Chronic Disease, Metabolism

Can intermittent fasting help with fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

With preventable chronic disease on the rise. More and more people are turning toward diet and lifestyle changes to take back control of their health. At Nutrition for Life Healthcare we specialise in helping our clients to customise their nutrition changes in order to better manage, reverse or prevent some of the most common of chronic illnesses.

Let us take you through one of the more common chronic diseases we help clients with at Nutrition for Life and how a popular method known as intermittent fasting can help manage this condition toward remission.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) accounts for a large and growing proportion of liver disease burden globally. The burden of NAFLD manifests in increasing levels of advanced liver disease and primary liver cancer in Australia today.


Firstly, what is non alcoholic fatty liver?

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) refers to the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells and is common in Western countries. The excess fat can lead to inflammation that will lead to liver damage over time.

Over consuming energy or calories is generally the cause of non alcoholic fatty liver. More specifically it has been associated with dietary excess of saturated fatty acids, refined carbohydrates and fructose.

Fatty liver is commonly developed in those who have certain other health conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes or high triglycerides in the blood. Fatty liver often produces no symptoms therefore people often get diagnosed after routine medical and liver function tests.

“Over consuming energy or calories is generally the cause of non alcoholic fatty liver”

Symptoms related to this condition include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen

At a more advanced level…

  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Red palms
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

How can you reverse NAFLD?

The most important approaches to reverse NAFLD are around lifestyle modifications with diet and exercise. A body weight reduction of around 10% obtained with energy restriction and increased physical activity has been shown to lead to improvements in liver inflammation in studies.

The main challenge with lifestyle changes is to make them sustainable long term hence why fasting as a therapy has been proposed.

Fasting is defined as voluntary renouncement of food for a defined period of time which results in positive metabolic changes like increased insulin sensitivity, gluconeogenesis, and ketone bodies.

The beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on fatty liver have been very clearly shown in mice experiments and data from observational human trials is promising with more randomised controlled trials underway around the world. The data is showing that intermittent fasting has the ability to enhance the clearance of fat from the liver.

“The most important approaches to reverse NAFLD are around lifestyle modifications with diet and exercise”


How do you know if fasting is working for you?

One simple way to check the impact of a fasting plan is to have a metabolic function test in our Launceston based Clinic. Metabolic testing gives real time data on the body’s fat burning ability whether it be during or following a fasting window. Why guess when you can get measurable data – learn more about this test, here. 

Other testing measures to track improvement include an abdominal CT or ultra-sound but you can see improvements in liver enzyme levels in a blood test too.

How can you get support?

We can help! when it comes to a customised intermittent fasting plan or protocol for fatty liver, contact our qualified team for more information. We will  be able to monitor measurable outcomes to ensure improvements are apparent and that the dietary plan is the right fit for your individual needs.


Thanks for reading – Dietitian Danielle.