MCFAs, or medium-chain fatty acids, are a type of saturated fat found in coconut oil. MCFAs consist of eight to 10 carbon atoms strung together in a row. LCFAs, or long-chain fatty acids, are made up of 12 or more carbon atoms in a row and are prevalent in dairy products and meats. In the 1960s, studies done in animals shows that LCFAs were more likely to lead to fat deposits whereas MCFAs were metabolized by the liver. In the early 1990s, researchers began to study the effects of MCFAs on humans, examining metabolic rate change. The group consuming MCFAs had a statistically significant metabolic rate increase, leading to increased weight loss.
Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCFAs. Two thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat. MCFAs do not need to use the liver or gallbladder to digest themselves. This means coconut oil is processed as a source of instant energy and increases the metabolic rate of the body. The MCFAs in the body are converted to ketones if you consume enough MCFAs. Since coconut oil is approximately 65% MCFAs, two tablespoons of coconut oil can produce enough ketones to support healthy brain function. Improved memory, cognition and attention have been reported in trials using a higher level of ketones.