Table of Contents
Triglycerides Molecular Structure
Triglyceride is a technical term for fat and when digested and are used in 2 different ways.
They either go into the cell and are used for energy or they are stored into adipose cells as body fat.
Dietary fats are molecules composed of individual carbon atoms linked into chains ranging from 2 to 22 carbon atoms in length.
Small Chain Triglyceride (SCT): 2 – 6 carbon chains
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT): 6 – 10 carbon chain
Large Chain Triglyceride (LCT): 12 – 22 carbon chain
How Energy Is Created From Triglycerides
No matter if the fat consumed is SCT, MCT, LCT, all triglycerides are 3 fatty acids bonded to a glycerol molecule backbone. Hence Tri – Glyceride.
What makes MCT’s different from most other fat’s is MCT have 10% less calories compared to other fats. The reason is because of the shorter chain. Because of this they are digested easier and converted into energy faster.
The mitochondria which is where energy is created in our cells, creates ATP. ATP is what gives energy for literally everything thing that we do.
The power of MCT oils is they can go right into the mitochondria and create energy whereas LCT gets stopped at the gateway and needs carnitine to get in.
Which is why you’ll notice some people take L-Carnitine as a supplement because it helps the long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria to create energy better.
Long Chain Triglycerides Digestion Process
After consuming LCT, the fatty acids are separated by an enzyme called lipase. During that process the fatty acids separate off of the glycerol molecule, then the fatty acids form a micelle.
The purpose of a micelle is to cross through the intestinal tract, it can cross through the enterocyte and gets into the lymphatic system, once in the lymphatic system it reattaches to a glycerol molecule
This entire process involves the liver, involves bile salt it’s a very complex process. To break down fats it is not easy which is why it is hard to digest
Medium Chain Triglycerides Digestion Process
MCT’s have a shorter chain length than LCT’s, because of that they don’t need micelle-containing bile salts or chylomicron formation. MCT’s are directly transported from the portal vein into the liver. This makes the digestion much faster!
In the liver they are oxidized for fuel. The liver catabolizes these MCT’s in shorter carbon chains, another reason why they are easier to digest.
Ultimately the liver breaks the MCT’s down into C2 fragments. C2 meaning 2 chains, 2 carbon atoms. Then they are turned into Actyl-Coa esters. These are the building blocks for energy in the mitochondria.
Once we have the Acytl-Coa esters, they get metabolized by Acetyl Coa dehydrogenase which is what breaks down the Acytl-Coa and acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate aka ketones! And ketones are what we use as fuel on the keto diet!
Another added benefit is because of the “vip” pass to the liver, they do not get stored as fat instead they get converted into ketones and used for energy!