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Association between ketosis and changes in appetite markers with weight loss following a very low-energy diet

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


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  • Catia Martins
  • Siren Nymo
  • Helen Truby
  • Jens F Rehfeld
  • Gary R Hunter
  • Barbara A Gower
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine whether the degree of ketosis, measured as plasma β-hydroxybutyrate (βHB) in fasting, was associated with changes in appetite feelings and plasma concentration of appetite-related hormones after weight loss.

METHODS: A total of 87 individuals with obesity (BMI: 36.5 ± 4.0 kg/m2 ; age: 42.4 ± 9.7 years; 39 males) underwent 8 weeks of a very low-energy diet. Body weight/composition, plasma concentration of βHB, and appetite-related hormones (active ghrelin, active glucagon-like peptide 1 [GLP-1], total peptide YY, cholecystokinin [CCK], and insulin) and subjective appetite feelings were measured at baseline and week 9.

RESULTS: Participants lost 17.7 ± 4.1 kg and were ketotic (βHB: 1.24 ± 0.82 mmol/L in fasting) at week 9. A negative association was found between βHB in fasting at week 9 and changes in basal (r = -0.315, P = 0.003) and postprandial ghrelin concentration (r = -0.286, P = 0.008), and a positive association was found with the change in postprandial GLP-1 (r = 0.244, P = 0.025) and CCK (r = 0.228, P = 0.035). No association was seen between βHB in fasting and changes in peptide YY or subjective feelings of appetite.

CONCLUSIONS: βHB plasma concentration in fasting is associated with lower concentrations of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increased concentrations of the satiety hormones GLP-1 and CCK. Future studies should explore the molecular mechanisms by which βHB modulates the secretion of gut hormones.

Original languageEnglish
JournalObesity (Silver Spring, Md.)
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2331-2338
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ID: 61389606