Tag Archives: keto diet

What are Medium Chain Triglycerides and why you need them

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT for short) are a type of fat that is readily broken down by the human body into ketones. Ketones are the metabolic component responsible for your energy when in a state of ketosis. MCT belongs to the group of fats known as saturated fatty acids. In this blog post, I introduce MCTs and why you need them while running a ketogenic diet. If you’re not familiar with what the ketogenic diet is, check out my post here about my own achievements with the diet, along with my entire keto category index for all my related blog posts.

Caproic acid acsv
Molecular structure of Caproic Acid, one of the different MCTs.

You might have been told that saturated fats are bad. You might have heard they are linked to all sorts of diseases like heart disease. But not all saturated fats are equal, and Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are innocent here. They make up about 60% of the oil in coconuts, attributing in part to what makes coconut oil a super food on the keto diet. Because MCTs breakdown much easier into ketones, our bodies can use them to enter ketosis much faster.

Boosting Fat Consumption

Most people whom I coach through the on-ramp to the ketogenic diet struggle with the high amounts of fat they must now consume. A lot of the struggle is from the mental shift away from the “low fat” myth that we’ve been told for decades. But even after you convince yourself that it’s worth a shot, you may find that it’s still very difficult to get 70% or more of your calories from fat sources.

In order to get MCTs (and thus fat) into more of your meals, I recommend using an MTC Oil supplement. You can find them in liquid and powder forms. I prefer the powder form because it is lighter and easier to carry around. It mixes easily with water, and the flavor of the powder is similar to powdered creamer that you might use in your coffee. The product linked below is what I personally use, and I really enjoy it! It’s easy to drop a serving or two into my (low carb) protein shake or use it as an ingredient in other recipes. One serving of this product gives you 7 extra grams of fat from MCTs!

Disclaimer: clicking on the links above awards me a very small advertising credit to my Amazon Associates account. I am not paid by Amazon or any other company for my opinions or to directly promote products. The opinions expressed on this site are my own. Buying a product using ad links on my site goes towards helping me pay for website maintenance costs and the fuel (coffee!) that powers my blog writings.

Stomach Sensitivity

Some people might find that taking too much MCT oil at once can cause stomach pains. These are not harmful! It just means you’re using more than your body can process at once. Consume less MCT oil until you find the sweet spot where you body can handle it all without the discomfort.

In time, you can gradually increase the amount you use. I’ve personally noticed that my own ability to process MCT oil has improved the longer I use it.

Summary

Medium Chain Triglycerides are an important and powerful tool in the keto dieter’s nutritional arsenal. Whether you’re struggling to add more fat to your keto diet or not, you can benefit from making sure you get more MCT. You can find it in several natural food sources, like coconuts, but I prefer the ease and convenience of using it in a powdered supplement form.

My Keto Plan

I get asked a lot about what plan I’m following and to most people’s dismay, I tell them my keto plan is just following the principals of the ketogenic diet and working out consistently. That involves a lot of learning! But at the end of the day, I guess I have created my own “plan” if you will, that is dynamic and changes depending on how I feel. This is actually an important aspect of a good weight loss plan because the body adapts quickly to both diet and exercise. If you don’t stimulate the body, it will plateau and cease to progress. Let’s go over some of the core ideas:

Eating

This is where it’s all about the ketogenic diet and getting your body into the fat burning state known as ketosis! It’s actually fairly simple concept on the surface: eat as few carbs as possible (less than 40 g) per day, increase/optimize your intake of good fats, and eat moderate protein. Your fat to protein should be something like 60/40 or 70/30. Don’t make the mistake of eating too much protein! That will cause your body to perform gluconeogenisis, where it breaks down protein for energy and you don’t want that!

Remember to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. You’ll also need decent amounts of dietary salt intake, but don’t go overboard. Avoid vegetables that aren’t green or white, and even some of those are dangerous (e.g. onions and peas should be avoided or eaten very sparingly). I enjoy adding a small handful of blueberries to my diet every couple of days because they are low in sugar (relatively) and full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

If you find that you’re having trouble keeping regular in the bathroom, try eating more fiber sources that don’t add much to your carb intake. Remember that you can subtract fiber listed on the nutrition label from the total number of carbs. You can also subtract sugar alcohols. Broccoli is my go-to for safe keto vegetables.

Some great foods to eat while doing keto: avocados, bacon, eggs, hard cheeses, nuts, meats (just make sure they’re fatty, or served with a good fat source), olives, pickles, sausage, etc.

Some great condiments and seasonings to rely on: mayo, mustard, aoilis (that haven’t been sweetened), vinegar, ranch, blue cheese dressing, red hots and other sugar-less hot sauces, etc.

And just so you get an idea, here’s a very incomplete list of foods you should avoid: bread, pasta, cereal, rice, potatoes, virtually all fruits, carrots, beats, peas, etc.

And watch out for condiments, lots of them sneak in sugar, so avoid: ketchup, bbq sauce, thousand island, french dressing, relish, etc.

