Prepared Foods of March 28, 2005 enewsletter

According to a study conducted at the University of Connecticut, "In recent years, restriction of carbohydrate intake for weight loss has become widespread. Our research group began studying physiological responses to very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets (VLCKDs) in the late 1990s because we felt there was a significant void in the literature and limited understanding of metabolic responses to VLCKDs.

"This launched us into a line of research examining the physiological effects of VLCKDs. In this paper, we briefly overview nine studies we have published on isoenergetic and hypoenergetic VLCKDs in men and women. These studies have focused on blood lipid responses to VLCKDs, but we have also addressed changes in body weight, body composition, and hormones."

"Compared with low-fat diets," J.S. Volek and colleagues said, "short-term VLCKDs consistently result in improvements in fat loss, fasting and postprandial triacylglycerols, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, the distribution of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol subclasses, and insulin resistance. These are the key metabolic abnormalities of metabolic syndrome, a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States."

"There is substantial variability in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol responses to VLCKD. The factors responsible for this variability are not known," the authors continued, "and studies designed to identify methods to predict blood lipid responses to VLCKD and other dietary approaches represent critical areas for nutrition researchers."

"Further research is warranted to validate the physiological effects of VLCKD over longer periods of time, including studies that modify the quality of macronutrients (i.e., the type of fat and protein) and the interaction with other interventions (e.g., exercise, dietary supplements, drugs)," Volek concluded.

Volek and colleagues published their findings in Obesity Research (“Cardiovascular and Hormonal Aspects of Very-low-carbohydrate Ketogenic Diets.” Obes Res, 2004;12 (Suppl. 2):115S-123S).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting J.S. Volek, University of Connecticut, Department of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, 2095 Hillside Rd., Unit 1110, Storrs, Conn. 06269.