Ketogenic Diet: from the Historical Records to Use in Elite Athletes

  • Matthew B. KasparEmail author
  • Kerstin Austin
  • Martin Huecker
  • Menaka Sarav
Gastroenterology, Critical Care, and Lifestyle Medicine (SA McClave, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Gastroenterology, Critical Care, and Lifestyle Medicine


Purpose of Review

To review the available literature/evidence on low carbohydrate/high fat (LCHF) and low carbohydrate ketogenic (LCKD) diets’ effects on human athletic performance and to provide a brief review of the physiology and history of energy systems of exercise.

Recent Findings

Multiple studies have been conducted in an attempt to answer this question, many within the last 3–5 years. Studies are heterogenous in design, intervention, and outcome measures.


Current available data show that LCHF and LCKD do not significantly enhance or impair performance in endurance or strength activities. However, there is a trend towards improved body composition (greater percent lean body mass) across multiple studies. While this may not translate to enhanced performance in the primarily laboratory conditions in the reviewed studies, there could be a benefit in sports in which an athlete’s strength-to-weight ratio is a significant determinant of outcome.


: Ketogenic diet Low carbohydrate diet Athletic performance Endurance sports Strength sports 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Matthew B. Kaspar, Kerstin Austin, Martin Huecker, and Menaka Sarav declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew B. Kaspar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kerstin Austin
    • 2
  • Martin Huecker
    • 3
  • Menaka Sarav
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionVirginia Commonwealth University Medical CenterRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of Louisville School of MedicineLouisvilleUSA
  4. 4.Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, NorthShore University Health SystemUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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