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How effective is ketogenic diet in weight loss?

In this post we will review the ketogenic diet using scientific research to see if the keto diet is truly superior for weight loss than any other diet. If you haven’t yet seen the article about what a ketogenic is, what it involves, benefits and negatives, I would strongly suggest checking it out. You can read it here.

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Is Ketogenic Diet the best for weight loss? – REVIEW

Lets take a look at some studies. Firstly, there was a study conducted by the Department of Human Sciences (2019) explored the relationship between weight loss, training and ketogenic dieting in Military Personnel. They compared 15 participants on a ketogenic diet with daily measures of blood ketones against 14 other participants on a normal mixed diet. A few tests were conducted before and after to determine a change in body composition, body fat, liver fat, insulin sensitivity, resting energy metabolism (how many calories we burn when we are resting) and physical performance.

The 15 participants on ketogenic diet which was proven by the daily ketone tests have shown greater rate of fat oxidation (fat burn), an average weight loss of 7.7kg body mass and 5.1% fat loss whereas no effective changes were found in the 14 participants who maintained a normal mixed diet. 

The down side of this study..

This test did not provide people with daily calories, they did not provide meal plans; the main drive of fat loss is a caloric deficit. Therefore, if their calories were not counted they could have been in a caloric deficit in order to lose body fat. When you remove one of the major macronutrients (carbs) from your diet you reduce your calories by default. The military personnel also showed great adherence and maintained ketosis state for the full 12 weeks, the question here is ‘would you be able to do this?’ This diet will only work if you’re able to adhere to it. Diet becomes lifestyle. 

So, can the keto diet help me lose weight?

In another uncontrolled intervention conducted in 2017, 35 sedentary obese adults underwent 12 week of keto diet at the University of Primorska.  After 2 weeks, the results showed that people had decreased appetite, significant weight loss, decreased emotional and external eating, and increased body image satisfaction. However, everything returned to baseline after a few weeks.

In other words and in more detail, the reports demonstrated the following: 

  • Reduction to insulin, which is a hormone that reduces blood sugar by pushing it from blood into body tissues like muscles. 
  • Reduction to leptin levels which is a hormone that is produced by your body’s fat cells to increase appetite
  • Increase in adiponectin which is a hormone that regulates blood sugar and supports fat oxidation (breathing out of our body fat cells) 
  • Increase to neuropeptide which are signaling molecules that influence the activity of our brain 

So what does all this mean?

Well it takes 2-3 days for your body to enter into the stage of ketosis and then your body can take some time to adapt. So all the first effects were identified in the first 2 weeks, these benefits could have been due to the ketogenic adaptation, so how your body is changing from using glucose to ketones as energy. However, after two weeks these benefits returned to baseline. So appetite returned, emotional eating etc, all your hormones were back to regular levels. Bad cholesterol increased as well as adiponectin. 

This study was done over 12 weeks and again, uncontrolled environment where calories were not counted. Baring in mind that when you eliminate one of the macros you normally reduce the calories you consume by default hence why it can reduce your body fat.  

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Another keto case study..

Whereas another study conducted in Arizona 2007 had participants on a ketogenic diet at a caloric deficit vs people of a mixed diet also on a caloric deficit. The results showed NO significant difference in fat loss, very small difference not even worth mentioning.

What does this mean?

This was the only CONTROLLED study which means that both groups on a ketogenic diet and on an ordinary mixed diet had their calories counted and meals prepared. This allows for an accurate picture to be drawn up. The previous studies were not controlled and the ketogenic groups would have been in a much bigger caloric deficit since they have removed a whole macronutrient from their diet compared to the group who consumed a mixed diet.

Conclusion

Well from the scientific studies you can see that the uncontrolled studies have shown great results but in a controlled study the results showed no major difference in weight loss between keto group and a mixed diet group. So, what can you take from this? Calories in vs calories out drive weight loss. However, if your goal is that you’d like to improve your overall health then there is plenty research that shows medical benefits of the keto diet. You can view these here.

References

Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 305 Annie and John Glenn Avenue, Columbus, OH. Waterford Institute of Technology, Cork Road, Ireland.Department of Radiology and the Department of Internal Medicine – Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, The Ohio State University 410 W 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH (2019) Extended Ketogenic Diet and Physical Training Intervention in Military Personnel. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30877806  Accessed on 03/07/2019. 

Epilepsy,S.(2019).ketogenic diet. [online] Epilepsy Society. Available at: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/ketogenic-diet#.XOp7vS2ZNQJ [Accessed 26 May 2019]. 

Fung, J. (2019). The Paradox of Cancer’s Warburg Effect. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@drjasonfung/the-paradox-of-can–rs-warburg-effect-7fb572364b81 [Accessed 26 May 2019] 

Mohokoro, N. Cernelic-Bizjak,M. Poklar-Vatovec,T. Grom,G.Kenig,S. Petelin,A. Jenko-Praznikar,Z. (2019) Weight loss, improved physical performance, cognitive function, eating behavior, and metabolic profile in a 12-week ketogenic diet in obese adults.; Volume 62, P64-77. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718304627?via%3Dihub Last Accessed 03/07/2019. 

Norton, L. (2019). Ketogenic Diets: What the Science Says. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHXP04ipDx8 [Accessed 26 May 2019]. 

Norton, L. and Baker, P. (2019). Fat loss forever. 1st ed 

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