Fat for Fuel!
For years, we were sold on the notion that we should fear fat & avoid it at all costs. While some sources of fat can increase inflammation and contribute to adverse health effects, there are many healthy fats that we absolutely need for our bodies to function optimally!
Triglycerides (the formal word for fats) provide the most energy per gram (9kcal/g) as compared to carbohydrates or protein (4kcal/g). Triglycerides are the backbone for many important processes in the body: hormone manufacture, nervous system function, energy production. To avoid fats altogether means to miss out on many crucial nutrients and precursors.
Recently, the conversation on fat has shifted and the focus is on how fat can help aid us in our health journeys. In terms of energy utilization and fuel, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have caught attention with their ability to absorb quickly into the bloodstream and thus be used efficiently for energy.
Many of the fats we consume are long-chain triglycerides but MCTs are fats that have 6-10 carbons specifically. A shorter chain means quicker intake by the liver and a higher likelihood that these fats are used as a fuel source rather than being stored. Research has shown that this can result in a higher metabolic rate. In fact, one study demonstrasted that MCTs can boost metabolism 2x more than long-chain triglycerides! Our body’s preferential treatment of MCTs as an energy source means they are a great option for longer lasting satiation and energy, which is why they have been brought into the spotlight by health and fitness experts.
Coconut oil may be the best known oil with MCTs so it can be a good option to have in the diet. However, majority of coconut oil contains lauric acid, which can also act as a long-chain triglyceride and does not absorb as readily as the shorter capric and caprylic acids. If you can tolerate dairy, grass-fed butter is another good source of MCTs. For overall health, coconut oil and grass-fed butter are great to include in your diet. If you want to use MCTs for increased and sustained energy, there are companies that offer pure MCT oils. However, when buying an MCT oil, make sure it is high quality with no fillers and least amount of processing. MCT oil can be added to coffee, matcha, salad dressings or food (although it shouldn’t be heated to the point of smoking). Adding MCT oil to the diet can result in longer satiation and more efficient utilization of fat for fuel.
Here’s a simple Matcha latte recipe to fuel your day:
1 cup hot water (just before the boil)
1 tsp high quality Matcha powder
1/2 cup unsweetened alternative milk (almond, coconut, flax, soy, etc.)
1 tsp of high-quality MCT oil
Optional: 1 teaspoon honey (if the taste is too earthy for you but I opt to add the least amount of sugar possible)
Blend on high for 10 seconds Enjoy in the morning for a boost in energy & focus!