Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Dec;27(12):1565-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802467.


Objective: Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) consumption has been shown to increase energy expenditure (EE) and lead to greater losses of the adipose tissue in animals and humans. The objective of this research was to examine the relationship between body composition and thermogenic responsiveness to MCT treatment.

Design: Randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trial, with diets rich in either MCT or long-chain triglyceride (LCT) (as olive oil) for periods of 4 weeks each.

Subjects: A total of 19 healthy overweight men aged (x+/-s.e.m.) 44.5+/-2.5 y with a body mass index of 27.8+/-0.5 kg/m(2).

Measurements: EE and body composition were measured using indirect calorimetry and magnetic resonance imaging, respectively, at the baseline and end point of each feeding period. EE was measured for 30 min before consumption of a standard meal and for 5.5 h following the meal.

Results: Body weight (BW) decreased (P<0.05) by 1.03+/-0.25 kg with MCT consumption compared to 0.62+/-0.29 kg with LCT consumption. The difference in average EE between MCT and LCT consumptions was related to initial BW, such that men with lower initial BW had a greater rise in EE with MCT consumption relative to LCT on day 28 (r=-0.472, P=0.04) but not day 2 (r=-0.368, P=0.12). Similar results were obtained with fat oxidation on day 28 (r=-0.553, P=0.01). The greater rise in fat oxidation with MCT compared to LCT consumption on day 2 tended to be related to greater loss of BW after MCT vs LCT consumption (r=-0.4075, P=0.08).

Conclusion: These data suggest that shunting of dietary fat towards oxidation results in diminished fat storage, as reflected by the loss of BW and subcutaneous adipose tissue. Furthermore, MCT consumption may stimulate EE and fat oxidation to a lower extent in men of greater BW compared to men of lower BW, indicative of the lower responsiveness to a rapidly oxidized fat by overweight men.International

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects
  • Triglycerides / chemistry
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Plant Oils
  • Triglycerides