To be honest – the promise offered by the protein powders is big! They are readily available (albeit pricey) and the taste profile has never been better. So it is understandable that once you hear “Fatty Liver” your first instinct is to go get a box. However, let’s take a step back and really consider this: Is consuming protein powder recommended for fatty liver? Along with this question, let’s also try to answer these follow-up questions – How much protein powder is safe for you to take? What kind of protein powder is good? How Frequently can you take the protein powder? And finally, what are the things to watch out for?
Hence, In today’s article, I will dive into the question of “Is protein powder recommended for the fatty liver?” and all the ancillary questions that come with that main question.
The questions we need to ask are: Is Protein powder recommended for Fatty liver? How much and how frequently? What kind? and What could go wrong?
Protein is good for Fatty Liver / NAFLD
Yes, protein is good and an important ingredient to help combat Fatty Liver. Studies have shown the benefits of protein for NAFLD:
1. Protein helps with weight loss in Fatty Liver Patients
As you may know, weight loss is one of the first things recommended for patients with Fatty Liver disease. In fact, a 10%-20% weight reduction is one of the most important milestones to reverse NAFLD. A high-protein and low-calorie diet, like a Mediterranean diet, helps with this crucial milestone.
2. Protein Improves Liver Enzymes in Fatty Liver Patients
This study in 2011 showed that Whey protein products helped reduce triglycerides, ALT & AST enzymes, and serum glucose levels. In short, Whey protein helps the body fight NAFLD by helping reduce liver inflammation. Also, protein, through its tissue healing properties, also improves the healing / regenerative properties of the liver.
3. Reduce fat in the liver
Another study published in Clinical Nutrition suggests that supplementation of whey protein reduces fat inside liver cells, thus helping with fatty liver disease. In summary, protein high protein intake may have beneficial effects on Fatty Liver disease patients. Another study in 2020, showed that a high-protein low-calorie diet reduces the liver fat content by 40% more than a low-calorie and low-protein diet.
Protein is helpful, but note that most studies test the natural kind rather than protein powders. Hence, naturally sourced, lean protein is best for NAFLD – but protein powder is processed!
But, What about protein powder and Fatty Liver disease?
So we have established protein is good, but what about protein powder? At first, this seems like an easy answer. However, when we add two factors:
- Protein powder is not natural protein, it is processed
- Protein powder could be filled with sugar and other additives
The answer, for these reasons, becomes complicated. Hence, we have to break the answer into four parts
Is protein powder recommended for Fatty Liver?
The basic answer is “Yes”, however, you must not stop here. There is more you MUST know before you start guzzling that protein powder down.
Are there situations in which you should avoid protein powder
Yes, there are many such situations. If you have active liver and kidney issues, it will be a good idea to consult your doctor before starting with any supplement and that goes for protein powders as well. In this article, I have listed three such situations where you should avoid protein powder:
There are many situations – Gout, Cirrhosis, and Kidney issues etc. where protein powder supplementation may not be a good idea.
If you have an active Gout problem, adding additional protein to your diet could flare up that excruciating joint pain that you are now familiar with. Hence, it is better to avoid protein powder when you have Gout.
Healthy kidneys are expected to adjust and flush out the additional protein and by-product load created by the protein powder. However, if you have kidneys that are not so healthy, then adding protein powder for fatty liver is not recommended.
Similarly, while protein helps in repairing damaged tissue, if you already have cirrhosis, your liver may not be able to handle the levels of ammonia generated inside the body. Cirrhosis would mean meticulous meal planning and that includes protein intake.
What amount of protein powder is recommended for Fatty Liver?
Eat. In. Moderation. This is important to understand. Protein powder is a supplement at best. Adding extra protein to the diet can help the liver regenerate, however, moderation is the key. Protein powder should not be considered some silver bullet. In fact, if you consume more than the required amount, you may end up making your problems worse. In general, you need to consume 0.8g of protein (including all sources) per Kg of body.
Protein powder: Its processed, its a supplement. It is better to eat in moderation.
Ideally, you would check in with your doctor or nutritionist if you really need it.
Additionally, since protein powder is processed you must always be careful about what you are consuming and read the label for ingredients.
What else to be careful about?
Please read the labels very carefully. The nutrition label and also the ingredient labels. Things to watch out for:
- Carbs and Sugars: You know why!
- Artificial Sweeteners: Other than these three sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners may not be good for Fatty Liver / NAFLD.
- Fillers: To increase the bulk (and hence reduce cost) a lot of protein powders add fillers that may not be good for the liver.
- Oils, Food Thickeners, and other additives: Unfortunately, there are a lot of other possible additives that can be added to the protein powders as the ingredients are not really regulated.
When in doubt about an ingredient, please ask an expert [email us at contact @ fixfattyliver.com] or our Fatty Liver Support Community On Facebook.
How To Consume Protein Powder
Protein powder is available in many forms and can be taken in many forms.
- Protein powder capsules: Simplest form and you can just take them with a sip of water.
- Protein powder: Mix with water or milk of your choice.
- Smoothies: My favorite form of consuming protein powder.
- Protein Bars: It’s possible, but make sure to read the nutrition label. You can make your own protein bars which could be healthier.
- Be Creative: You can also add protein powder to oatmeal, pancakes, spreads, chutneys, etc.
Which Protein Powders Are Good
The below information is based on what I have tried and the products I felt helped me reverse my fatty liver. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that protein powder is available in capsule form for a very long time. And once I realized that they became my go-to form of consumption they seemed like a good substitute for the powder. Although, the capsules generally contain way less protein than one scoop of protein powder. Remember, protein powder is a supplement, depending on how much protein you normally consume, you may not really need that much protein as offered by protein powder.
- ALR Industries Humapro | Whole Food capsules
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Double-Rich Chocolate
- Naked Nutrition Pea Protein
- Levels Grass Fed 100% Whey Protein
Please note that some of the above are affiliate links. This means at no cost to you, I may receive a commission.
Verdict: Is Protein Powder Recommended For Fatty Liver Disease
Maybe, but only if you pay special attention to all the factors and confirm with your doctor. Protein powder can really make a difference in your fight against NAFLD, however, the possible negative effects may be too much depending on your own personal situation.