The ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet is characterized by reducing carbohydrates as much as possible in the daily diet to promote the consumption of proteins and, above all, healthy fats. It has become popular as an alternative to lose weight and is also followed by professional athletes , since it manages to change the metabolism quickly.
This type of diet can contribute to a weight loss of up to 20 kilograms by significantly reducing visceral fat and preserving muscle mass, according to a recent research published in ‘Clinical Nutrition ‘ and led by Ana B. Crujeiras and Felipe F. Casanueva, from CIBEROBN.
What is epigenetics?
Research has shown for the first time the beneficial effects of this type of low calorie diet in reducing obesity . In addition, it involves epigenetic mechanisms, a fundamental aspect for the approach to obesity.
In this sense, epigenetics tries to offer answers to how environmental circumstances influence the modification of gene expression . “DNA methylation is a fundamental epigenetic mechanism in regulating the expression of genes that control crucial cellular functions in the development of numerous diseases and of vital importance in body weight homeostasis,” the team explained in a statement .
Therefore, they have tried to evaluate the effects of a fat loss intervention based on a very low calorie ketogenic diet on DNA methylation levels in people with obesity. The objective, therefore, was to identify ” obesity- related methylome changes that are mediated by induced weight loss or dependent on ketosis in obese subjects on a very low-calorie ketogenic diet.”
What are the effects of this type of diet?
A total of 21 people with obesity participated in the study and followed this type of diet according to a program that included supportive measures for behavioral and lifestyle modification for 6 months. The data obtained were compared with those of 12 volunteers who were not obese.
A person measures the contour of their waist with a tape measure.
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The results revealed that changes in DNA methylation profile after following this diet could be related to the ” beneficial effects of this type of nutritional therapy on body weight and body composition, biochemical and hormonal parameters and quality of life and primarily promoted by the state of induced nutritional ketosis. “
What were the results in obese patients?
Research showed that this type of diet contributed to fat loss and maintaining muscle mass. “In addition, patients who follow this nutritional intervention show a reduction in appetite, improvements in sleep quality, sexual function and, ultimately, in overall quality of life,” says the lead researcher, Ana B. Crujerias .
Epigenetic DNA changes are heritable, but also reversible. This means that an individualized nutritional intervention that analyzes genetic predisposition could increase or reduce the predisposition to develop a disease.
“In a very simple way, we could say that epigenetic modifications are like circulation signals that are added to genes; some will facilitate their acceleration; others, on the other hand, will slow down their functioning . If the signals are wrong, that is when diseases are triggered” adds the expert.
On the one hand, environmental factors and lifestyle can influence gene expression to improve our health. On the other hand, knowing the genetic predisposition to gain weight, to have cholesterol or emotional hunger “the present and the future can be improved with an individualized intervention”.