Components of total energy expenditure in healthy young women are not affected after 14 days of feeding with medium-versus long-chain triglycerides

Obes Res. 1999 May;7(3):273-80. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1999.tb00406.x.


Objective: To examine the effect of consumption of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) vs. long-chain triglycerides (LCT) on total energy expenditure (TEE) and its components in young women during the second week of a 2-week feeding period.

Research methods and procedures: Twelve healthy lean women (age: 22.7+/-0.7 years, body mass index [BMI]: 21.5+/-0.8 kg/m2) were fed weight maintenance diets containing 15% of energy as protein, 45% as carbohydrate, and 40% as fat, 80% of which was treatment fat, for 2 weeks in a randomized cross-over design separated by a 2-week washout period. Dietary fat was composed of triglycerides containing either 26% medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and 74% long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), or 2% MCFA and 98% LCFA. Free-living TEE was measured from day 7 to 14 on each dietary treatment using doubly labeled water (DLW). Basal metabolic rate (BMR) and thermic effect of food (TEF) were measured on days 7 and 14 using respiratory gas exchange analysis (RGE) for 30 minutes and 330 minutes, respectively. Activity-induced energy expenditure (AIEE) was derived as the difference between TEE and the sum of BMR and TEF.

Results: The average TEE while consuming the MCT diet (2246+/-98 kcal/day) did not differ from that of the LCT diet (2186+/-138 kcal/day. BMR was significantly higher on the MCT diet on day 7 (1219+/-38 kcal/day vs. 1179+/-42 kcal/day), but not on day 14; there was no effect of diet on TEF. There were no differences in BMR, TEF, or AIEE between diets when expressed as percentages of TEE. On average, BMR, TEF, and AIEE represented 54.6%, 8.2%, and 37.2%, respectively, of TEE.

Discussion: Results suggest that between day 7 and day 14 feeding of MCT vs. LCT at these levels, TEE is not affected and that increases seen in energy expenditure following MCT feeding may be of short duration. Thus, compensatory mechanisms may exist which blunt the effect of MCT on energy components over the longer term.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Deuterium / urine
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / physiology
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Isotopes / analysis
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / chemistry
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Triglycerides
  • Deuterium