What are MCTs?
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are certain types of fats characterized by their medium-length fatty acid chains, much shorter than the long-chain fatty acids found in most dietary fats. Their small size allows MCTs to be quickly absorbed by the small intestine and transported to the liver, where they can ultimately be converted to ketones. Ketones act as an energy source for the body in the absence of carbs, making MCTs a key ingredient in the ketogenic diet.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet (or keto diet) is a fat-based diet that leads to the depletion of the body’s glycogen stores, causing the body to break down fat. As fat is broken down, ketones are produced, which the body burns for energy instead of glucose.
While the classic keto diet required 80-90% fat—making it notoriously difficult to follow—a 1970’s modification known as the MCT keto diet reduced the fat requirement through supplementation with MCTs. This is the popular keto diet of today and requires an intake of around 70-80% fat, 10-20% protein, and 5-10% carbs.
For most people, this translates to fewer than 50 grams of carbs per day, meaning grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and most fruits are out. Meat, seafood, eggs, high-fat dairy products like cheese and butter, non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and plant oils make up the bulk of the keto diet. The transition into ketosis takes one to three days and may be accompanied by a reduction in food cravings.
Who is the Keto Consumer?
According to Mintel research, the typical keto consumer is a 25- to 54-year-old, urban, adventure eater. Keto dieters are split equally between men and women and are more likely to have children.1 The availability of keto options has grown more important to consumers, with 29% of North American consumers indicating ketogenic is either important or very important when choosing sports nutrition products, according to FMCG Gurus.2
Innova data shows the proportion of North American new keto product launches using MCT has been growing, with coconut-based MCTs the most popular. 3 With consumers using the “keto kickstart” to kick off a new diet post-COVID, expect many new consumers to seek out keto products that will support their efforts.