Tag Archives: ketogenic 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.

Keto vs. Paleo: which diet is right for you?

Let me start by saying that I am an advocate of both the ketogenic diet and the paleo diet. But there can be a lot of confusion out there on what the differences between them are, and why you would choose one over the other. Some people think they are practically the same, but I disagree! I wanted to write this blog post to discuss this and help others understand the key differences in order to help them make the right choice.

TLDR; the ketogenic diet is an extremely effective diet for weight loss, but it’s generally not a well-balanced diet and is better used as a weight-loss tool in your eating habit arsenal. The paleo diet can be a lifestyle choice, returning the foods you eat to a more natural origin. More natural means foods that generally are not overly processed, especially foods that made up the human diet prior to the agricultural revolution.

Brief Keto Overview

The ketogenic diet is an ultra low carbohydrate diet that consists mostly of healthy fat and modest protein. It has been studied extensively, and has been used clinically to treat people with certain forms of drug resistant epilepsy. Carbohydrates rank very high on the body’s “use first” energy scale, followed by fat, and then protein. When you stop providing large quantities of Ketogenic macronutrient pie chartcarbohydrates, your body switches over to burning fat for fuel, which creates a metabolic byproduct called ketones. This is where the name “ketogenic” comes from! In a ketogenic state, your body will burn dietary fat first, and then begin tapping into your stored fat.

 

Many “fad diets” either start with a ketogenic inspired phase, or cycle ketogenic phases throughout the diet. But this isn’t necessary, especially if you’re just starting. Instead of buying into the hype of new Hollywood diets, why not just do the original? Besides, some of those fad diets can be harmful! On the topic of harm, it’s important to know that the ketogenic diet is not a balanced diet. Because of this, you should take a multi-vitamin and perhaps a fiber supplement if you find you’re not having bowel movements as much as you should.

Brief Paleo Overview

The paleo diet focuses on eating natural, easily digestible foods, especially those that existed prior to the agricultural revolution. The main reason for that is because those foods were the ones we could find and eat without advanced technology. The research behind paleo thinking suggests that foods like wheat, beans, dairy, etc. cause harmful inflammation, wrecks havoc on gut flora, and simply represents a macronutrient profile that isn’t optimal for our bodies. (i.e. too many carbs!) We evolved with a multitude of environmental factors in play over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, so one thought is that our bodies haven’t been able to catch up to things domesticated and invented more recently.
In general, eating paleo is really just trying to eat cleaner! Definitely optimize your food sources for organic and local, skip out on those overly abundant carb sources, but still allow fruits and veggies. Eat quality meat, and stick to water, occasional juices, etc. Many people go “strict” paleo for awhile, especially if they’re attempting to address allergy or inflammation issues, and then slowly add certain foods back in: such as some dairy, rice, potatoes, etc. (These are known as the “gray area” foods.)

Direct Comparison: the face-off!

Keto Paleo
General fat intake Eat tons of fat, about 70% or more of your calories should come from “good” fats. What is considered “good” on keto is not necessarily “good” on paleo: for example, keto allows vegetable and nut oils, while paleo does not. Not concerned about how much fat you eat, but definitely emphasizes that dietary fat is good for you as long as it’s natural.
General carb intake You must dramatically reduce your carbohydrate intake. While the exact reduction will be person-dependent, generally speaking the number is less than 40 grams of carbs per day. (e.g. all fruits, and most veggies, are not allowed.) No explicit restriction on carbohydrate intake, as long as it’s coming from “paleo” food sources. (e.g. fruits and veggies are allowed!)
General protein intake You must be careful with your protein intake while doing keto. This is because if you go above 20-30% of your caloric intake from protein, your body will start to use it for fuel kicking off a process called gluconeogenesis. This will take you out of ketosis! Have at it! As long as the protein is from “natural” sources (e.g. meats) you’re good to go.
Balanced diet? Definitely NOT! You must supplement at minimum a multivitamin while on the keto diet as you won’t be getting critical nutrients and minerals from fruits, vegetables, and fortified foods. Generally, yes, but you still need to ensure that you eat a variety of foods, and include foods from all the available food groups like meats, veggies, fruits, etc.
Is dairy allowed? Depends: milk, yogurt, and ‘soft’ cheeses are generally not allowed. Hard cheeses and butter, on the other hand, have had most or all of the sugar/lactose removed, and what is left is a solid fat/protein powerhouse food! Grey-area, some people allow butter, but nothing else. Strict paleo would not allow any dairy whatsoever, backed by well documented cases of dairy allergens like lactose.

These are just a handful of markers to compare the two diets. Remember, both of them have their merits! Do you have any other stand-out markers I should add to this table? Feel free to write me a comment and I’ll consider it!

Conclusion

At the end of the day, both diets are excellent in my book. I use the keto diet for rapid weight loss, and consider the paleo diet a “long term” lifestyle change. At the moment, I’ve been following the ketogenic diet for over 9 months now. I’ve attained a body fat percentage that I would have never thought possible. (Under 10% body fat, which for me is insane!) I of course advocate others to consider approaching these two diets the way I do, and incorporate them into their lives. Once satisfied with my progress using the keto diet, I will switch over to the paleo diet in order to maintain my hard earned physique for the long run.