CapTri® – The MCT Metabolic Enhancer

May 26, 2009 by  

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With overeating and obesity on the rise, researchers are working hard at finding a “cure,” so it doesn’t surprise me that there’s more good news coming from labs on the power of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to fight fat.

For background, MCTs are a special class of fatty acids; our MCT oil is CapTri®. Normal fats and oils contain long-chain fatty acids (LCTs). Compared to these fatty acids, MCTs are much shorter in length. Therefore, they resemble carbohydrates, and act like them in the body, more than fat. As a result, CapTri® is more easily absorbed, digested, and utilized as energy than conventional fats. This structure accounts for the ability of CapTri® to stimulate the thermic effect of food and increase body temperature.

Proof of a Metabolic Boost

Hill and coworkers also compared the metabolic effect of medium chain triglycerides with that of long chain triglycerides. Ten male volunteers were hospitalized and fed diets containing 30 percent of calories from either MCT or LCT. Metabolic rate was measured before, during, and after the experiment. Each subject was studied for one week on each diet in a double-blind crossover design. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is defined as the difference between metabolic rate during a six-hour period after eating and the resting metabolic rate. That is, it is a measure of the increase in metabolic rate caused by eating the test meal. On day one of the experiment, the TEF of the meal containing MCT accounted for 8 percent of the ingested energy, while the TEF of the LCT meal accounted for 5.5 percent of the ingested energy. (1)

On day six of the experiment, the TEF of the MCT meal had increased to 12 percent of ingested energy, and the TEF of the LCT meal was 6.6 percent of ingested energy. This means that the MCT-enhancement of the metabolic rate increased during the course of the experiment as the subjects became acclimated to the MCTs. On the last day of the trial, the subjects were fed a liquid diet by continuous tube feeding. During this experiment it was found that the TEF of the MCT meal increased to 15.7 percent of ingested energy, and the TEF of the LCT meal was 7.3 percent of ingested energy. So the increase in metabolic rate was even greater when MCT was administered continually.

A Fast-Burning Supplement

Medium-chain triglycerides are found naturally in coconut oil. Supplemental MCT oil is obtained through lipid fractionation, the process in which MCTs are separated from other components of coconut oil. Medium-chain triglycerides were originally formulated in the 1950s as an alternative food source for patients who are too ill to properly digest normal fats. The long chains of LCTs require a lot of bile acids and many digestive steps to be broken down into smaller units that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they are absorbed by fat cells and stored as body fat. In contrast, MCTs are more water-soluble and are able to enter the bloodstream quicker because of their shorter lengths. Once in the bloodstream, they are transported directly into the liver. Thus, MCTs are an immediately available source of energy and not stored as body fat.

In 1986, Seaton and colleagues demonstrated in humans that a meal containing MCTs increased oxygen consumption 12 percent for 6 hours following the meal, while an LCT-containing meal increased oxygen consumption by only 4 percent. This indicates that MCTs are burned faster than conventional fats and increase the metabolic rate more. The increase in energy expenditure accounted for 13 percent of the energy contained in the MCT meal and 4 percent of the energy contained in the LCT meal. (2)

A True Fat-Loss Supplement

Substituting moderate amounts of medium-chain triglycerides for other fats in a weight-loss program results in enhanced weight loss and a greater reduction in fat mass, according to the findings of a double-blind randomized trial.

In a 16-week study, 31 overweight patients consumed 10 grams a day of either olive oil or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil in muffins. Women in the study also consumed another 8 grams a day of their assigned oil and the men consumed an additional 14 grams a day. All of the subjects participated in dietitian-led weekly group weight-loss counseling sessions that stressed consumption of a low-energy-intensity diet, encouraged healthy eating patterns, and set a target energy intake of 1,500 calories a day for the women and 1,800 calories a day for the men. The study oils accounted for roughly 12 percent of participants’ weight-loss energy prescription.

At 16 weeks, the MCT group had lost significantly more weight: an average of 7 pounds, or 3.8 percent of their baseline body weight, compared with 1.7 percent in the olive oil group. The MCT group also had a reduction in trunk fat mass in intra-abdominal adipose tissue. (3)

CapTri® Preserves Muscle during Low-Carb Eating

As you may know, the Parrillo Program is based on eating high amounts of protein and complex carbs and keeping fat intake to a minimum. Of course, everyone’s metabolism is different and can handle foods differently. If you’ve worked with the Parrillo program you know that to lose body fat, we recommend cutting carbohydrate calories. We don’t dispute the fact that you can lose body fat by lowering carbs, thus reducing insulin. What is wrong with high fat programs is the use of dietary fat. Studies have shown that dietary fat is very prone to being stored as body fat. Not only does dietary fat contribute more to fat stores than carbs or protein, but high fat foods are loaded in cholesterol and trans fatty acids, making you a prime candidate for heart disease. The way you utilize the low-carb strategy on the Parrillo Program is with the help of CapTri®. CapTri® helps preserve muscle mass during fat loss–especially in times of low-carb dieting. Cutting back on carbs can be rough, and it can sacrifice muscle tissue, so any help you can get in retaining lean tissue while on a low-carb diet is important. CapTri® plays such an anticatabolic role. So use it to preserve muscle when you’re cutting carbs. CapTri® is the healthy approach to low-carb/high-fat dieting.

Using CapTri®

I suggest that you take ½ to 1 or more tablespoons with each meal; up to six tablespoons per day. Consult the Parrillo CapTri® Manual for more detailed usage guidelines.

One good way to use CapTri® is as a substitute for other oils in salad dressing–just add vinegar, herbs and spices. MCTs emulsify (go into and stay in solution) easier than many other lipids, so they’re a bit more versatile than regular oil in that you can mix them successfully in other Parrillo supplements such as ProCarb.

CapTri® should not completely replace all dietary fats, as this would result in a deficiency of other fatty acids—essential fatty acids —that the human body needs from food sources. To avoid essential fatty acid deficiencies, a person should also include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their diets. Good sources of essential fatty acids include fish, Parrillo Fish Oil DHA 800 EPA 200, and Parrillo Evening Primrose Oil 1000.


1. Hill, J.O., et al. 1989. Thermogenesis in humans during overfeeding with medium chain triglycerides. Metabolism 38: 641-648.

2. Seaton, T.B., et al. 1986. Thermic effect of medium chain and long chain triglycerides in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 44: 630-634.

3. St-Onge M.P., et al. 2008. Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27:547-52.


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