A KETOGENIC DIET COMBINED WITH EXERCISE ALTERS MITOCHONDRIAL FUNCTION IN HUMAN SKELETAL MUSCLE WHILE IMPROVING METABOLIC HEALTH.
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Sep 28. Epub 2020 Sep 28. PMID: 32985255
Vincent J Miller
Animal data indicate that ketogenic diets are associated with improved mitochondrial function, but human data are lacking. We aimed to characterize skeletal muscle mitochondrial changes in response to a ketogenic diet combined with exercise training in healthy individuals. Twenty-nine physically active adults completed a 12-week supervised exercise program after self-selection into a ketogenic diet (KD, n=15) group or maintenance of their habitual mixed diet (MD, n=14). Measures of metabolic health and muscle biopsies (Vastus lateralis) were obtained before and after the intervention. Mitochondria were isolated from muscle and studied after exposure to carbohydrate (pyruvate), fat (palmitoyl-L-carnitine), and ketone (β-hydroxybutyrate+acetoacetate) substrates. Compared to MD, the KD resulted in increased whole-body resting fat oxidation (p<0.001) and decreased fasting insulin (p=0.019), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR, p=0.022), and visceral fat (p<0.001). The KD altered mitochondrial function as evidenced by increases in mitochondrial respiratory control ratio (19%, p=0.009), ATP production (36%, p=0.028), and ATP/HO(36%, p=0.033) with the fat-based substrate. ATP production with the ketone-based substrate was 4 to 8 times lower than with other substrates, indicating minimal oxidation. The KD resulted in a small decrease in muscle glycogen (14%, p=0.035) and an increase in muscle triglyceride (81%, p=0.006). These results expand our understanding of human adaptation to a ketogenic diet combined with exercise. In conjunction with weight loss, we observed altered skeletal muscle mitochondrial function and efficiency, an effect that may contribute to the therapeutic use of ketogenic diets in various clinical conditions, especially those associated with insulin resistance.