Fatty Liver: Low Fat vs. Full Fat Dairy – Which Is the Better Choice?

When dealing with a fatty liver, one of the most important lifestyle changes you have to make is switching to the right diet to reverse the condition and get your life back on track. The problem with diets and foods to avoid vs. foods to eat is that, unfortunately, in most cases, there’s not an unanimous decision. Some say that this type of food is bad, while others put it at the top on their blacklist. This is confusing and we have no other option, in such a scenario, but to use common sense, do our own research and make a decision based on facts and what we feel is right.

Among many other things, such a decision has to be made regarding no fat or low fat dairy products vs. full fat dairy.

Probably one of the first things we learn after being diagnosed with a fatty liver is that fats are bad for our health – with saturated fats being even more dangerous. Dairy – from regular yogurt to the cheese we love so much has large quantities of fats, out of which the saturated fats percentage is really high. Therefore, it makes sense to go for the no fat or low fat dairy to solve the problem.

However, some studies decide to make things a lot more difficult for us, claiming that full fat dairy products are actually the better choice than low fat ones. Reading titles of articles makes you decide to switch back to the healthier, better option, which appears to be full fat dairy. We have an article published on Time Magazine titled “Why Full-Fat Dairy May Be Healthier Than Low-Fat” while nutrition expert Chris Kresser makes it clear that low fat dairy is bad for your health: “Still Think Low-Fat Dairy is the “Healthy Choice”? Think Again!

But don’t read the titles only: read the articles as well and you will find out that all the data inside them is based on studies that are not aimed at fatty liver/NAFLD patients and some of the findings might be related to other factors that the consumption of low fat dairy products. For example, the studies have found that more people who eat low fat dairy products are obese and suffer from cardiovascular diseases than people consuming full fat ones. But the question we have to ask here is: were those people ALWAYS eating low fat dairy products? Or they’re eating them JUST BECAUSE they are obese and suffer from other health problems?

We all know that losing weight is a difficult thing to do. Before I was diagnosed with a fatty liver, I ate a mixture of low fat / full fat dairy products, mostly based on my mood, and I was obese. Now I have eliminated most of the full fat products in my diet and I have lost almost 66 pounds in the past couple of years. Does this mean that low fat or high fat dairy were the cause? Not at all! You can’t blame a single product for the poor choices you make in life.

It’s like saying that Coca Cola Light makes you fat because you only drink that with your large burger with a huge portion of french fries and three different dips… and you’re still gaining weight!

In other words, if you’re only worried about losing weight – switching from low fat to full fat or vice-versa will not help unless you completely change your eating habits, your lifestyle and your mentality: and these three things have to be done if you want to reverse fatty liver.

But we should not only worry about weight loss. The studies quoted by the articles also come with other proof that full fat dairy might be better than the low fat versions: first, it’s some of the fatty acids that are found in larger quantities in full fat dairy that are considered to help overall health (including reduced cholesterol and insulin resistance), plus the fattier options will keep you full for longer periods of time, therefore making it easier for you to eat less. And since we already know that full fat doesn’t really contribute to one person being obese or not… this brings us to the final question:

Low fat dairy or full fat dairy: what to choose?

low fat vs full fat dairy fatty liver

Remember – I am not an expert, but I read a lot and I know a lot of stuff. You are allowed to agree or disagree with me – but I think it’s best to use your own head and make your decision. However, if you are curious about mine, here is my conclusion regarding the low fat vs. full fat dairy when you have a fatty liver:

I will never go 100% full fat. I have stopped eating sour cream or whipped cream at all and I won’t start eating that again just because some say it’s healthy. It has a ton of saturated fat and my fatty liver doesn’t need that. However, I accept the studies the experts have made and decided to stop eating low fat yogurt (the 0.1% fat type) and switch to full fat (a regular 3% fat). I will not, however, switch to yogurts that have 5 or 10 grams of fat – that’s too much, in my opinion.

Finally, when it comes to cheese, that’s my soft spot: I love cheese, like most of us do, and I wasn’t able to stop eating it. I love white cheese (like feta) a lot and I did eat it like I used to before finding out about my fatty liver. I did try to eat low fat brands of cheese and I still do, but I don’t care that much about it anymore: my results, just seven months after being diagnosed with NAFLD were great, so I don’t really think that we should worry that much about full fat dairy being that dangerous.

Since studies show that there are added health benefits of the full fat dairy, I would personally say to go for those and forget the non fat brands. With one essential condition: MODERATION. That’s the secret, in the end: you can eat almost everything if you do it moderately. Two slices of full fat cheese every now and then won’t make your fatty liver worse, while one fat-free yogurt per day won’t miraculously cure you. This is my opinion, at least: moderation and variety is the secret when it comes to eating!

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