Whether you are new to the keto diet or if you are a long time user of the diet it’s important to understand the different fats and their forms. Fats are very unique and complex. This blog is going to focus on carbon lengths of various fatty acids and their biological impact on the body. So what exactly is a carbon? Think of the carbon as a vertebra in a spine. They’re the backbone of the molecule. The length of the fatty acid dictates how the body digests and or absorbs the fat(s) consumed. We will be looking at fats in three different categories.
- Short Chain Fats (SCFA) - fats with less than 6 carbons in length
- Medium Chain Fats (MCT) - fats with carbon lengths between 6 and 12
- Long Chain Fats (LCFA) - fats with carbon lengths longer than 12 carbons
Short Chain Fats
Short Chain Fats are often the byproduct of the bacteria in an individual’s colon after consuming fiber. Short Chain Fats can additionally be consumed in various whole foods, such as butter. Butter is rich in a short-chain fat called butyrate. A primary benefit of Short-Chain Fats are their powerful anti-inflammatory effects within the body.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s)
Medium Chain Triglycerides are unique in the sense that two of the three fatty acids don’t digest in the same way that longer chain fats (fatty acids containing 12 carbons or more) are digested. Let’s take a look at the two primary fatty acids that make Medium Chain Triglycerides so unique, C8 (caprylic acid) vs. C10 (capric acid). Caprylic acid contains 8 carbons in its chemical structure, hence why it's abbreviated as C8. Capric acid contains 10 carbons in its chemical structure and is abbreviated as C10.
MCT’s have a much shorter path to absorption than LCFA’s. MCT’s are transported to the liver via an alternate metabolic pathway called the hepatic portal vein. Once these medium-chain triglycerides arrive at the liver, the liver converts these unique fats into an alternate fuel substrate called ketones. For the average person, this process takes roughly 30 minutes. More on ketones below.
Long Chain Fats
Long Chain Fats are the most abundant of fats consumed daily. LCFAs have the longest digestion compared to all other fatty acids. Without diving deep into physiology we’ll stay with the basics of digestion. Long Chain Fats such as the bulk of fatty acids in an avocado go through a lengthy digestion process through the stomach and small intestine before being bundled back into nutrient available packages for the body to use. To put it into context the average digestion duration of long-chain fats is around three hours.
Fats are an incredibly important part of the ketogenic diet, consuming the right mix of fats is key when getting started with the keto diet and can really affect your bodies ability to produce the ketones it needs to help you lose weight.
Killer Creamery pints can help you produce ketones while controlling blood sugar levels, see how below:
Ketones are an alternative energy source to glucose. There are a couple of ways to achieve a state of ketosis:
1.) Prolonged fasting (not eating for a duration of time, often upwards of 24hours)
2.) Consuming a diet very low in digestible carbohydrates for a period of time.
3.) Consume MCT oil, specifically caprylic acid also known as pure C8 MCT oil in moderate amounts.
The most productive way to produce ketones is to consume pure C8 MCT oil. When consuming MCT’s, specifically C8 and C10, you don’t have to be in a glucose starved state (fasted) to reap the benefits and begin producing ketones. The MCT’s will jump into action creating ketones via the liver. The result will be having two energy sources available to your body, glucose and ketones. Talk about a nice little energy boost!
The body is an amazing piece of machinery. We all know this. Talking specifically about energy sources, the body is similar to a hybrid car in the sense that the body can simultaneously use two energy substrates. A hybrid car can run off of gasoline and electric energy in the same way that the body can use glucose and ketones at the same time.
C8 vs. C10 MCT oil, which one is better?
This is a million-dollar question… the long story short is, YES, one of these fatty acids is superior to the other. If the goal is to produce the maximum number of ketones in a serving of MCT’s, you’ll want to consume an isolated high percent or pure C8 MCT oil. The most common MCT oil in the marketplace is a 60 percent C8 and a 40 percent C10. Consuming a tablespoon of this profile will produce ketones, however, it’s been cited numerous times that an MCT oil that’s at least 95 percent containing C8 will generate on average 30 percent more ketones than the 60/40 profile of C8/C10. You may ask if this is true… then why doesn’t everyone just use the highly isolated C8? The straightforward answer is that it costs more. Maybe a better way to think of this is by comparing an 87-octane fuel for your vehicle to the premium 93 octane. Sure, both options will make your vehicle run, however, the more expensive higher-octane fuel will enable the vehicle to operate better.
Where do MCT’s come from?
The two most popular sources are coconuts and palm kernel oil. There’s no difference in the finished MCT oil product - however ethically, coconuts are a more sustainable option, but will cost more. If you find MCT oil from palm kernel oil you’ll want to ensure their supply is Reasonably Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO Certified).
MCT Oil benefits:
- Easy digestion – digests differently than long-chain fatty acids. MCT’s are quickly converted for sustainable energy – similar to how carbohydrates are converted to glucose - these medium-chain fats are converted to ketones.
- Improves cognitive function
- Along with the energy boost, MCT’s help regulate blood sugar levels
- MCT’s are fewer calories per gram compared to long-chain fatty acids – 8.3 calories per gram · MCT’s are not stored as fat unlike long-chain fatty acids (LCFA’s go through a longer digestion process)
- MCT’s enhance thermogenesis (enhanced fat burning of other mobilized fats)
- May act as an appetite suppressant
- May lower cholesterol levels (Increase HDL)
- May assist in overall weight management
When to Use:
- Can be used at any time of the day for quick sustained energy
- Replace other fats with pure C8 MCT Oil
Who should use MCT Oil?:
- Very popular for low carb dieter’s
- Ketogenic enthusiast’s (helps increase ketone levels quickly)
- Used medically for Alzheimer’s patients, epileptic patients, cancer patients, and more
- Individuals with fat malabsorption (MCT’s don’t require bile salts for break down and still provide the normal health benefits of fats)
"Plasma Ketone and Medium Chain Fatty Acid Response in ...." 16 Apr. 2019, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2019.00046/full. Accessed 4 Sep. 2020.