Body Composition Changes After Very-Low-Calorie Ketogenic Diet in Obesity Evaluated by 3 Standardized Methods

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Abstract

Context:

Common concerns when using low-calorie diets as a treatment for obesity are the reduction in fat-free mass, mostly muscular mass, that occurs together with the fat mass (FM) loss, and determining the best methodologies to evaluate body composition changes.

Objective:

This study aimed to evaluate the very-low-calorie ketogenic (VLCK) diet-induced changes in body composition of obese patients and to compare 3 different methodologies used to evaluate those changes.

Design:

Twenty obese patients followed a VLCK diet for 4 months. Body composition assessment was performed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), multifrequency bioelectrical impedance (MF-BIA), and air displacement plethysmography (ADP) techniques. Muscular strength was also assessed. Measurements were performed at 4 points matched with the ketotic phases (basal, maximum ketosis, ketosis declining, and out of ketosis).

Results:

After 4 months the VLCK diet induced a −20.2 ± 4.5 kg weight loss, at expenses of reductions in fat mass (FM) of −16.5 ± 5.1 kg (DXA), −18.2 ± 5.8 kg (MF-BIA), and −17.7 ± 9.9 kg (ADP). A substantial decrease was also observed in the visceral FM. The mild but marked reduction in fat-free mass occurred at maximum ketosis, primarily as a result of changes in total body water, and was recovered thereafter. No changes in muscle strength were observed. A strong correlation was evidenced between the 3 methods of assessing body composition.

Conclusion:

The VLCK diet-induced weight loss was mainly at the expense of FM and visceral mass; muscle mass and strength were preserved. Of the 3 body composition techniques used, the MF-BIA method seems more convenient in the clinical setting.

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