Is the Ketogenic Diet Bad for the Liver?

The Ketogenic Diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that has been known 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. But is it really bad for the liver?The answer is no. A Ketogenic Diet does not cause Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

In fact, you may be able to prevent NAFLD with a ketogenic diet, and people with NAFLD may see significant improvements. Of course, it is always best to consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes. In any case, a diet low in carbohydrates and high in exercise at least three times a week can help keep the liver healthy. If you already have a diagnosis of NAFLD and want to know more about how much progress you have made, some gastroenterologists are using a special type of ultrasound called FibroScan. This is less invasive than liver biopsy and can be used to determine if and to what extent fibrosis has occurred.

It can also be used to track the progression or regression of NAFLD over time. The good news is that a low-carb or keto diet can lead to dramatic loss of liver fat and potentially reverse the disease. Insulin resistance is a common, almost silent condition in which the body's cells become less able to respond effectively to the hormone insulin. This causes the pancreas to secrete even more insulin to keep blood sugar stable. Eating “keto” is a popular fad diet, and recently I've noticed that some doctors recommend it. There is increasing evidence, such as from a study conducted by researchers at USC's Keck School of Medicine, indicating that ketogenic diets that severely restrict carbohydrates and replace them primarily with fats appear to be associated with an increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD.

With so much fat to metabolize, diet could worsen any existing liver condition. Kidneys Help Metabolize Proteins, and McManus Says Ketogenic Diet Can Overload Them. The current recommended intake of protein is 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams for men). The good news is that a low-carb or keto diet can lead to dramatic loss of liver fat and potentially reverse the disease. One of the main problems with the ketogenic diet is that it restricts vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. More Research Shows The Ketogenic Diet Can Not Only Help You Lose Weight, It Can Also Help Prevent Fatty Liver Disease And Reverse Fatty Liver Damage.

And in fact, the ketogenic diet is associated with an increase in bad LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease. The ketogenic diet severely restricts all carbs, so it lowers blood sugar levels. That means that high-fat ketogenic diets had a greater and faster impact on liver fat content than just restricting carbohydrates. Ketogenic is just another fad diet, and there is growing evidence that this diet can hurt you in the long run. Additional benefits of the ketogenic diet include a reduction in triglycerides, belly fat, and the risk of metabolic syndrome. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the ketogenic diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. However, there does not appear to be any long-term controlled studies demonstrating that ketogenic diets are associated with permanent weight loss.

Ketogenic diets are complicated to follow and difficult for most people to follow because of the very limited variety of foods. If you're looking to lose a few pounds, you may be tempted to try new popular approaches such as the ketogenic diet or fasting. But before you do so it's important to understand how these diets work and their potential risks so you can make an informed decision about whether they are right for you.

Bruce Chen
Bruce Chen

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