MCTs vs. LCTs: transit time and preference

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 14, 2011 at 1:49 AM

Does anyone know what the difference in transit time is between Medium Chain Triglycerides and Long Chain Triglycerides in digestion? ANy references to scholarship concerning this topic. MCTs don't appear to afford as long-lasting energy as LCTs based on personal feeling but I would like to know specific statistics regarding transit time in digestion so as to plan meals that accomodate these times, ie. when energy stores are depleted(eg. MCT-rich meal: transit time for x-amount of grams of y-source of MCTs would be q-time; thus consume another x-amount of y q-amount of time latter. Same goes for the LCTs). Many of us don't have the time to "eat when we feel like it" and must plan out our meals often days in advance. Also, many of us are athletes whose activities require planning to maximize energy and maintenance of muscle mass(lean body mass) as well as furnishing ourselves with optimal nutrients(my belief is everyone should follow these precriptions but...that is MY belief after all). Any feedback would be appreciated.

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2 Answers



on April 29, 2012
at 06:41 AM

Read both of these...some good insights.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/127/6/1061.full http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC292686/pdf/jcinvest00260-0073.pdf

It obviously differs in all individuals, but LCT digestion is going to take at least 4 hours (likely 6-7 hours in most) to get through the stomach and small intestine. The small intestine is where the Pancreatic enzymes break down the LCT's into the fatty acids. This is the key step that is minimal (or even unnecessary) with MCT's.

So in-terms of timing, obviously it's going to depend a lot on your activity for that day. Timing of MCT's seem to be favorable pre-workout and as a "snack" or "pick me up" during a long day. Obviously using them as a staple in all meals is perfectly fine because of many of the other associated health benefits of the popular forms of MCT's (Coconut Oil, MCT Oil) used by humans. The LCT's on the other hand won't provide the energy boost, but should have a fairly immediate effect on appetite regulation and can also be used as a snack food (I prefer walnuts or macadamia nuts).


on April 29, 2012
at 02:16 PM

MCT's are absorbed without being packaged up in chylomicrons as they are smaller. This can occur quite rapidly in a half hour or less apparently (I've personally experienced severe abdominal cramping and diarrhea from MCT oil on occasion within 15 min of consuming). LCT's must be packaged into chylomicrons and transported through the lymphatic system before reaching circulation. However triglycerides do begin to rise considerably around an hour after ingestion but peak usually around the 3-4 hr post meal point. There's some thoughts that some of the early chylos are "leftovers" in the intestinal cells that are released in anticipation of new ingested fat.

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