Body fat, body weight and diet

Liver abnormalities are more common in people who are overweight. This is usually defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 25 kg/m2

These include fatty deposits found in the liver and fatty inflammation or fatty liver; this is more common in people who have type 2 diabetes. Fat in the liver can cause it to become enlarged and can lead to raised liver enzymes.

People who are overweight and who have a fatty liver, and who subsequently reduce their weight, are likely to have an improvement in fat-related liver abnormalities. Loosing weight increases the chance of a better response to peginterferon and ribavirin.

If you find it hard to maintain lower weight, ask to see a dietician for specialist advice.


A healthy and balanced diet is important for general good health, but avoiding certain foods with advanced liver disease may be more important.

Foods to avoid include:

  • Fried foods and fatty foods especially saturated and hydrogenated fats.
  • Foods high in iron and iron supplements (unless advised by your doctor).
  • Processed food and fast food.
  • Salt, especially with advanced liver disease. Less than 500 mg/day is recommended for people with ascites.
  • Foods containing additives and pesticides.
  • Protein. Guidelines recommend 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight..
  • Eat less processed sugars and keep sugar levels more constant to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. Switch from white bread and pasta to whole wheat bread and pasta that releases sugar more slowly.

Foods that may help include:

  • Drinking plenty of water to help your liver filter waste and toxins.
  • Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (whole grains, breads, rice, pasta, cereals, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds), low-fat foods, high-fibre foods and an adequate amount of protein.
  • Three cups of coffee a day (with or without caffeine) can delay fibrosis progression and lower the risk of liver cancer.
  • Eating dark chocolate (85% cocoa) every day can be good for your liver and heart.

Last updated: 17 August 2017.