Review points to effectiveness of keto diet, but also cites wide range of evidence quality

Researchers associated with the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine gathered the evidence for the effectiveness of ketogenic diets in a systematic review.  The research was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​.

Shedding fat while keeping muscle the Holy Grail of sports nutrition

The authors noted that maintaining muscle while cutting fat has been a goal of many athletes over the years.  This is especially true in sports that rely on power to weight ratio as a key metric, such as endurance running or cycling, and is of interest in physique and appearance sports such as bodybuilding and ballet.

Recent attention has focused on trying to metabolically shift the body more toward fat utilization with less reliance on carbohydrate stores during exercise as a way to achieve this goal, the authors said.  To test whether this strategy has been working the authors conducted a literature search in mid April 2020 using search terms ‘ketogenic diet’ and ‘ketosis,’ along with some other additional qualifiers.  The researchers specifically limited their search to human studies done on physically active adults.

Authors pore through data from 13 studies

In addition to eschewing animal studies, the authors excluded studies on sedentary populations and those in which the carbohydrate intake for subjects was greater than 50 grams a day.  The authors found 13 studies that met those criteria. Nine of those were parallel design and four were of the crossover variety.  The duration of the studies ranged from 21 to 84 days, with a mean of 61 days.  The researchers were able to extract data for 243 subjects in the 13 studies.

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