Switching to low-carb diet is the most effective way for people who want to quickly reduce the amount of fat in their liver than cutting the calories, according to a new study.
"What this study tells us is that if your doctor says that you need to reduce the amount of fat in your liver, you can do something within a month," said Jeffrey Browning, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and the study's lead author.
For the study, researchers assigned 18 participants with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to eat either a low-carbohydrate or a low-calorie diet for 14 days.
The participants assigned to the low-carb diet limited their carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams a day - the equivalent of a small banana or a half-cup of egg noodles - for the first seven days. For the final seven days, they switched to frozen meals prepared by UT Southwestern's Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) kitchen that matched their individual food preferences, carbohydrate intake and energy needs.
Those assigned to the low-calorie diet continued their regular diet and kept a food diary for the four days preceding the study. The CTRC kitchen then used these individual records to prepare all meals during the 14-day study. Researchers limited the total number of calories to roughly 1,200 a day for the female participants and 1,500 a day for the males.
After two weeks, researchers used advanced imaging techniques to analyze the amount of liver fat in each individual. They found that the study participants on the low-carb diet lost more liver fat.
Although the study was not designed to determine which diet was more effective for losing weight, both the low-calorie dieters and the low-carbohydrate dieters lost an average of 10 pounds.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.