Fatty Liver

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

Is LCHF Diet Good for Fatty Liver?

Fatty liver means the build-up of fat in the liver, which may be alcoholic fatty liver or non-alcoholic fatty liver. For alcoholic fatty liver, the main treatment is stopping alcohol consumption, while non-alcoholic fatty liver treatment involves lifestyle and dietary measures along with medications. Low carb and high-fat diet (LCHF) may help to decrease the amount of fat that builds up in the liver and improve the symptoms associated with fatty liver disease, but it has not a significant positive effect on the liver function tests. Liver enzymes such as ALT, AST, and GGT that are elevated in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, do not show significant improvement with the LCHF diet.

According to some trials and studies based on patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or fatty liver secondary to an underlying medical cause, showed little improvement in liver function tests. However, some studies also showed significant positive results in liver function tests of fatty liver patients. [1]

After deep analysis and observation, many researchers concluded that the effect of the LCHF diet in patients suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease depends upon two factors. These factors are the genetic makeup and gastrointestinal health of patients.

Genetic Makeup affecting LCHF Diet results in Fatty Liver patients:

People having genetic makeup that can adapt easily to the LCHF diet determine significant improvement in the symptoms and enzymes related to fatty liver disease, while those having genetic variations that do not favor the LCHF diet may show less significant results. Some people who did not show significant results started to feel better, and their liver function tests also improved after consumption of the LCHF diet for a longer time. It suggested that some people’s genetic makeup is designed in such a way that they take time for adaptation to the LCHF diet. [2]

Effect of LCHF Diet on Gut Health and Fatty liver:

Gut health and microbiome changes with type and amount of diet or macronutrients, we consume. If you start to consume a high-fat diet with very little carbohydrates, it can change the health of your gut. The amount and type of gut bacteria also change significantly. Consumption of excess fat resulting in changes in the microbiome will ultimately cause inflammation in the body, including the liver.

Inflammatory responses in the liver prevent the breakdown of fat in the liver, so symptoms and liver function tests will not improve in such patients. The major cause of inflammation in the body is increased absorption of lipopolysaccharides from the gut as a result of a high-fat diet. In such conditions, consuming low carbohydrate vegetables with each meal may prevent the worsening of fat levels in the liver. A combination of a LCHF diet and low carbohydrates vegetables makes an ideal diet plan against fatty liver disease.[3]

Other Benefits of LCHF Diet:

Weight Loss

This is, of course, the most important benefit which people look for. Taking the LCHF diet depletes fat as a source of energy. In this way, the total body fat content of the body decreases. Apart from that, blood sugar and insulin levels also drop. This enables fat cells to release water that is retained in them. That is why a person on the keto diet experiences a rapid weight loss at the start. After the expulsion of water from fat cells, they are so small and can easily enter the bloodstream and pass onto the liver to get metabolized.[4]

Better Sleep

Many people on LCHF dieting reports of insomnia and difficulty, while sleeping. But, when the body adapts to a new metabolic state (ketosis) in a week or two, sleep patterns become better. You may find sleep to be longer, deeper, and more relaxed. You may feel more energetic after waking up.

Improvement in Body Composition

LCHF diet can help losing weight, but what about those people who want to lose weight but at the same time want to increase muscle mass. LCHF diet can prove best for those to achieve the goal, as they will be taking much protein than ordinary diets. To get a more precise amount of protein intake per day, anyone can calculate according to his/her body weight and height.

Endocrine functions

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the whole world which is due to obesity, insulin deficiency or insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and increased free fatty acids in the blood. Taking diet low in carbohydrate fractions and high-fat fractions can result in preventing hyperglycemia and also increased fat metabolism results in reduced obesity and high insulin sensitivity (especially in adipose tissue) so ketogenic diet is also good for people with type 2 diabetes.[5]


[1] Schugar, R. C., & Crawford, P. A. (2012). Low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets, glucose homeostasis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care15(4), 374–380. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283547157 

[2] Kabisch, S., Bäther, S., Dambeck, U., Kemper, M., Gerbracht, C., Honsek, C., Sachno, A., & Pfeiffer, A. (2018). Liver Fat Scores Moderately Reflect Interventional Changes in Liver Fat Content by a Low-Fat Diet but Not by a Low-Carb Diet. Nutrients10(2), 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10020157 

[3] Haghighatdoost, F., Salehi-Abargouei, A., Surkan, P. J., & Azadbakht, L. (2016). The effects of low carbohydrate diets on liver function tests in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences21, 53. https://doi.org/10.4103/1735-1995.187269 

[4] Harvey, C., Schofield, G. M., Zinn, C., Thornley, S. J., Crofts, C., & Merien, F. (2019). Low-carbohydrate diets differing in carbohydrate restriction improve cardiometabolic and anthropometric markers in healthy adults: A randomised clinical trial. PeerJ7, e6273. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6273 

[5] Yki-Järvinen H. (2015). Nutritional Modulation of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Insulin Resistance. Nutrients7(11), 9127–9138. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7115454 

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