As for drinks, stick to water as often as possible. If you’re a coffee or tea fan, you can use heavy cream if you want. Starbucks is one of the few coffee shops that actually stocks heavy cream, and they also have a stevia-based sugar alternative! Check out the blog post I wrote on that!

When in doubt, look up the nutrition facts! Keep your carbs under 40 g for the day, and make sure most of your calories are coming from fat. That’s really all there is to it!

Working out

Do something every day! Even if it’s half effort, get up, and get going… I highly recommend everyone consider adding resistance/strength training to their routine. People who are more into cardio should be careful while doing a ketogenic diet because your body will be very low on glycogen pretty much all the time. Glycogen is what your body uses for fast energy, needed when you’re doing things like running. I’m not much of a runner anyway, so it doesn’t bother me.

I focus on lifting, and I have been doing a 3 day split: push, pull, and legs.

Push Days: on push days, I focus on chest, triceps, and shoulders. Then I throw in an exercise I like to call “hypercores” where I use the hyper-extension bench, do 12 reps of hyper-extensions, then 12 reps of oblique extensions on both sides. This really kicks my butt! I’ll often have to pause for awhile after each set to catch my breath and slow my heart rate down a bit.

Pull Days: I focus on back, delts, lats, and biceps. I also throw in some central abdominal work on the crunch machine, or on a medicine ball.

Leg Days: pretty self explanatory, no?

The actual exercises I do vary, and that’s on purpose to keep my body guessing. I like this split because it gives your muscle groups enough time to rest so that if I didn’t want to have a dedicated rest day, I could immediately repeat it. (I do rest though, but it’s more based on my mood and what else I have going on that day.) Some people might not like the idea of training muscles in the same “group” like this, but I find it to be incredibly effective for me.

Supplements

I’m kind of a supplement junkie and I’m trying to kick the habit, to be honest. The supplement industry is a huge cash cow, and there are all sorts of stuff out there that people really have no idea if it’s effective, or if it’s even safe. Honestly, between you and me, just stick with the basic stuff… don’t get sucked into the hype about thermogenics (which are usually just overloaded caffeine and B-complex pills) or test/thyroid boosters, etc. Here’s what I take:

A Multivitamin

This is important, especially on the ketogenic diet, because you won’t be eating a lot of fruits or vegetables. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the body to function properly and you typically get them from those sources. Since those sources are out, you gotta get them from a multi. I’m currently using Evolution Nutrition Multivitamin VitaMode but you can use any quality multi that you trust.

 

Pre-workout

While not really necessary, and yes, it’s also just a caffeine loader, I do like the little pick-me-up that it gives right before working out. You can also get ones with amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of protein and muscle tissue, so having this floating around your body while you’re lifting weights is beneficial. I currently use Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy with the Green Apple flavor being my favorite!

Protein Powder

Tired and true! After every workout I down a protein shake to help give my muscles the needed resources to rebuild and recover. I’m currently using CytoSport Muscle Milk Light which is great tasting and low in carbs. If you select a different brand, just make sure the carbs are low! Click here to search Amazon for available protein powders!

MCT Oil Powder

I throw a scoop of MCT Oil Powder into my protein shake for an added surge of ketogenic energy. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat that converts rapidly into ketones by the body. It’s found in coconut and is well documented for it’s keogenic properties. Take it slow with this stuff, as chugging too much of it can cause your stomach to be overwhelmed and might give you a tummy ache. But if you ingest it slowly, you should notice a very steady and powerful surge of energy for several hours afterwards. I think this is also great because it encourages the body to use ketones and when it burns through the MCT Oil, it’ll look to dietary fat and your fat stores to make more ketones. I like the brand Quest Nutrition MCT Powder Oil.

Fiber Supplement

Because your diet is going to be lacking in most fruits and vegetables, you may notice that… um… well, how do I say this without being too explicit? Going to the restroom may not be as solid as you once were. This is due to the reduced amounts of fiber in your diet, so it’s not a bad idea to grab a fiber supplement. I personally prefer taking pills/capsules, but you can opt for the powdered form that you mix into a drink. Just don’t overdo it, just like how too little fiber can cause problems, too much fiber can cause them too! Click here to search Amazon for available fiber supplements.

Results

The ketogenic diet is by far the most effective fat loss/cutting diet I have ever tried. You can lose between 1-2 lbs per week easily, if not more, targeted at your fat stores! I also find that it’s remarkably easy to stick with, compared to other diets. On my keto plan, I do not calorie count, and while many foods are off limits, lots of other amazing foods are totally acceptable. I’ve also become fond of trying to recreate my favorite meals following the keto principles. Some people might think this defeats the point of re-training your mind to eat better, but in this case I disagree as long as you’re actually learning about the ingredients. I don’t just follow recipes online, I actually look into the ingredients to see what’s inside. Walking away from this, I have much more knowledge on the macronutrient content of different foods. I encourage people to look at the ketogenic diet like this, developing a new relationship with carbohydrates, so they work for you instead of against you!

I’ll continue to post my progress and other related articles on my site, so if you’re interested please consider subscribing! Or just come back at a future date. You can also find all my current ketogenic related posts by using this category link. 🙂 GOOD LUCK!