A low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that has gained popularity in recent years. It is characterized by high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate intake, typically ranging from 5-10% of daily calories. By restricting carbohydrate intake, the body is forced to enter a state of ketosis, in which it burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This shift in metabolism has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and even potential benefits for neurological disorders. While the diet may not be suitable for everyone, it is a promising option for those seeking an effective and sustainable approach to weight loss and overall health improvement.
Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide, and while there are various management options available, a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet may be a promising solution. In a clinical trial, researchers evaluated the effects of a ketogenic diet on reported pain, blood biomarkers, and quality of life in patients with chronic pain
The trial included participants with chronic musculoskeletal pain who were recruited for a 12-week diet intervention. The diet intervention commenced with a 3-week run-in diet removing ultra-processed foods, followed by randomization to either a whole-food/well-formulated ketogenic diet (WFKD) or to continue with the minimally processed whole-food diet (WFD).
The results of the trial showed that both groups experienced improvements in average weekly pain. The WFKD group experienced a reduction in visual analogue scale pain scores by 17.9 ± 5.2 mm (P = .004), while the WFD group experienced a reduction of 11.0 ± 9.0 mm (P = .006). Both groups also reported improved quality of life, with the WFKD group demonstrating an 11.5 ± 2.8% improvement (P = .001) and the WFD group demonstrating an 11.0 ± 3.5% improvement (P = .014).
The WFKD group also showed significant improvements in pain interference, weight, depression, anxiety, and inflammation (hs-CRP). These improvements were not seen in the WFD group. Additionally, significant average pain reduction was maintained at three-month follow-up for both groups (WFKD P = .031, WFD P = .011).
These results suggest that implementing a whole-food diet that restricts ultra-processed foods can be a valid pain management tool. However, the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet may have potentially greater pain reduction, weight loss, and mood improvements. Therefore, a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet may be a promising option for individuals with chronic pain who are seeking an effective and sustainable management solution.
This clinical trial highlights the potential benefits of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet for individuals with chronic pain. By reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and sensitivity within the nervous system, a ketogenic diet may provide relief for individuals suffering from chronic pain. Further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these benefits and to optimize the implementation of the diet for chronic pain management.