Diet Plans - MCT Oil Diet

What are Medium Chain Triglycerides?

The Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil diet is a less restrictive approach to the Ketogenic Diet. It is often used in England and Canada, though seldom used in the United States. The MCT oil diet is more flexible and allows a larger variety of food can be included due to the higher carbohydrate and protein allowance (macronutrient Ratio is 1.9:1). Medium-chain triglycerides produce ketones more easily than long-chain triglyceride (LCT) fat, with certain MCTs bypassing the liver and converting directly into ketones. This means that less total fat is needed, allowing more carbohydrate and protein to be included in the regimen.

Exchange lists divide up the allocated food groups for the day, giving the flexibility of planning individually designed meals by choosing from the lists in measured quantities. Experience has shown that better ketone levels are reached and tolerance obtained if the MCT oil is divided up evenly across the day between both snacks and meals. In other words, all food must be accompanied by a proportion of MCT.

MCT types

Coconut oil is the most common source of MCTs. There are specialized formulations available that divide coconut oil into separate fatty acids. An explanation of the four types of MCTs will clarify which may be beneficial for you. MCTs differ by the number of their carbon bonds. Caprylic acid, for instance, has 8 carbon bonds, and is abbreviated as C8. Some practitioners may advise using a combination of oils for example, using coconut oil and a C-8 oil is a common practice.

Caproic Acid (C6)

The shortest of the MCTs, this oil may cause a burning sensation in the back of your throat while consuming, as well as cause gastrointestinal distress, though is highly ketogenic. For this reason, C6 is generally filtered out of MCT oils.

Caprylic Acid (C8)

Requiring only a three-step conversion process into cellular energy called ATP (compared to sugar’s 26), C8 is the fastest MCT to metabolize in the brain. C8 is the most ketogenic MCT, and, promotes gut health through its anti-microbial attributes. Its typically the most expensive of the MCT oils.

Capric Acid (C10)

Similarly ketogenic as compared to C8, C10 carries a slower conversion rate into cellular energy.

Lauric Acid (C12)

While technically considered an MCT, C12 acts more like an LCT biologically, requiring liver processing before being converted into useful energy. C12 has health benefits for the gut similar to C8 and C10.

Am I a candidate for a Ketogenic Diet?

While the short answer is yes for the majority of people consuming a western diet, we urge you to consult your doctor prior to making the switch to Keto. The Charlie Foundation will provide you with the information and tools necessary to adopt the diet. Partnering with your doctor during this process will ensure the safest and most therapeutic outcome.

What are the benefits of ketosis?

Achieving a state of ketosis can have many benefits from treating chronic illnesses to optimizing performance.  While the benefits are well documented, the underlying mechanism of action is not entirely known.  The diet seems to enhance the ability of mitochondria, the power plants of our cells, to deliver our bodies’ energy needs in a manner that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.  Through optimizing the way our body uses energy, we fortify our bodies’ ability to take on the ever-growing stressors of our modern way of living. 

How long should I be on a Ketogenic Diet?

According to the International Ketogenic Study Group* a 3-month trial of the diet is advised for children with epilepsy to determine its effectiveness. The diet is typically used up to three years in children. A time-frame has not been established for adults with epilepsy. The report also advises adjustment to therapy or potentially discontinuation if an adverse effect occurs that cannot be rectified.  Since most people following a western diet are not proficient at metabolizing fat optimally, this period allows the body time to become “fat-adapted”, utilizing dietary fat efficiently and effectively.  There are a variety of nutritional plans that will enable a ketogenic lifestyle, and flexibility is one of the hallmarks of the diet that make it easy to adopt as a life-long tool to enhance your health.  Our nutritionists can help figure out both the short and long-term options best suited for you and your lifestyle.

*Kossoff EH, Zupec-Kania BA, Amark PE, et al. Optimal clinical management of children receiving the Ketogenic Diet: recommendations of the international Ketogenic Diet study group. Epilepsia 2009;50:304-317.

Getting Started

Do you think the Ketogenic Diet is right for you? Talk to your doctor before adopting a Ketogenic Diet, or connect with one of our qualified Ketogenic Specialists to determine a course of action that is right for you. The links below provide access to diet professionals and hospitals with expertise in ketogenic therapies.

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