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Keywords:

  • Appetite;
  • ketogenic diet;
  • low carbohydrate;
  • very-low-energy diet

Summary

Very-low-energy diets (VLEDs) and ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets (KLCDs) are two dietary strategies that have been associated with a suppression of appetite. However, the results of clinical trials investigating the effect of ketogenic diets on appetite are inconsistent. To evaluate quantitatively the effect of ketogenic diets on subjective appetite ratings, we conducted a systematic literature search and meta-analysis of studies that assessed appetite with visual analogue scales before (in energy balance) and during (while in ketosis) adherence to VLED or KLCD. Individuals were less hungry and exhibited greater fullness/satiety while adhering to VLED, and individuals adhering to KLCD were less hungry and had a reduced desire to eat. Although these absolute changes in appetite were small, they occurred within the context of energy restriction, which is known to increase appetite in obese people. Thus, the clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may indeed feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied). Ketosis appears to provide a plausible explanation for this suppression of appetite. Future studies should investigate the minimum level of ketosis required to achieve appetite suppression during ketogenic weight loss diets, as this could enable inclusion of a greater variety of healthy carbohydrate-containing foods into the diet.