Liver Fat and Low Carb

Here’s a thought that is initially quite scary until you figure out what is going on.

Low Carb Diets increase Liver Fat.

There is a mouse study which shows that Low Carb diets increase liver fat (Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Jul; 15(4): 374–380. Low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets, glucose homeostasis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Rebecca C. Schugar).

Mice fed the Ketogenic Diet (KD) for 12 weeks were lean, euglycemic, ketotic, and hypoinsulinemic, but were glucose intolerant, and exhibited NAFLD.

MRS revealed that KD-fed mice accumulate hepatic lipid within 3 weeks after initiation of the diet, and the hepatic gene expression signature for DNL (encoded mediators of SREBP-1c, FAS, ACC1, SCD1) was suppressed compared to livers of chow-fed controls.

In contrast, mice fed the WD ultimately accumulate higher IHTG than KD-fed animals, but do so much more slowly, and as expected due to the high sucrose content, induce mediators of DNL.

So, mice fed the western diet accumulated MORE liver fat over time…

Wait, I thought that’s what you are trying to solve by doing a low carb diet? Yep. Here’s the difference. Here’s a pretty simple explanation (Reddit thread).

Fatty liver in humans is primarily caused by hepatic triglycerides that the liver fails (for whatever reason) to remove from the liver via VLDL or oxidize for fuel. So, if you’re insulin resistant, the liver gets regular and massive influxes of carbohydrate, not to mention an increase in hepatic glucose production that is also characteristic of insulin resistance.

Your body has three options with excess carbohydrates; store as glycogen, burn as fuel, or store as fat. When the carbs are in excess, the first two former options are often impossible, so your body opts to attempt to store carbohydrates as fat. However, if this happens faster than your liver can manage, the triglycerides accumulate. This is just how NAFLD works in humans (Clinical Lipidology, 1st edition, ch. 37, pg 448).


Author: Doug

I'm an Engineer who is also a science geek. I was pre-diabetic in 1996 and became a diabetic in 2003. I decided to figure out how to hack my diabetes and in 2016 found the ketogetic diet which reversed my diabetes.

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