Refined from coconut oil, MCT oil is one of the most interesting fats around because of the way it acts within the body. It can be the most useful in a bodybuilding diet because it can be used in a way during a ketogenic diet that other fats cannot. That’s because it behaves more like a carbohydrate than a fat within the body. The fuel of choice by your body’s standards, is carbohydrate because the body uses up carbohydrate stores and quick acting carbohydrates before it uses fat. That’s why during a traditional ketogenic diet, the ingestion of carbohydrates must be suppressed so drastically in order for ketone bodies to stimulate fat loss.
However, because carbohydrates are eaten often and burned rapidly, they aren’t always the most ideal fuel. Fats on the other hand are stored for energy. We use them for fuel if there is not enough carbohydrate available. First it uses the fats in food, and then if that is not adequate, it will begin to deplete the fat storage in our body’s tissues.
Fats metabolize more slowly (it takes about a day for the fat content of food to be used), which is why on the ketogenic diet, in the absence of carbs, you get that feeling of sustained satisfaction because of the slow release of energy. But often, because of this, a ketogenic diet means that the appetite is suppressed and the appropriate number of calories are not eaten. Because not eating enough calories defeats the purpose of metabolic stimulation, the person on a ketogenic diet – like Atkins – who does not train or exercise, will lose weight rapidly, but will regain it so quickly after.
When a person goes off of the ketogenic diet, what has been masked is a relatively low functioning metabolism. Weight is so easily added when that diet is abandoned, because metabolic functioning has been so low and chemical reactions have been high. Once those chemical reactions are gone, and a normal diet resumes, weight piles on.
Enter MCT oil. In the late 80′s a guy by the name of John Parillo introduced MCT oil to the bodybuilding community in his version, called Cap Tri. Caprillic tri Acid —- is the form used. It was a large bottle of, well, fat. This fat was added to meals, over the top of everything from rice to pancakes to baked potato and pasta. Miraculously, not only did people get great gains from this low viscosity, clear liquid oil (because they had the energy to lift heavier and looked fuller from the fat loading), but they also were able to include more carbs in their diet and have it still act somewhat like a ketogenic diet. Why?
Unlike other fats, MCT oil is not filtered through the lymphatic system. That is traditionally where long chain fats (normal varieties) are processed and why the release for energy is so slow. MCTs go straight to the liver and release energy quite quickly, like a carbohydrate. This happens within minutes, so training on MCTs is quite rewarding. The added benefit is, MCTs create a ton of ketones in the process. It is the most ketogenic of fats and gives greater flexibility in the process.
The flexibility MCTs provide is that they cause fat burning while providing fast-accessible energy that acts like carbohydrate. It allows anyone to operate the diet at a lower ratio, which provides greater food choice. That means you can include more carbohydrate and overall, a greater number of calories, and still be on a ketogenic diet that produces the best results. That’s why you can add an MCT oil to carbohydrates like baked potato and get leaner, not fatter.
MCTs are fast acting and can be used like a simple carbohydrate for a quick ketogenic pick me up, by boosting ketones immediately. This also causes more rapid fat burning. Medium chain triglycerides also have a mild laxative effect on the body, which is great on any ketogenic diet, because constipation can be a constant problem.
In an MCT diet, you use MCTs for cooking or directly add a capful or tablespoon of oil to foods. Protein exchanges are based on one egg (6g protein + 6g fat) or on meat (12g protein + 10g fat) to ensure the correct amount of protein is consumed. Carbohydrates are consumed 10 grams per meal in proportion to these protein and fat ratios. Oddly, intaking more than a liter to a liter and a half is not indicated on this diet.
Factoid: MCT oil is used in the medical community to abate 3 forms of epilepsy in children. Age range is 5 to 16 years, but the diet is most successful in preventing seizures in the younger age range.
MCT diets differ from classical ketogenic diets in three ways:
- Use of MCT as the majority source of fat.
- Higher total calorie level.
- The higher level of carbohydrates that can be consumed and still considered a ketogenic diet.
In the past, used in medical circles, it has historically not been palatable. It also requires slow introduction into the body because it can cause severe stomach cramps. The other caveat for bodybuilders is that because it is processed in the liver directly, unlike traditional fats, it can be contraindicated for people with liver problems. If you’re on a heavy cycle, you may want to watch how your body reacts to it. Take liver cleansers and drink a lot of water.
The good news is, a new generation of MCT oil is on the horizon. Look for it at www.getanabolics.com in 2007. This version will revolutionize the industry and create more anabolic activity against a backdrop of ketogenic activity.
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