Impact of MCT Oil and Caffeine on Substrate Metabolism during Submaximal Exercise Original Research

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Christopher J Kotarsky
Benjamin Louchheim
Caroline Saros
Hayden Smith
Kayla Rose
Stephen J Ives


fat oxidation, carbohydrate oxidation, medium-chain triglyceride oil


Introduction: Recent research has suggested that medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) supplementation may increase fat oxidation (FatOx) during aerobic exercise, sparing muscle glycogen and, perhaps, enhancing performance. As both MCT and caffeine (CAF) are theorized to elicit these effects, this pilot study’s purpose was to compare the physiological responses of their combined supplementation during submaximal cycling exercise.

Methods:  Eight aerobically trained males (mean±SD; age 23.6±4.4 years; body mass 82.3±15.8 kg; height 180.9±8.7 cm) completed one aerobic capacity (VO2peak) test and three 45-min exercise trials at 60% VO2peak. Blinded and counterbalanced, one-hour prior to each trial, participants consumed: MCT+CAF (20 mL + 100 mg), long-chain triglycerides (LCT)+CAF (40 mL + 100 mg), or CAF (100 mg). Oxygen consumption (VO2), carbon dioxide output (VCO2), and minute ventilation (VE) were measured, subsequently calculating respiratory exchange ratio (RER), energy expenditure (EE), carbohydrate oxidation (CarbOx), and FatOx.

Results: No significant differences between conditions were observed for average VO2 (p=0.474; η2=0.101), VE (p=0.323; η2=0.149), (RER (p=0.323; η2=0.149), EE (p=0.474; η2=0.101), CarbOx (p=0.274; η2=0.169), or FatOx (p=0.478; η2=0.100) or for total EE (p=0.474; η2=0.101), CarbOx (p=0.274; η2=0.169), or FatOx (p=0.478; η2=0.100).

Conclusions: Co-ingestion of MCT+CAF didn’t produce any significantly different physiological responses compared to co-ingestion of LCT+CAF or the CAF control.

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