Can Keto Diet Help or Worsen Fatty Liver Disease?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that has been proven to induce weight loss and improved glycemic control. However, it also presents a risk of inducing hyperlipidemia, elevated liver enzymes, and the onset of fatty liver disease. Recent studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can be an effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A study conducted by researchers at USC's Keck School of Medicine found that ketogenic diets that severely restrict carbohydrates and replace them primarily with fats appear to be associated with an increased risk of NAFLD.

Fatty liver disease occurs due to a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. If it is allowed to progress from simple fatty liver, it can sometimes lead to more serious liver disease. A pilot study put five patients on a ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams per day of carbohydrates). At the end of six months, the average weight loss was 28 pounds, but this was not the most surprising finding. Each patient underwent a liver biopsy, and four of the five patients showed reduced liver fat, inflammation, and fibrosis.

This provides preliminary evidence that the ketogenic diet can reverse fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The ketogenic diet for 6 days markedly decreased hepatic fat content and hepatic insulin resistance. These changes were associated with increased net hydrolysis of hepatic triglycerides and decreased endogenous glucose production and concentrations. The partitioning of fatty acids towards ketogenesis increased, which was associated with increased hepatic mitochondrial redox status and decreased hepatic citrate synthase flow. These data demonstrate hitherto undescribed adaptations that underlie the reversion of NAFLD by the ketogenic diet and highlight hepatic mitochondrial fluxes and redox status as potential treatment targets in NAFLD. To be honest, most fat deposits in the liver come from DNL (de novo lipogenesis).

This is the process by which the body produces fats from excess carbohydrates and proteins.

The ketogenic diet has been shown to

reverse insulin resistance and stimulate weight loss in obese people. More research shows that the ketogenic diet can not only help you lose weight, but it can also help prevent fatty liver disease and reverse fatty liver damage. Some recent studies show that keto doesn't worsen or contribute to fat deposits in the liver. That means that high-fat ketogenic diets had a greater and faster impact on liver fat content than just restricting carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets are complicated to follow and difficult for most people to follow because of the very limited variety of foods. While many diets that lead to weight loss may improve fatty liver, evidence suggests that low-carb diets may be more effective than low-fat diets.

If you're looking to lose a few pounds, you might be tempted to try new popular approaches, such as the ketogenic diet or fasting. However, there does not appear to be any long-term controlled studies demonstrating that ketogenic diets are associated with permanent weight loss. One of the main problems with the ketogenic diet is that it restricts vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. This diet maintains a healthy gut microbiome and limits fructose and carbohydrates (the two components of the diet that cause fat to accumulate in the liver), making it the ideal diet for fatty liver.

To ensure you reach your health and weight loss goals, you need to adjust your meals and portions based on your macro ketogenic needs (our ketogenic calculator can help you figure it out). In conclusion, while there is evidence that suggests that a keto diet can help reduce fat deposits in the liver, it is important to remember that this type of diet should only be followed under medical supervision.

Bruce Chen
Bruce Chen

Medical & health reporter. Award-winning internet evangelist. Embraced the low-carb keto diet and lost 9 pounds.