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 no unanimous decision on what is good and what is bad. On what you should eat and what you should stay away from.

Some say that this type of food is good, 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 that we have collected.

Among many other things, such a decision has to be made regarding no fat or low fat dairy products vs. full fat dairy in our quest to reverse fatty liver.

This “battle” is one of those cases where experts don’t seem to agree. Let’s see how things stand, though, based on data and my personal experience with the matter.

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 products for fatty liver

Dairy – from regular yogurt to the cheese most of us love so much – has large quantities of fats, much of which comes in form of the unhealthy saturated fats.

Therefore, it makes sense to go for the no fat or low fat dairy to solve the problem, right?

Well, that’s not so simple because some studies decided to make things a lot more complicated for us, claiming that full fat dairy products are actually the better choice instead of low fat ones. And we’re not only talking about keto supporters here!

Reading just the titles of these articles could make you decide to switch back to the “healthier” option, which appears to be full fat dairy. Let’s see some examples below.

We have an article published in the 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 entirely and you will find out that all the data inside them is based on studies that are not aimed at fatty liver/NAFLD patients in the first place – and there are other extremely important things thrown into the mix that we should consider.

For example, the studies have found that more people who eat low fat dairy products are already obese and suffer from cardiovascular diseases when compared to people consuming full fat products.

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 already obese and suffer from other health problems and are eating low fat foods in their quest to reverse their conditions or keep it under control?

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.

Not because of the dairy, but because of all the other bad stuff that I put in me.

Milk for fatty liver

Now, I have eliminated almost entirely full fat products in my diet and I have lost almost 66 pounds in less than two 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 or any diet soda makes you fat, but you actually drink it next to a huge burger with a large portion of French fries, three different dips and an extra of onion rings.

It’s like saying that strawberries are unhealthy and make you fat, but you only eat them with a ton of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and some extra sugar sprinkled on top.

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 articles above 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 reducing cholesterol and insulin resistance).

Also, the fattier options will keep you full for longer periods of time, therefore making it easier for you to eat less (in theory, because they also have more calories than low fat products, so at the end of the day, things might still be the same in terms of total calories consumed).

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 for fatty liver: what to choose?

low fat vs full fat dairy fatty liver

Remember – I am not an expert, but I read a lot and I learned a lot. Plus, I’ve had this fatty liver myself and reversed it – with a major contribution coming from the dietary changes that I made and that I keep advocating in this blog.

You are allowed to agree or disagree with me, for sure – in the end, in this situation, the best choice is that of judging for yourself and making your own decision.

However, if you are curious about mine, here is my conclusion regarding the low fat vs. full fat dairy dilemma when you have a fatty liver:

First of all, I will never go 100% full fat.

I have stopped eating sour cream or whipped cream completely and I won’t start eating that again just because some say it’s healthy. These have a ton of saturated fat, cholesterol and calories and my liver doesn’t need that!

I stopped eating full fat yogurt or milk and whenever I have the chance to eat low fat cheese, I go for that (although that’s not always an option and when it comes to cheese I sometimes eat regular – but very small quantities!) More on that later, though.

Until then, I have to say that I accept the studies the experts have made and decided to stop eating no fat yogurt (the 0% or 0.1% type) and switch to low fat (anything between 1 – 3%).

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 actually prefer white cheese (like feta) and I did continue to eat white cheese, but in moderation.

As I said earlier, I did try to eat low fat types 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 and I managed to reverse my fatty liver completely after one year and a half, so I don’t really think that we should worry that much about full fat dairy being extremely dangerous.

But I have to repeat: moderation is key! When I eat cheese, I eat a maximum of 50 grams per meal (which, you will see, is not a lot!) and I try to eat no more than 150 grams each week.

Cheese and fatty liver

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.

Go low fat most of the time, but mix and match if you feel like eating a full fat yogurt every once in a while.

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 (aka regular) cheese every now and then won’t make your fatty liver worse, just like eating a fat-free yogurt per day won’t miraculously cure you.

But to say that low fat dairy is unhealthy, I think it’s a bit of a stretch. Remember that most of these studies say that it is bad because of the added sugar that low fat products have in order to make them taste better.

That is indeed a big NO: don’t eat anything with added sugar. Plain low fat yogurt is indeed more difficult to find, but don’t use that as an excuse to eat the ones with added sugars or other chemicals: those are indeed worse that the dairy products with more fat.

So, based on everything that we read above, let’s go straight to the point and answer two burning questions, to make it as clear as possible for everyone.

Is low fat yogurt good for fatty liver?

If the low fat yogurt doesn’t have added sugars, flavors or other preservatives, then yes, it is good for fatty liver. You should always look at ways to reduce the amounts of fat you eat, and switching to sugar-free low fat yogurt is beneficial for this.

Is sour cream bad for fatty liver?

It is not recommended to eat sour cream if you have a fatty liver, as it has high fat content – usually 20%. Most of that is saturated fat – 12% per 100grams – and saturated fat is even worse for your body and liver. So do stay away from sour cream if you have a fatty liver.

Hopefully today’s article managed to answer your questions regarding this debate whether it’s better to eat low fat dairy or full fat when dealing with a fatty liver.

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