Medium-chain triglycerides are advantageous in promoting weight loss although not beneficial to exercise performance

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Nov;61(7):653-79. doi: 10.3109/09637481003702114.


Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are triglycerides with a fatty acid chain length varying between 6 and 10 carbon atoms. MCT differ from long-chain triglycerides as they are relatively soluble in water and, hence, rapidly hydrolysed and absorbed. MCT are transported in the blood through the portal system, consequently they bypass adipose tissue that makes them less susceptible to hormone-sensitive lipase and deposition into adipose tissue stores. Due to these properties, MCT have been researched for both benefits to exercise performance and health. The present review aims to assess whether MCT are beneficial in either of these situations. MCT have been proposed as a means to maximizing an athlete's ability to maintain their glycogen stores so they can be more competitive. However, only two studies to date have shown an improvement in exercise performance. From a health perspective, MCT increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure as well as reduce food intake and beneficially alter body composition. Results indicate that MCT feeding is ineffective in improving exercise performance and future work should focus on the health benefits and applications of MCT.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance* / physiology
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology*
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • Triglycerides