Differential metabolic effects of saturated versus polyunsaturated fats in ketogenic diets
Ketogenic diets (KDs) are used for treatment of refractory epilepsy and metabolic disorders. The classic saturated fatty acid-enriched (SAT) KD has a fat:carbohydrate plus protein ratio of 4:1, in which the predominant fats are saturated. We hypothesized that a polyunsaturated fat-enriched (POLY) KD would induce a similar degree of ketosis with less detrimental effects on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Twenty healthy adults were randomized to two different weight-maintaining KDs for 5 d. Diets were 70% fat, 15% carbohydrate, and 15% protein. The fat contents were 60 or 15% saturated, 15 or 60% polyunsaturated, and 25% monounsaturated for SAT and POLY, respectively. Changes in serum beta-hydroxybutyrate, insulin sensitivity (S(I)), and lipid profiles were measured. Mean circulating beta-hydroxybutyrate levels increased 8.4 mg/dl in the POLY group (P = 0.0004), compared with 3.1 mg/dl in the SAT group (P = 0.07). S(I) increased significantly in the POLY group (P = 0.02), whereas total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol increased significantly in the SAT group (both P = 0.002). These data demonstrate that a short-term POLY KD induces a greater level of ketosis and improves S(I), without adversely affecting total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, compared with a traditional SAT KD. Thus, a POLY KD may be superior to a classical SAT KD for chronic administration.