Background: Ketogenic diets have been utilized for weight loss and improvement in metabolic parameters. The present experiments examined the effects of returning to a chow diet after prolonged ingestion of a ketogenic diet.
Methods: Rats were maintained on chow (CH) or a ketogenic diet (KD) for 8 weeks, after which the KD rats were given access to chow only (KD:CH) for 8 additional weeks. Caloric intake, body weight, and plasma leptin, insulin and ghrelin were measured before and after the dietary switch.
Results: After 8 weeks of consuming a ketogenic diet, KD rats had increased adiposity and plasma leptin levels, and reduced insulin, as compared to CH controls. One week after the diet switch, fat pad weight and leptin levels remained elevated, and were normalized to CH controls within 8 weeks of the dietary switch. Switching from KD to chow induced a transient hypophagia, such that KD:CH rats consumed significantly fewer calories during the first week after the dietary switch, as compared to calories consumed by CH rats. This hypophagia was despite significantly increased plasma ghrelin in KD:CH rats. Finally, KD:CH rats developed hyperphagia over time, and during weeks 6-8 after the diet switch consumed significantly more calories per day than did CH-fed controls and gained more weight than CH-fed controls.
Conclusion: Collectively, these data demonstrate that returning to a carbohydrate-based diet after a period of consuming a ketogenic diet has post-diet effects on caloric intake, body weight gain, and insulin levels.