The key difference between MCT and LCT is that MCT contains carbon fatty acids with 6 – 12 chains, whereas LCT contains carbon fatty acids with >12 carbon chains.
Triglyceride is the major form of fat stored by the body. The fats we eat, such as butter, margarine, and oils, can often be found in the form of triglycerides. Moreover, the excess calories, alcohol, and sugar in the body turn into triglycerides, and thereafter, these are stored in fat cells throughout the body. There are two types of triglycerides: medium-chain triglycerides and long-chain triglycerides.
What is MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride)?
The term MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. These are triglyceride compounds with two or three fatty acids having an aliphatic tail of 6 – 12 carbon atoms. These compounds can be found in palm kernel oil and coconut oil, and we can separate MCT from them via fractionation. Moreover, we can use interesterification to produce MCT. However, retail MCT powder contains carbohydrates in addition to fats because this MCT is embedded in starch. We can produce this type of MCT powder by spray drying.
MCT can be used for calorie restriction because, according to some studies, it can decrease subsequent energy intake but does not affect the appetite. Moreover, it is used for dietary relevance because, according to some molecular weight analyses of milk from different species, milk fats primarily contain long-chain fatty acids, while approximately 10 – 20% of fatty acid content in milk from horses, cows, sheep, and goats is medium chain fatty acids. According to some other research, MCTs promote fat oxidation and reduced food intake and are recommended by some endurance athletes and the bodybuilding community.
Furthermore, MCTs can passively diffuse from the GI tract to the portal system without having to modify long-chain fatty acids and very long-chain fatty acids. Additionally, these compounds do not require bile salts for digestion. Therefore, we can use it to treat patients with malnutrition, malabsorption, and some fatty acid metabolism disorders. This is because MCTs do not require energy for absorption, use, and storage.
What is LCT (Long Chain Triglyceride)?
The term LCT stands for long-chain triglycerides. These are considered the most important dietary lipids. The digestion of these compounds depends on an intricate interplay among pancreatic lipase, colipase, and bile acids. Moreover, it hydrolyzes a triglyceride molecule into two fatty acid molecules and 2-monoacyglycerol. In order to perform this reaction, lipase binds to the oil-water interface of oil droplets. The food items that we can find LCTs are olive oil, soybean oil, fish, nuts, avocado, and meat. LCTs and 2-monoglycerol are absorbed after the incorporation into micelles.
According to some research studies, protein and carbohydrates can provide about 17 kJ g-1 energy, while LCTs can provide about 38 kJ g-1. Therefore, these fatty acids are used in producing energy in the cell mitochondria and peroxisomes.
What is the Difference Between MCT and LCT?
MCT and LCT are derivatives of triglycerides. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides whereas LCT stands for long-chain triglycerides. The key difference between MCT and LCT is that MCT contains carbon fatty acids with 6 – 12 chains, whereas LCT contains carbon fatty acids with >12 carbon chains.
Below is a summary of the difference between MCT and LCT in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – MCT vs LCT
The term MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides while the term LCT stands for long-chain triglycerides. The key difference between MCT and LCT is that MCT contains carbon fatty acids with 6 – 12 chains, whereas LCT contains carbon fatty acids with >12 carbon chains.
1. “Linalool.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
1. “Medium-chain Triglyceride Structural Formula V.2” By Jü – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia