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J Lipid Res. 1996 Apr;37(4):708-26.

The usefulness of dietary medium-chain triglycerides in body weight control: fact or fancy?

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  • 1CEPE, CNRS, Strasbourg, France.


Compared to long-chain triglycerides (LCT), medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) display some specific physico-chemical, and biological characteristics. Thus, MCT are currently used in clinical nutrition as energy-yielding substrates, and have been advocated for three decades as a useful mean for body weight reduction. This review encompasses most aspects of MCT metabolism arguing this slimming hypothesis pro and con. Findings in support of the opinion (lower energy density, control of satiety, rapid intrahepatic delivery and oxidation rates, poor adipose tissue incorporation) may be invalidated by counteracting data (stimulation of insulin secretion and of anabolic-related processes, increased de novo fatty acid synthesis, induced hypertriglyceridemia). The balance between these two opposing influences depends on the composition (energy intake, nature of ingredients, MCT/LCT ratio, octanoate/decanoate ratio) and duration of the regimen. Due to the high energy level (around 50%) of MCT necessary to achieve body weight loss, long-term compliance to such slimming regimens is unlikely in human nutrition.

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