Ketogenic Diets and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)?

What are the most recent nutrition considerations for polycystic kidney disease (PKD)?



Ketogenic diets and PKD? 

A growing body of evidence indicates that implementing a kidney-safe, ketogenic diet can decrease cyst growth and prolong kidney function.


What considerations are there currently for people with PKD?

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a common genetic disorder that presents with cyst growth on the kidneys leading to kidney function decline. Currently, Tolvaptan is the only drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which has shown to have adverse effects and only aids in slowing disease progression rather than halting or reversing it. Given this, there has been a lot of discussion among individuals with PKD so there is a lot of want and need by kidney patients for alternative, more accessible, and safe options



Ketosis and PKD

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic adaptation that uses fatty acids and synthesizes ketones, specifically acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) as energy sources instead of using glucose for energy. Ketosis can be induced by two methods: a time-restricted eating protocol (perhaps you have heard of intermittent fasting) or a ketogenic diet, both of which have been shown to inhibit cyst growth in research studies.

Did you know…

Dietary interventions for a variety of disease states have been around for thousands of years. Ketogenic diets are accepted clinical treatments for pediatric epilepsy. Now, ketogenic diets are being researched for potential benefits in many other diseases. 

The Weimbs Lab has shown that ketogenic dietary interventions inhibit renal cyst growth and preserve renal function in PKD in animal models [1] which is why further research into these interventions in humans is integral to the future of how polycystic kidney disease (PKD) can be managed.

The Weimbs Lab and the University Hospital of Cologne are working on conducting research in a clinical setting to determine more specific and quantifiable impacts of dietary interventions on PKD patients, including impacts on overall well-being, weight, blood pressure, kidney function, and cyst progression. 

It’s important to note that a kidney-friendly ketogenic diet is different from a typically “ketogenic” diet that most people know.


  1. Torres, J., Kruger, S., Broderick, C., Amarlkhagva, T., Agrawal, S., Dodam, J., Mrug, M., Lyons, L. and Weimbs, T. (2019). Ketosis ameliorates renal cysts growth in polycystic kidney disease. Cell Metabolism, 30(6), 1007-1023. Doi: 10.1060/j.cmet.2019.09.012