Fatty Liver Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid & Meal Plan

Tatiana Zanin
About the author: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
July 2021

For people with fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, it's very important to do some dietary changes, as this is one of the best ways to treat and improve overall symptoms.

Fatty liver is usually the result of years of bad habits, enhanced by other factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and hypertension. This type of diet has the main goal of eliminating fat accumulated in the abdominal area, in order to reduce the progression of fat in the liver.

One of the main recommendations to get rid of the fat stored in the liver is to lose weight, specially if you are overweight, since a reduction of at least 10% of body weight, can increase the enzyme production in the liver, causing some of the stored fat to be eliminated naturally.

Foods you should eat

To make a proper diet for fatty liver you should eat 3 to 5 portions of fruit and vegetables everyday day and increase your consumption of fiber-rich foods, such as wholegrain rice, wholemeal bread, or wholegrain pasta.

Other foods that are allowed include:

  • Eggs;
  • Lean meat, such as turkey, chicken, or fish;
  • Skimmed milk and yogurts;
  • White cheese, such as ricotta, feta or mozzarella.
  • 1 tablespoon of unheated olive oil.

It is also important to reduce overall fat consumption. The only types of fat that can be consumed, although in very small quantities, are polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and omega 3 fats. Some examples of foods with these types of fat include: olive oil; nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds; and fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, or mackerel. 

Foods you should avoid

The foods that you should avoid in order to prevent fat accumulation in the liver are:

  • Foods with saturated fats: yellow cheese, cream cheese, curd cheese, chocolate, cookies, cakes, tinned foods, sauces, butter, coconut, margarine, pizza, or hamburgers;
  • Sugary products, especially processed ones, such as cookies and juices;
  • Fast food, and premade-made meals;
  • Alcoholic drinks.

In some people, fatty liver can also cause abdominal pain. If that's your case, you should avoid eating foods that stimulate gas production, such as beans.

Meal plan example

The following includes an example of a 3-day meal plan, for a fatty liver diet:

MealsDay 1Day 2Day 3
Breakfast2 slices of wholemeal bread + 2 slices of white cheese + 1 cup of fruit juice without sugar 1 skimmed yogurt + ½ cup of wholegrain cereal  + 1 pear2 scrambled eggs (made with olive oil) + 1 slice of white cheese + 1 slice of wholemeal bread + 1 cup of fruit juice 
Morning snack1 fruit2 slices of wholemeal toast + 1 slice of white cheese 1 fruit
Lunch/Dinner90 g of grilled chicken breast + ½ cup of wholegrain rice + 1 cup of lettuce, carrot, and corn salad, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil  + 1 fruit1 plaice fillet with pumpkin puree  + 1 cup of beetroot salad with boiled carrot, seasoned with lemon juice and oregano + 1 fruit1 medium-size corn tortilla  + 90 g turkey breast  + salad of tomato, lettuce, and onion, seasoned with lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil + 1 fruit
Afternoon snack1 pot of sugar-free Jell-O or 1 fruit1 fruit1 skimmed yogurt with ½ cup of wholegrain granola

It's important to remember that this is just an example. You should always consult with a nutritionist to create a meal plan for your own individual needs.

Other dietary recommendations

It's important to ingest a lot of water throughout the day, and you should drink at least 2 liters a day. You can also have teas that clean your liver to eliminate accumulated toxins, such as milk thistle, yarrow, or artichoke. 

If you don't like plain water, try adding lemon drops, as these helps with flavor but also contains vitamin C, which can detox the liver. In addition, you should always have at least three main meals and two snacks throughout the day, to avoid not eating for long periods.

During this type of diet, it's also important that the food be prepared simply, without a lot of condiments or fat, and food should be grilled, steamed, or baked.

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  • SCHEIDT, Lucimar et al. Nutrição da doença hepática gordurosa não alcoólica e síndrome metabólica: uma revisão integrativa . Arquivos de Ciências da Saúde da UNIPAR. Vol.22. 2.ed; 129-138, 2018
  • VIEIRA, A, Karina et al. Tratamento nutricional da doença hepática. Demetra-Alimentação, Nutrição e Saúde. Vol.15. 1-15, 2020
Show more references
  • MARCHESINI, Giulio et al. Diet, weight loss, and liver health in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Pathophysiology, evidence, and practice. Hepatology. Vol.63(6). 2032-43, 2016
  • SOCIEDADE BRASILEIRA DE NUTRIÇÃO PARENTERAL E ENTERAL. Terapia Nutricional nas Doenças Hepáticas Crônicas e Insuficiência Hepática. 2011. Available on: <https://diretrizes.amb.org.br/_BibliotecaAntiga/terapia_nutricional_nas_doencas_hepaticas_cronicas_e_insuficiencia_hepatica.pdf>. Access in 15 Nov 2019
About the author:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal