decrease Adiposity in Overweight Men"

1 comment:

Maarburg said...

Butter makes it better. Been saying that for years now.. and finally I can point to research!!
Raymond Beurre Blanc
1 to 2 shallots, chopped fine
8 ounces white wine
2 ounces lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Combine the shallots, white wine, and lemon juice in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons.

Add the cream to the reduction. Once the liquid bubbles, reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, one cube at a time, whisking first on the heat and then off the heat. Continue whisking butter into the reduction until the mixture is fully emulsified and has reached a rich sauce consistency. Season with salt and white pepper. Store beurre blanc in a thermos until ready to serve.
Maarburg's Magic Butter (first time in print!)

1 lb butter
3 TBL extra virgin olive oil
1 TBL thyme, chopped
1 TBL sage, chopped
1 TBL rosemary, chopped
pinch salt (very little is needed)

Add oil and herbs into food processor. Spin until all herbs are finely chopped. Don't over do it, or your butter will be green. Fun, but not all that appetizing.

Add butter and salt to processor. Process until lightly whipped. ~10min.

Toss in the fridge for 2hrs.

Great on steaks, veggies, fish, chicken, ... um.. it's good on everything.