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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Feb 1;102(2):488-498. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2385.

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

Author information

Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, and.
Division of Endocrinology, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Ferrol and Coruña University, 15405 Ferrol, Spain.
Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red de Fisiopatologia de la Obesidad y Nutricion (CIBERobn), Instituto Salud Carlos III, 15706 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Family Medicine, Sanitary Area of Ferrol, 15405 Ferrol, Spain.
Intensive Care Division, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago, 15706 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Medical Department PronoKal Group, 08009 Barcelona, Spain; and.



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.


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.


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).


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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