We examined whether acute and/or chronic skeletal muscle anabolism is impaired with a low-carbohydrate diet formulated to elicit ketosis (LCKD) vs. a mixed macronutrient Western diet (WD). Male Sprague-Dawley rats (9-10 wk of age, 300–325 g) were provided isoenergetic amounts of a LCKD or a WD for 6 wk. In AIM 1, basal serum and gastrocnemius assessments were performed. In AIM 2, rats were resistance exercised for one bout and were euthanized 90–270 min following exercise for gastrocnemius analyses. In AIM 3, rats voluntarily exercised daily with resistance-loaded running wheels, and hind limb muscles were analyzed for hypertrophy markers at the end of the 6-wk protocol. In AIM 1, basal levels of gastrocnemius phosphorylated (p)-rps6, p-4EBP1, and p-AMPKα were similar between diets, although serum insulin (P < 0.01), serum glucose (P < 0.001), and several essential amino acid levels (P < 0.05) were lower in LCKD-fed rats. In AIM 2, LCKD- and WD-fed rats exhibited increased postexercise muscle protein synthesis levels (P < 0.0125), but no diet effect was observed (P = 0.59). In AIM 3, chronically exercise-trained LCKD- and WD-fed rats presented similar increases in relative hind limb muscle masses compared with their sedentary counterparts (12–24%, P < 0.05), but there was no between-diet effects. Importantly, the LCKD induced “mild” nutritional ketosis, as the LCKD-fed rats in AIM 2 exhibited ∼1.5-fold greater serum β-hydroxybutyrate levels relative to WD-fed rats (diet effect P = 0.003). This study demonstrates that the tested LCKD in rodents, while only eliciting mild nutritional ketosis, does not impair the acute or chronic skeletal muscle hypertrophic responses to resistance exercise.
- low-carbohydrate diets
- muscle hypertrophy
- muscle protein synthesis
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