Low carbohydrate ketogenic therapy as a metabolic treatment for binge eating and ultraprocessed food addiction : Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity

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OBESITY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Eric C. Westman

Low carbohydrate ketogenic therapy as a metabolic treatment for binge eating and ultraprocessed food addiction

Sethi, Shebania; Sinha, Anikab; Gearhardt, Ashley N.c

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Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity 27(5):p 275-282, October 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000571


Purpose of review 

The aim of this study was to highlight the recent advancements and future directions for potential use of a low carbohydrate ketogenic dietary approach to treat binge eating and ultraprocessed food addiction. Herein, we explore proposed mechanisms of why a diet low in refined carbohydrates, processed sugar and higher fat content may be helpful in alleviating symptoms.

Recent findings 

Emerging evidence suggests there may be a metabolic role in development of maladaptive eating. These findings broaden our understanding of eating psychopathology causes. Ultraprocessed, refined or high glycemic index carbohydrates are a possible trigger mediating neurochemical responses similar to addiction. The carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity supports observations of these foods triggering abnormal blood sugar and insulin spikes subsequently leading to changes in metabolic and neurobiological signaling. This results in overeating symptoms and hunger exacerbation, which differs from observed effects of healthy fat consumption and lack of similar insulin spikes. As supported in recent case series, significantly reducing or abstaining from these addictive-like ultraprocessed foods and highly refined carbohydrates could be considered a treatment approach.


The current review highlights recent and pertinent evidence with respect to theoretical and practical application of low carbohydrate ketogenic therapeutic approaches for ultraprocessed food addiction and binge eating symptoms.


Copyright © 2020 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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