BACKGROUND: Weight loss is a milestone in the prevention of chronic diseases associated with high morbility and mortality in industrialized countries. Very-low calorie ketogenic diets (VLCKDs) are increasingly used in clinical practice for weight loss and management of obesity-related comorbidities. Despite evidence on the clinical benefits of VLCKDs is rapidly emerging, some concern still exists about their potential risks and their use in the long-term, due to paucity of clinical studies. Notably, there is an important lack of guidelines on this topic, and the use and implementation of VLCKDs occurs vastly in the absence of clear evidence-based indications.
PURPOSE: We describe here the biochemistry, benefits and risks of VLCKDs, and provide recommendations on the correct use of this therapeutic approach for weight loss and management of metabolic diseases at different stages of life.