Science Catch-up. Keto For Fat Loss Debunked?

Keto for fat loss debunked_The Health Sciences Academy

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Keto for fat loss debunked?

2. Sugar focus undermining the fat threat?

3. Eating pasta makes you slimmer?

4. Too much red meat harms your kidneys?

5. Do food allergies run in the family?

6. 8 portions of fruit and vegs to feel happier

7. Meet me at Food Matters Live!


Keto for fat loss debunked?

Study link

Low-carb ketogenic dieting involves a high-fat consumption (80%), some protein (15%) and very little carbs (5%). Many have tried this approach to lose body fat. However, this study using metabolic chambers showed the opposite effect. That fat loss was slowed down during the low-carb ketogenic diet.

Because it was a small study and it didn’t involve a control group, it can’t be taken as the final word. But it certainly defies the low-carb model.

Note: The weight loss mechanisms of low-carb dieting could be in part due to reduced hunger. To understand these hunger-hormone mechanisms, see ‘Do Low-Carb Diets Suppress Appetite?’ here.


Sugar focus undermining the fat threat?

Study link

This study from the University of Glasgow looked at data from 132,479 subjects. The researchers suggested that concentrating health advice on sugar is likely to misinform consumers and downscale the urgent need to also reduce fat calories. Too much sugar is still bad.


Eating pasta makes you slimmer?

Study link

Not so fast! Only when eating it as part of a Mediterranean diet, full of vegetables and some olive oil, pasta has been linked to slimmer waistlines. These were the findings from an Italian study following 7,216 women and 7,186 men.


Too much red meat harms your kidneys?

News link

Researchers from Duke University and the National University of Singapore found that the risk of developing chronic kidney conditions (in those with healthy kidneys) is strongly associated with high red meat consumption.

Too much red mead harms kidneys_The Health Sciences Academy

Substituting 1 serving of red meat with 1 serving of poultry, fish, eggs, soy, or legumes results in significant renal disease risk reduction (Lew et al., 2016)


Do food allergies run in the family?

Study link

This new study involving 1,834 children concluded that the chances of a food allergy in the brother or sister of an affected child are only marginally higher than in the general population.

Note: Learning about food allergies can help save lives. For more, see our course on Food Allergies and Intolerances.


8 portions of fruit and vegs to feel happier

Study link

Challenging current recommendations, increasing fruit and vegs intake to 8-a-day can make people feel happier. This is based on data from 12,385 adults. By the way, did you know that countries like France recommend 10 portions of fruit and vegs a day?

8 portions of fruit and vegs to feel happier_The Health Sciences Academy

Wellbeing and happiness are higher with increased consumption of fruit and vegs (Mujcic and Oswald, 2016)


Meet me at Food Matters Live!

Registration link

I’m chairing the Personalised Nutrition seminar at Food Matters Live in London, UK, one of the largest events for food science and nutrition professionals. Mark in your calendar Thursday 24th November, 10.30 am. If you can make it, I’d love to meet you. Register here for free entry.



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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!

Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

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  • Amanda

    Reply Reply July 28, 2016

    Please can you tell me if Tofu is a wonder food or a poison? There are so many conflicting studies out there. I am vegetarian and so many people say you should limit or avoid tofu, But it cuts out options. Thanks

    • Hi Amanda! There are a couple of alarmist angles floating around tofu, like the GMO fear (some from bad science, see here: and others from cancer-related issues. Our scientists, including Dr Michelle who is a cancer biologist with 15 years of lab experience, cover the soy dilemma in great depth in our upcoming Nutrition for Cancer Prevention and Longevity course here: Overall, soy products like tofu can be either “protective” or “risky” (the opposite) depending on your age, gender, risk factors, genetics, overall diet, etc. Because, in nutrition science, we say that you’re either a responder (beneficial effects) or a non-responder (detrimental effects), or somewhere neutral. That’s why it’s crucial to pivot recommendations around the person, through what we call personalised nutrition. As Alex Ruani, our Research Director, always says: “If it’s not personalised, it’s not effective.” So the more you can learn about personalisation, the less risky things can be ;-)

  • sandy oconnor

    Reply Reply July 28, 2016

    I was diagnosed with diabetes 40 years ago. I also had severe acid reflux and had LYNX surgery in 2014 after taking PPI’s for 20 years. I still had to take Zantac twice a day after the surgery. I have a very low BMI and exercise regularly. I had a diet of protein, small amount of fruit and lots of vegetables. I also had a protein bar everyday that did not have added sugar. I recently read a book about carbohydrate malabsorption. After I cut out fruit and the protein bar not only did my reflux go away, after 6 weeks my A1C dropped to 5.7 and my foot cramps, 5 pounds of water and many other complaints went away! Do you have any studies on this correlation? I am one of your students and have never heard about this. Thanks!

    • Hi Sandy! Have you tried an advanced PubMed search? Here’s the link for topic searches just in case: Because the carbohydrates family is so big (lactose, fructose, starches, fibre, sorbitol, etc.), it’s important to pinpoint which type. In your search, you’ll find that lactose (a type of carb) malabsorption is a well-investigated condition. However, there are fewer studies on fructose or sorbitol malabsorption. But it’s possible to get tested for fructose malabsorption. See here: On your right-hand side, you’ll see “Similar Articles” which can also help with your search :-) I hope this information helps! Maria (THSA team)

      • sandy

        Reply Reply August 13, 2016

        Thanks Maria, Funny thing I was tested at Mayo prior to my surgery for fructose and lactose! Both came back negative. Turns out 30% of the population has this and no one knows about it!

  • Tracey Einarson

    Reply Reply August 12, 2016

    Re: Keto For Fat Loss Debunked?

    It is true that an unbalanced diet can be very unhealthy IF the person is not being monitored medically. Ketosis works for weight loss very well if the proper nutrients and supplements are used. You just have to look at the studies done on the Ideal Protein weight loss method to see the success with ketosis. I have personally seen clients loose over 100 lbs on this program and change their lives.

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