medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)

medium-chain triglycerides (MCT)

triglyceride molecules containing fatty acids with a carbon chain length of 6-10. Used in sports to provide a rapid source of fatty acid fuel. Their fatty acids are absorbed from the gut into the blood (rather than into lymphatics as are long-chain triglycerides) and thus rapidly reach the liver directly via the portal vein. Entering the general circulation, they rapidly raise the free fatty acids available to the tissues, where they readily enter cells to be used as a fuel. Being oxidized as easily as glucose, they might therefore have liver and muscle glycogen-sparing effects, delaying the onset of fatigue during endurance-type exercise. However, only a few of the numerous studies on MCT supplements have shown an increase in performance, and most reported some gastrointestinal problems. See also ergogenic aids; appendix 4.4 .
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