Research: Evidence supports the ketogenic diet

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The Ketogenic Diet: Does it work?

Low Carbohydrate

Low Carbohydrate

First, let’s define ketogenic diet.  A keto or ketogenic diet is not a new concept.  Infect you might know it by a different name.  The keto diet is also known as the low carbohydrate, high-fat diet.  This diet is the one that has been vilified by experts for years, yet it is the one that closely resembled the diet of our forefathers.  

Since carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and glucose is the primary energy source for most of your body, it can be much harm, right?  The concept behind the keto diet is that sugar causes the release of insulin and insulin induces fat storage and hunger of which both are bad if you are trying to lose weight.  The theory is that if you limit carbohydrates, you limit insulin spikes and thus assist with weight loss.  Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy and store the rest as fat.  By reducing

Obese

Obese

your intake of carbohydrates, your body will go into a starvation type mode that induces what we call ketosis.  Ketosis is a natural process in which your body will attempt to survive during a period with less food.  During this state, our bodies are unable to fully burn fats, so we produce ketones in our liver to use as energy.  The best part of ketones is that they cannot be efficiently used as energy, so we lose some in our urine and the state of ketosis reduced hunger.  

By reducing your intake of carbohydrates, your body will go into a starvation type mode that induces what we call ketosis.  Ketosis is a natural process in which your body will attempt to survive during a period with less food.  During this state, our bodies are unable to burn fats fully, so we produce ketones in our liver to use as energy.  The best part of ketones is that they cannot be efficiently used as energy, so we lose some in our urine and the state of ketosis reduced hunger.  

Nutrition Confusion

Nutrition Confusion

So what about the research?  I hint at this in a prior article: Low-carb Diets Could Be Better For Weight Loss.  A new article, “The Ketogenic Diet: A Solution to Ireland’s Obesity Epidemic?“, published in Irish Medical Journal in March of 2017 backs the belief that these higher fat and lower carbohydrate diets may be an answer for some patients.  Ireland is facing an obesity epidemic just like the United States. Just like the United States, the government of Ireland has advocated for an approach to weight loss that emphasizes increased exercise; decreased fat intake; increased carbohydrate, vegetable, and fruit consumption.  Despite the Irish government’s best intentions, this approach has not worked there either.  

The author of the article used research form 2010 that makes a powerful argument for ketogenic diets, so I decided to look further at the background research.  One research study used to back this claim was “Beneficial effects of ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects” from the August 2007 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.  In this study, researchers enrolled a total of 64 healthy obese subjects with body mass index greater than 30.   The researchers measured multiple body measures and blood tests to include body weight, body mass index, blood glucose level, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, urea and creatinine measurements.   These tests were done at the onset of the study and 8, 16, 24, 48, and 56 weeks after the initiation of the ketogenic diet.  The researchers found that body weight, body mass index, the level of blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and urea showed a significant decrease from week 1 to week 56 on a ketogenic diet.  

There are additional study and research to back this up in both diabetics type 2 and non-diabetics[1],[2],[3].  If you want to read more, I suggest you read “Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?”[4].  

The bottom line: Ketogenic diets are the old Adkins theory under a different name.  Studies show the beneficial effects of ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects following its long-term and short-term administration. Furthermore, low carbohydrate diet is safe to use for a longer period and assists with appetite reduction and lose body fat.  

References

[1]
N. B. Bueno, I. S. V. de Melo, S. L. de Oliveira, and T. da Rocha Ataide, “Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials,” B, vol. 110, no. 07, pp. 1178–1187, May 2013. [Source]
[2]
A. Johnstone, G. Horgan, S. Murison, D. Bremner, and G. Lobley, “Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum.,” Am J Clin Nutr, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 44–55, Jan. 2008. [PubMed]
[3]
M. Veldhorst et al., “Protein-induced satiety: Effects and mechanisms of different proteins,” P, vol. 94, no. 2, pp. 300–307, May 2008. [Source]
[4]
A. Paoli, “Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe?,” I, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 2092–2107, Feb. 2014. [Source]
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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