KD metabolism in weight loss

Ketogenic diet for weight loss is making headlines these days. There is a sudden, rising interest in the role of Ketogenic diet in weight loss. It’s the most controversial topic / debating point in the newspaper. Some says its best for weight loss and a few say a big ‘NO’.

Confusing? So here is the scientific data.

All our past posts have been supported by authentic scientific research articles. So today we are going to explain the science behind the Ketogenic diet metabolism in weight loss. In simple terms how KD works in weight loss.

There is strong supportive evidence that the use of ketogenic diets in weight-loss therapy is effective. However, there are contrasting theories regarding the mechanisms. Some researchers suggest that weight loss results simply from reduced caloric intake and appetite and some that they promote a distinct metabolic advantage. (A Paoli et al, 2013)

There following are studies which researched the mechanisms by which the KDs cause weight loss:-

Factors causing wt loss due to KD Supporting studies
Reduction in appetite due to higher satiety effect of proteins Westerterp-Plantenga MS et al (2009);

Veldhorst M et al (2008)

Reduction in lipogenesis and increased lipolysis Veldhorst MA et al (2009) ;

Cahill Jr GF (2006)

Reduction in the resting respiratory quotient and, therefore, greater metabolic efficiency in consuming fats Paoli A et al (2012);Paoli A et al (2010);
Increased metabolic costs of gluconeogenesis and the thermic effect of proteins Feinman RD et al (2007);Fine EJ et al (2004);
Effects on appetite control hormones and a possible direct appetite-suppressant action of the ketones bodies. Sumithran P et al (2013);

Johnstone AM et al (2008)

All the above factors are self-explanatory except for the last one, we need to know more in details which are these appetite control hormones and how they are linked with ketone bodies.

The Ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat and normal protein diet. Due to low carbohydrate intake the body starts using fat as energy source in the form of ketone bodies. This causes a drop in blood glucose and consequent lipolysis.

Also, there is a possible appetite-suppressant action of ketosis as mentioned above. The mechanism for this is not established but evidence supports direct action of KBs together with modifications in levels of hormones which influence appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin.

How do Leptin and Ghrelin work?

Before eating, Ghrelin increases leading to hunger signal in Brain. After eating, once your fat cells are full, the leptin  increases and ultimately your brain asks you to stop eating.

Ketogenic diets are commonly considered to be a useful tool for weight control and many studies suggest that they could be more efficient than low-fat diets, although there is not concordance in the literature about their absolute effectiveness and even some doubts raised about safety. (A Paoli et al, 2013). In experienced and trained hands the KD is safe and we have over 20 years experience that with proper medical supervision no untoward effects are seen.

So the Ketogenic diets should be administered under the expert supervision of a trained team of a  keto dietician and physician.


  1. A Paoli et al. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013) 67, 789–796
  2. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tome D, Soenen S, Westerterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr 2009; 29:21–41.
  3. Veldhorst M, Smeets A, Soenen S, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Hursel R, Diepvens K et al. Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiol Behav 2008; 94: 300–307.
  4. Veldhorst MA, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Westerterp KR. Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 90: 519–526.
  5. Cahill Jr GF. Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annu Rev Nutr 2006; 26: 1–22.
  6. Paoli A, Grimaldi K, Bianco A, Lodi A, Cenci L, Parmagnani A. Medium term effects of a ketogenic diet and a mediterranean diet on resting energy expenditure and respiratory ratio. BMC Proceedings 2012 ; 6(Suppl 3): P37.
  7. Paoli A, Cenci L, Fancelli M, Parmagnani A, Fratter A, Cucchi A et al. Ketogenic diet and phytoextracts comparison of the efficacy of mediterranean, zone and tisanoreica diet on some health risk factors. Agro Food Ind Hi-Tech 2010; 21: 24.
  8. Feinman RD, Fine EJ. Nonequilibrium thermodynamics and energy efficiency in weight loss diets. Theor Biol Med Model 2007; 4: 27.
  9. Fine EJ, Feinman RD. Thermodynamics of weight loss diets. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2004; 1: 15.
  10. Sumithran P, Prendergast LA, Delbridge E, Purcell K, Shulkes A, Kriketos A et al. Ketosis and appetite-mediating nutrients and hormones after weight loss. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013; e-pub ahead of print 1 May 2013; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.90
  11. Johnstone AM, Horgan GW, Murison SD, Bremner DM, Lobley GE. Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87: 44–55.