The KEMEPHY diet may be an effective dietary pattern for athletes

Scientists describe the effects of a Mediterranean ketogenic diet with plant extracts on the composition of the gut microbiota in athletes. The study, conducted by researchers in Italy and Spain, is published in the journal frontiers in nutrition.

Study: Effect of 30 Days of a Mediterranean Ketogenic Diet with Plant Extracts on Athletes

Stady: Effect of a 30-day Mediterranean Ketogenic Diet with Plant Extracts on the Composition of the Athletes’ Gut Microbiome. Image credit: Alesia.Bierliezova / Shutterstock


The human gut microbiota is a collection of trillions of microorganisms that normally live in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The interactions between these microorganisms play an important role in regulating metabolic and immune processes.

The composition and diversity of the gut microbiota can be affected by factors such as age, genetic background, route of birth, breastfeeding, use of antibiotics, diet, and physical activity. Among these factors, diet and physical activity are the primary ones.

Diet plays a vital role in sports nutrition, and helps athletes increase their fitness and performance. In addition, diet can affect athletes’ overall health and performance levels by modulating the gut microbiota. Among the various diet styles, the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, is considered effective in maintaining body composition in athletes.

In the current study, scientists investigated the effects of a keto diet with plant extracts on the gut microbiome composition of semi-professional soccer players.

study design

The study was conducted on 16 semi-professional soccer players undergoing their usual training schedule (8 hours/week). Participants were randomly assigned into two groups, the keto diet group, and the Western diet group.

The dietary interventions were continued for 30 days. Both systems contain the same amount of protein. Furthermore, each participant was given three herbal extracts during the study period. The Western diet given to the participants differed from the Western diet, which was higher in fats and carbohydrates.

DNA extracted from the participants’ derived stool samples was analyzed for the composition of the intestinal microbiota by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing.

dietary intake

Dietary analysis conducted before the intervention showed no difference in dietary nutrient intake between the study groups. In addition, analysis of diet records showed participants’ full adherence to the dietary interventions.

Detailed list of food offered.

Detailed list of food offered.

During the intervention period, a significant difference in dietary nutrient intake was observed between the study groups. While carbohydrate intake was significantly higher in the Western diet group, fat intake was significantly higher in the ketogenic diet group.

Composition of the gut microbiota

Alpha diversity was determined as a measure of the composition of the gut microbiota in both groups before and after 30 days of the interventions. The results revealed no significant difference in alpha diversity between groups at both time points.

Taxonomic effects analysis revealed a significant increase in abundance Actinobacteriota (a group of predominantly Gram-positive bacteria) in the Western diet group and a significant decrease in abundance in the keto diet group.

low abundance Actinobacteriota In the ketogenic group it could be due to a decrease bifidobacteriawhich in turn can be attributed to the relatively lower carbs and fiber in the keto diet group.

Further analysis at the time point following the intervention revealed significantly higher abundances of BifidobacteriumAnd the Butyricococcus, And the acid aureus In the western diet group the abundance was much higher than Clostridia UCG-014, Botrysimonas, Odor, And the galaxy in the keto diet group.

Effect of macronutrient intake

The effect of dietary macronutrient intake on microbial abundance, anthropometric measures, and performance were analyzed in the study. The results showed a positive correlation between carbohydrate intake and respiratory exchange rate.

Participants in the ketogenic group who received lower amounts of carbohydrates showed a higher decrease in the respiratory exchange ratio, indicating a greater dependence on oxidative metabolism. Moreover, a significant inverse association was observed between carbohydrate intake and Odor Abundance.

A significant inverse relationship was observed between fat intake and respiratory exchange ratio, visceral adipose tissue, extracellular water, and Fusicatenibacter Abundance. Low body weight showed a positive association with galaxy torque And the lacnospira abundance and a negative association with Parabacteroid Abundance.

Significance study

The study revealed that a 30-day keto diet with herbal extracts does not alter the overall alpha diversity of the athletes’ gut microbiota. However, diet can significantly influence the composition of the gut microbiota at the phylum and genus levels.

As mentioned by scientists, it increased Germs abundance and reduction packages The abundance in the keto diet group could be attributed to the increased fat mass and reduced visceral adipose tissue in this group.

Overall, the study indicates that the keto diet can be used as an alternative and safe intervention to maintain the composition of the gut microbiota in athletes.

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