Keto diet can help alcoholics who want to quit by easing symptoms of booze withdrawal, study finds

  •  In alcoholics, their bodies use less glucose energy and tap into acetate
  • A study finds if the person is on a keto diet, ketone bodies will be used instead 
  • This can help manage withdrawal symptoms in human subjects and rats 
  • Being on a keto diet for just three weeks results in the person also drinking less 

The ketogenic diet, which is high-fat and low-carbohydrate, may not just help with weight lost, but can also ease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal among alcoholics, a new study suggests.

In alcoholics, their bodies use less glucose energy and tap into acetate, which results the types of cravings associated with alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

A team of international scientists note that when a person shifts a keto diet, the liver produces more ketone bodies from fatty acids that could take the place of an energy source – thus letting acetate do its job to break down alcohol.

The findings suggests that individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) adhere to a keto diet could manage symptoms that come with withdrawal and may even lead to reducing consumption altogether.

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When a person is alcohol depend, their bodies use less glucose energy and tap into acetate, which the body makes by metabolizing booze. A team of international scientists note that when a person shifts a keto diet, the liver produces more ketone bodies from fatty acids that could take the place of an energy source

Scientists and medical specialists have long studied ways for reducing the effects of alcohol withdrawal, as a way to help those who are dependent on it.

And the ketogenic diet has become a more popular topic in this field.

This diet includes eating foods that are high in fat, but low in carbohydrates.

The goal is to replace carbohydrates with a fat intake which puts the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

When this occurs, the body burns fat for energy at high rates and uses this extra energy to fuel the brain and immune system.

The findings suggests that individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) adhere to a keto diet could manage symptoms that come with withdrawal and may even lead to reducing consumption altogether – and it may only take a few weeks

‘We hypothesized that a shift in energy substrates during withdrawal may contribute to withdrawal severity and neurotoxicity in AUD and that a ketogenic diet (KD) may mitigate these effects,’ reads the study published in Science Advances.

What is the Keto diet and how does it work?

The Keto diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat plan, and is quite similar to the Atkins diet.

Those on it are required to cut the amount of calories they consume by a significant amount, while eating plenty of fatty foods like fish, meat and eggs.

Some people on the diet also drink ‘bulletproof coffee’ – black coffee with ghee (clarified butter), which helps to stop them from getting hungry during the day.

The diet works by effectively starving the body of carbohydrates – the main source of stored energy.

When this happens, the body burns fat for energy instead. 

It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels – helping to reverse Type 2 diabetes. 

‘We found that inpatients with AUD randomized to receive KD required fewer benzodiazepines during the first week of detoxification, in comparison to those receiving a standard American (SA) diet.’

The new study was a collaboration of American scientists, with a group from Denmark, as first reported on by Medical Xpress.

The hypothesis was first tested in rats, which were made dependent on alcohol and then taught to press a lever for alcohol vapor.

One group was fed the standard American diet and the other was placed on a keto diet.

Following the study, the team found that rats on keto drank less because they were able to manage withdrawal symptoms better than the other group.

And scientists then moved on to human subjects.

Approximately 23 newly hospitalized alcoholics were asked to do a keto diet, while another 23 ate the standard.

Ketone and acetate levels were measured in each volunteer once a week, along with inflammation markers and assessments of medication intake.  

And all of the data suggested that keto diet reduced withdrawal symptoms in the volunteers.  

A separate study was conducted with rats that were made dependent on alcohol and taught to press a lever to receive an alcohol vapor.

One group was, just like the human trials, placed on a keto diet and the other ate regular chow. 

After a few weeks, rats on the keto diet consumed less alcohol than their counterparts. 

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