Professor Heidi de Wet’s study named Editors’ Choice

Professor Heidi de Wet’s study named Editors’ Choice

Our Fellow and Tutor in Pre-clinical Medicine, Heidi de Wet, has had a recent paper from her research group selected as an Editors’ Choice article for the February issue of The Obesity Society’s monthly journal, Obesity.

‘A Ketone Ester Drink Lowers Human Ghrelin and Appetite’ looks at the effects of a ketone-ester dietary supplement, developed by Professor Kieran Clarke of Merton College, on appetite – and therefore may well appeal to those watching their diets post-Christmas!

Fat-derived ketone bodies are utilised as an alternative energy source to glucose and are elevated during fasting or during a high protein ‘ketogenic’ diet. High protein diets, such as the so-called Atkins diet, have been used with great success by some, and anecdotal evidence suggested that people following this type of diet often reported feeling less hungry during calorie restriction – however, the underlying mechanism of this was not well understood.

Professor de Wet’s work demonstrates that the secretion of Ghrelin, the 'hunger' hormone, is suppressed by elevated concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood, which may explain why followers of high protein diets experience less hunger. However, although a high protein diet may be useful to achieve weight loss, these type of diets are bad for our hearts, and sticking to a balanced, fruit and vegetable-rich diet following a period of weight loss remains the only way of keeping lost weight off in the long run.

Professor de Wet explained: “This paper highlights how terrifically flexible our bodies are to adapting to different energy sources and that we may have to employ different strategies when losing weight, compared to keeping the lost weight off. I always have a slight feeling of trepidation when I publish something that the media could potentially distort - as most of us know, most diets are not successful in the long run and there is no 'magic bullet'. Neuroscientists have a saying that 'nerves that fire together, wire together' and this is particularly true for the pathways in our brain which regulate food preferences and eating behaviour, which are often triggered by our environment.  If we would like to keep lost weight off, we have to break old, bad eating habits.”

To read the full paper, featured in the current issue of Obesity, click here.