High-fat and very low-carbohydrate based ketogenic diets have gained considerable popularity as a nonpharmacological strategy for obesity, due to their potential to enhance weight loss and improve glucose homeostasis. However, the effectiveness of a ketogenic diet toward metabolic health is equivocal. To better understand the impact of ketogenic diets in obesity, male and female mice were fed a 60% cocoa butter-based high-fat diet for 16-wk to induce obesity, following which mice were transitioned to either an 85% cocoa butter fat-based ketogenic diet, a 10% cocoa butter fat-based low-fat diet, or maintained on a high-fat diet for an additional 8-wk. All experimental diets were matched for sucrose and protein content and contained an identical micronutrient profile, with complex carbohydrates being the primary carbohydrate source in the low-fat diet. The transition to a ketogenic diet was ineffective at promoting significant body fat loss and improving glucose homeostasis in obese male and female mice. Alternatively, obese male and female mice transitioned to a low-fat and high-complex carbohydrate diet exhibited beneficial body composition changes and improved glucose tolerance that may, in part, be attributed to a mild decrease in food intake and a mild increase in energy expenditure. Our findings support the consumption of a diet low in saturated fat and rich in complex carbohydrates as a potential dietary intervention for the treatment of obesity and obesity-induced impairments in glycemia. Furthermore, our results suggest that careful consideration should be taken when considering a ketogenic diet as a nonpharmacological strategy for obesity.NEW & NOTEWORTHY It has been demonstrated that ketogenic diets may be a nutritional strategy for alleviating hyperglycemia and promoting weight loss in obesity. However, there are a number of inconsistencies with many of these studies, especially with regard to the macronutrient and micronutrient compositions of the diets being compared. Our work demonstrates that a ketogenic diet that is both micronutrient-matched and isoproteic with its comparator diets fails to improve glycemia or promote weight loss in obese mice.
Keywords: glucose homeostasis; insulin resistance; insulin sensitivity; ketogenic diet; obesity.