Fatty Liver Diet – Combating Non-Alcohol Related Fatty Liver Disease
In 2012 fatty liver disease almost took my life. I was one of the strongest over-40 men in the world. At 346 pounds, I was also extremely unhealthy.
One week away from the most important powerlifting meet of my life – one in which I was hoping to hit a raw 1,950 total – my body seized up. After finishing a large meal at Pizza Hut, I walked to the counter to pay my bill.
And then it happened.
As I tried to move, every muscle from head to toe cramped. When I raised my arm, my pecs and forearms were crippled by brutal charlie horses. If I tried to take a step, my abs, calves and quads locked up.
The cramping was unbearable and incessant. It took me nearly 10 minutes to get to the car. I was in incredible pain. Fatty liver disease was the cause.
My liver was so fatty that it couldn’t properly process minerals. Because of this, every muscle in my body was cramping. The heart is a muscle. It was only a matter of time before it cramped as well.
Death from a heart attack was a strong possibility if I didn’t turn my life around.
Article author Steve Shaw, before and after fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.
What is Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty liver disease involves the accumulation of fat within the human liver. If the overall weight of your liver is comprised of at least 5 to 10% fat, it is considered fatty.
Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is now the most common form of chronic liver disease worldwide.  The growth of this liver condition will continue to place an extra burden on the health care system in the United States.
As fatty liver disease worsens, it can progress into liver failure, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. With that said, the liver possesses an amazing ability to heal itself. If caught early, a proper eating and weight loss plan, combined with a smart focus on liver care, can dramatically improve the health of this vital organ.
Fatty liver, or steatosis, can be caused by:
- Heavy drinking and alcoholism
- Excessive fat gain and obesity
- Hyperlipidemia, which is having a high level of fat in the blood stream
- Unusually fast weight loss
- Medications and drugs such as steroids, aspirin, and tetracycline
- Insulin resistance
- High blood sugar, including related conditions such as hyperglycemia, and prediabetes
- Hepatitis C, which can contribute to liver inflammation
- Excessive amount of iron in the body
- Inherited liver disease
Symptoms of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease include:
- Loss of appetite
- Enlargement of the liver
- Upper right abdominal pain
- Excessive muscle cramps
- Swelling in the abdominal area
- Redness in the palms
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Accumulation of breast fat in men
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Enlargement of the spleen
While fatty liver disease is most likely seen in the obese, or those with type-2 diabetes, the following factors may also increase your risk:
- Consistent, heavy drinking
- Overuse of medications such as acetaminophen
- Metabolic syndrome
- High cholesterol
- High triglyceride levels
Fatty Liver Diet – Eating Your Liver Back to Health
How that we know the symptoms and dangers of this condition, let’s create a fatty liver diet that will help you lose weight and improve your overall liver health.
I am basing this diet off of my own personal experiences combating this condition, and combining this with my research on fatty liver disease. Please understand that this is not the only way to approach a fatty liver diet; it is merely an approach that worked efficiently and effectively for me.
I lost 110 pounds using this eating lifestyle. All symptoms of my fatty liver disease, including excessive muscle cramping, were gone within the first month.
Before we dive into the details, it is important to understand that the primary cause of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease is obesity and type-2 diabetes. These conditions usually go hand in hand. Therefore, we will assume there is a strong likelihood that you are at least moderately obese, and perhaps prediabetic, or battling full-blown type 2 diabetes.
For those of you that aren’t overweight, understand that cleaning up your diet can only help. Your goal may not to be to lose weight, but switching to 90% clean food choices is never a bad thing… Especially if your liver isn’t in good health.
If this is you, focus on eating mostly clean whole foods at calorie maintenance level. If you’re unsure what your daily calorie requirements are, follow this link:
Your goals on this fatty liver diet are threefold:
- To improve liver health and reduce the amount of fat in the liver.
- To lose weight, and with it internal (visceral fat), working to improve overall health and reduce the risk of fatty liver disease progressing into something worse.
- To improve pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetic conditions.
Basically, we are taking a holistic approach. The goal is to not just take care of your liver, but to also help you improve your weight, health, and reduce the likelihood that fatty liver disease will return in the future.
Fatty Liver Diet Rules
Here are the rules of this fatty liver diet.
- Calories – Eat 300 calories below maintenance level. If you are morbidly obese consider eating at 500 calories below maintenance. The goal here isn’t to starve yourself. The goal is to slowly lose fat, including visceral fat, and the fat carried within and around your organs.
- Protein – You want to eat a high protein diet. This will help you to rely more on clean food sources, less on carbohydrates, and will help to improve diabetic conditions, overall health, and your body composition as you lose weight. You will look more fit and athletic, as well as feeling healthier. Men, try to consume at least 160 to 200 grams of protein per day. Women, aim for 100 to 120 grams per day.
- Carbs – Try to stick to a lower carb diet. For men I recommend 100 grams of carbs per day max. For women, 75 grams max. A lower carb eating lifestyle will help in the fight against diabetes. make sure that when you do eat carbs, the majority of them come from fruits and veggies. Minor amounts of rice, potatoes, and oatmeal are allowed as long as your daily carb intake is kept in check.
- Fats – Don’t shy away from healthy fats. Foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds, minor amounts of cheese and dairy, sour cream, butter, olive oil, etc. will help with satiety (fighting hunger), and are much better for you than consuming processed foods and junk foods.
- Clean Foods – No processed food. No fast food. No junk food. Nothing from a can.
- White Poisons – No white sugar or white flour.
If you are having problems reaching your daily protein intake, consider using a quality whey protein powder such as MTS Whey.
Each scoop contains approximately 25 grams of protein. You can quickly add 25 to 75 grams of protein to your daily diet without adding a lot of extra calories.
If you struggle to intake enough veggies and fruit, supplement with a greens powder. One scoop of Machine Greens, for example, provides multiple servings of bveggies and fruits, and contains only 15 calories. It also functions as a multivitamin.
Please remember that this fatty liver diet is a new lifestyle. It’s not a temporary eating plan. You need to focus on eating healthy for the rest of your life, not just for two to three months.
Other Tips for Liver Health
To help fortify your liver health, I also recommend taking the following steps.
- Avoid large doses of iron. The body has no way or reducing extra amounts of iron. This can lead to serious liver damage.
- Don’t smoke. The toxins in cigarettes may cause damage to your liver.
- Don’t smoke pot. Sorry, but it’s 4:20 no longer. Frequent pot smoking has been shown to cause liver damage.
- Certain herbal remedies are not liver friendly. These include black cohosh, Chinese ginseng, germander, greasewood, false pennyroyal, Kombucha tea, pennyroyal oil, sassafras and more.
- Avoid large doses of vitamin A. The majority of vitamin A is stored in the liver. If you drink too much alcohol, or have a pre-existing liver condition like fatty liver disease, it may be best to lower your overall vitamin intake slightly. Please consult with your physician.
- Get your high blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can also contribute to fatty liver disease.
- Avoid oral steroids and prohormones. These chemicals can be very hepatoxic.
1) “What Should You Be Eating If You Have a Fatty Liver? – Liver Doctor.” Liver Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2016.