Though the hunger-reduction phenomenon reported during ketogenic diets is well-known, the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms remain uncertain. Ketosis has been demonstrated to exert an anorexigenic effect via cholecystokinin (CCK) release while reducing orexigenic signals e.g., via ghrelin. However, ketone bodies (KB) seem to be able to increase food intake through AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the release and production of adiponectin. The aim of this review is to provide a summary of our current knowledge of the effects of ketogenic diet (KD) on food control in an effort to unify the apparently contradictory data into a coherent picture.
A reduced availability of dietary carbohydrates leads to an increased liver production of KBs. The liver cannot utilize KBs because it lacks the mitochondrial enzyme succinyl-CoA: 3-ketoacid (oxoacid) CoA transferase (SCOT) necessary for activation of acetoacetate to acetoacetyl CoA. KBs are utilized by tissues, in particularly by brain. KBs enter the citric acid cycle after being converted to acetyl CoA by hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase (HBD), succinyl-CoA: 3–CoA transferase (SCOT), and methylacetoacetyl CoA thiolase (MAT). Modified from Owen (2005), Paoli et al. (2014).
Nutrient-sensitive neurons reacting to glucose but also to fatty acids (FAs) concentrations are present at many sites throughout the brain and may play a key role in the neural control of energy and glucose homoeostasis. Central administration of oleate, for example, inhibits food intake and glucose production in rats. This suggests that daily variations in plasma FA concentrations could be detected by the CNS as a signal that contributes to the regulation of energy balance (Moulle et al., 2014).
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.