Therapeutic role of low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in diabetes

Nutrition. 2009 Nov-Dec;25(11-12):1177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2009.04.004.


Introduction: Changes in dietary habits influence the glycemic level. Preliminary studies using the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) were found to be quite promising in controlling diabetes mellitus. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to investigate the therapeutic effects of LCKD in experimental diabetic rats following the administration of streptozotocin (STZ).

Materials and methods: Adult rats were divided into three groups: normal diet, LCKD, and high-carbohydrate diet. Each group was subdivided into normal, sham, and diabetic groups. Diabetes was induced by a single intraperitoneal injection of STZ (55mg/kg). Specific diets were given to each group of animals for a period of 8 wk and then the animals were sacrificed. The rats were monitored daily for food and water intake, whereas body weight, urine output, and blood glucose levels were monitored weekly. The histology of the islets of Langerhans was studied by histochemical methods.

Results: The results showed that LCKD was effective in bringing blood glucose level close to normal (P<0.01). Food and water intake and urine output were increased in all groups except the LCKD group (P<0.01). The body weight was significantly reduced in all diabetic animals except in the LCKD group (P<0.01). Histologic studies showed significant decrease in the islet size and number of beta cells in all the diabetic groups.

Conclusion: This study indicates that LCKD has a significant beneficial effect in ameliorating the diabetic state and helping to stabilize hyperglycemia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted*
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Drinking / drug effects
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Glycosuria / diet therapy
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Streptozocin
  • Urination / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Streptozocin