It’s time for more keto research

Two baked avocado halves with egg on a white saucer. Healthy Breakfast for the keto diet

Dr. David Ludwig, Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, penned an editorial for The Journal of Nutrition highlighting the need for high-quality research on low-carb and keto diets. In his review, he points out that low-fat diets have been the clinical and research focus for the past 50 years, and it has not turned out well. The worldwide epidemics of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome speak to that failure.

The Journal of Nutrition: The ketogenic diet: evidence for optimism but high-quality research needed

Instead, Dr. Ludwig proposes, we need to shift gears and turn our focus to carbohydrate restriction. But just shifting gears isn’t enough. We also need to improve the quality of nutritional research. Prominent journals are littered with studies using low-intensity interventions (such as defining low-carb as 40% of calorie from carbs, or starting out at 20 grams of carbs and changing to 130 grams after a few weeks) or studies lasting just a few weeks. These protocols do not provide meaningful data.

He also points out the need to consider hunger and ad libitum intake of food, as we do not live in metabolic wards. We make our decisions about food multiple times per day. Any successful weight-loss strategy needs to recognize that fact.

Fortunately, low-carb, healthy-fat, ketogenic diets address those concerns, and also benefit diabetes, weight loss and metabolic disease. Plus, he argues, when done correctly, they pose no significant harm to most patients.

In an interview regarding his article, Dr. Ludwig stated:

Some nutrition professions have dismissed the ketogenic diet as a fad, with potentially dangerous side effects. However, this type of very-low-carbohydrate diet was consumed by humans (for example, hunter-gatherer societies living at higher latitudes) much longer than grain-based agrarian diets. While any diet can produce adverse effects if poorly formulated, preliminary evidence suggest that a ketogenic diet may be safer for people with type 2 diabetes than a high-carbohydrate diet, which can cause wild swings in blood glucose. After hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent studying low-fat diets — with mostly negative results — it’s time to invest in high-quality research into the ketogenic diet to determine its long-term potential.

Amen to that. We applaud Dr. Ludwig for his actions and his words. Not only has he published important trials on low-carb and keto diets, but as he shows here, he advocates for even more high-quality research. Hopefully others will listen. At Diet Doctor, we are here to support the progression of keto science however we can.

Are you a doctor or researcher interested in performing high-quality keto studies? Please let us know how we can help you!

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC



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