The Impact of a Short-Term Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet on Biomarkers of Intestinal Epithelial Integrity and Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Alannah K A McKay, Alice M Wallett, Andrew J McKune, Julien D Périard, Philo Saunders, Jamie Whitfield, Nicolin Tee, Ida A Heikura, Megan L R Ross, Avish P Sharma, Ricardo J S Costa, Louise M Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Endurance exercise can disturb intestinal epithelial integrity, leading to increased systemic indicators of cell injury, hyperpermeability, and pathogenic translocation. However, the interaction between exercise, diet, and gastrointestinal disturbance still warrants exploration. This study examined whether a 6-day dietary intervention influenced perturbations to intestinal epithelial disruption in response to a 25-km race walk. Twenty-eight male race walkers adhered to a high carbohydrate (CHO)/energy diet (65% CHO, energy availability = 40 kcal·kg FFM −1·day −1) for 6 days prior to a Baseline 25-km race walk. Athletes were then split into three subgroups: high CHO/energy diet (n = 10); low-CHO, high-fat diet (LCHF: n = 8; <50 g/day CHO, energy availability = 40 kcal·kg FFM −1·day −1); and low energy availability (n = 10; 65% CHO, energy availability = 15 kcal·kg FFM −1·day −1) for a further 6-day dietary intervention period prior to a second 25-km race walk (Adaptation). During both trials, venous blood was collected pre-, post-, and 1 hr postexercise and analyzed for markers of intestinal epithelial disruption. Intestinal fatty acid-binding protein concentration was significantly higher (twofold increase) in response to exercise during Adaptation compared to Baseline in the LCHF group (p = .001). Similar findings were observed for soluble CD14 (p < .001) and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (p = .003), where postexercise concentrations were higher (53% and 36%, respectively) during Adaptation than Baseline in LCHF. No differences in high CHO/energy diet or low energy availability were apparent for any blood markers assessed (p > .05). A short-term LCHF diet increased intestinal epithelial cell injury in response to a 25-km race walk. No effect of low energy availability on gastrointestinal injury or symptoms was observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Volume33
Issue number6
Early online date11 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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