In Categories: Science & Research

A common criticism of low carb approaches to nutrition is that there is insufficient research. With my colleagues in the low carb and ketosis community, I’ve helped compile this comprehensive list of low carb research on weight and metabolic risk factors in humans so that you can see the results for yourself. A total of 6,786 people have participated in these 76 studies. 6 have lasted 2 years or more.

More research is needed in this field, and that’s why I’m so excited to be the primary investigator in Virta’s clinical trial.

See the full list here and check out the most recent research below!

2017 low carb studies

A Novel Intervention Including Individualized Nutritional Recommendations Reduces Hemoglobin A1c Level, Medication Use, and Weight in Type 2 Diabetes
McKenzie, JMIR Diabetes
Summary: This study demonstrates an individualized program delivered and supported remotely that incorporates nutritional ketosis can be highly effective in improving glycemic control and weight loss in adults with T2D while significantly decreasing medication use.
Primary outcomes: Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypoglycemic medications
More data in spreadsheet here

Twelve-month outcomes of a randomized trial of a moderate-carbohydrate versus very low-carbohydrate diet in overweight adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus or prediabetes
Saslow, Nutrition & Diabetes
Summary: The results suggest that adults with prediabetes or noninsulin-dependent type 2 diabetes may be able to improve glycemic control with less medication by following an ad libitum very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet compared to a moderate-carbohydrate, calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Additional research should examine both clinical outcomes and adherence beyond 12 months.
Primary outcomes: glycemic control
More data in spreadsheet here

A very low calorie ketogenic diet improves weight loss and quality of life in patients with adjustable gastric banding
Taus, Ann Ital Chir.
Summary: KD can improve the weight loss and quality of life in patients who underwent LAGB and failed at losing more weight allowing a weight loss comparable to that obtained with a further calibration and it is useful to avoid drastic calibrations and their collateral effects.
Primary outcomes: post Gastric banding weight loss
More data in spreadsheet here

Dynamics of intrapericardial and extrapericardial fat tissues during long-term, dietary-induced, moderate weight loss
Tsaban, Am J Clin Nutr
Summary: Moderate but persistent dietary-induced weight loss substantially decreased both IPF and EPF volumes. Reduction of pericardial adipose tissues is independently associated with an improved lipid profile. The Mediterranean diet, rich in unsaturated fats and restricted carbohydrates, is superior to an LF diet in terms of the IPF burden reduction.
Primary outcomes: IPF and EPF changes during weight loss
More data in spreadsheet here

Full list is here, and it will be updated regularly.

16 Comments

  1. Olga,Fernandez.Dietitian R.D. March 27, 2018 at 1:34 am

    To help others.

    Reply

    1. You guys are rock stars. You need to promote morr to get your message out.

      Reply

      1. Virta Health

        Thank you Evan! We appreciate your support!

        Reply

  2. Thank you for compiling this much needed list!

    Reply

  3. I complied quite a long list in the past.

    https://www.awlr.org/carb-restricted-diets.html

    Reply

  4. Thanks for this

    Reply

  5. Thanks for sharing

    Reply

  6. ERIC ROBINSON, DO April 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Sarah, when will your study be complete with regards to the hyper responders (elevated lipid particled) on a LCHF/Ketogenic diet?

    Reply

  7. As a physician/scientist interested in optimizing nutrition for health, i greatly appreciate your emphasis on developing validated data and studies. Many of the low carb advocates seem comfortable basing conclusions on small data subsets. To date there are hundreds of thousands of patients who have been studied in trials for alternative diet approaches but only 7 thousand or so in low carbohydrate trials. These trials seem primarily focused on obeseindividuals or those at risk for type 2 diabetes. Given this large data inequity, should the healthy, non overweight, non diabetic person consider switching to a low carb diet to improve health (i.e. reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer risk, etc)? Or should we pursue whole foods, mediterranean style eating until there is more data? thank you

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thanks for reading! Dr. Phinney wrote a response on this here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/is-ketogenic-diet-healthy/

      Reply

  8. Great list of studies. But please update the spreadsheet with links to the papers.
    Many are available on pubmed.

    Reply

  9. Really appreciate this!

    Reply

  10. 16 august 2018 Lancet publication say <40% of carb intake cause higher mortalaty and etc.:
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30135-X/fulltext

    I say : “assosiation is not causation”.

    And what do you say?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Here’s a response from Dr. Phinney and Dr. Bailey:

      This is an observational epidemiology study that did not actually study the level of low-carbohydrate nutrition that is characteristic of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. The study involved asking people to record what they ate just twice over a few decades, and this method typically misses about a third of what people actually eat. Furthermore, it assumes that associations indicate causality, which has been repeatedly discredited in the recent literature (see https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2698337.

      Given the rapidly emerging science of ketones as beneficial signals for the reduction of oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and inflammation, this publication has no actual relevance to the health implications of the Virta treatment. For a discussion of recent research on the effects of nutritional ketosis on longevity, see our blog post: https://blog.virtahealth.com/is-increased-longevity-a-credible-benefit-of-nutritional-ketosis/

      Reply

      1. “This is an observational epidemiology study that did not actually study the level of low-carbohydrate nutrition that is characteristic of a well-formulated ketogenic diet.”
        It’s interesting that I could change a couple words and have this statement which is just as true:
        This is an observational epidemiology study that did not actually study the level of low-fat nutrition that is characteristic of a well-formulated whole-foods plant-based very low fat vegan diet. Accepting meta-analyses of low carb high fat studies to support that approach is just as meaningless.
        When will both sides talk to each other and about the pros and cons of each approach so that we can get down to really understanding if both or either should be recommended and when and for whom?
        To clear up the confusion for the lay person, you should be comparing whole-food plant based high carb very low fat diet to whole-food high fat very low carb diet not each vs SAD. Is therapeutic long-term fasting e.g., 20-30 days (reasonable length for healing) better than ketogenic diet?

        Reply

        1. Virta Health

          We recommend against fasting for longer than 24 hours. More info here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/science-of-intermittent-fasting/

          Plant-based diets and ketogenic diets are not mutually exclusive. We have a guide for those who want to avoid meat products and still do a low carb eating plan here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/vegan-vegetarian-low-carb-keto/

          Reply

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