This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the options. What about eating liver, is it good for weight loss?
The liver is an organ present in many animals, including humans. Even though it is less common these days, certain animal organ meats, like for example chicken liver, can be eaten.
The nutritional values of livers from different animals vary. Even with that in mind generally, eating small amounts of liver can be beneficial for weight loss. The main worry point of liver is that you can get too much of certain vitamins and minerals if you eat too much of it.
That means that it is recommended to limit your daily liver intake to a certain amount. Discover just how much liver you can eat while losing weight in a healthy way.
This article will mainly look at chicken liver but where relevant, differences with liver from other animals will be mentioned.
Micronutrients in liver
The first thing to look at are the micronutrients in liver.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of pan-fried chicken liver provides you with approximately (1):
- Vitamin B12: 352% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin A: 288% of the DV
- Folate: 140% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 136% of the DV
- Selenium: 126% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 83% of the DV
- Iron: 72% of the DV
- Niacin: 70% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 44% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 42% of the DV
- Zinc: 27% of the DV
- Copper: 27% of the DV
- Thiamin: 19% of the DV
- Manganese: 19% of the DV
And a few other micronutrients in smaller amounts. The amount of vitamins and minerals in 100 grams of chicken is astonishing. Liver from other animals will have different vitamin and mineral levels.
If you have trouble eating enough vitamins and minerals, even a small amount of liver can benefit you a lot. On the other hand, these high amounts also make it easier to consume too much of certain vitamins and minerals.
Understanding tolerable upper intake level of vitamins and minerals
When talking about vitamins and minerals many people think that more is always better. However, at a certain level more of certain vitamins and minerals can cause negative health effects.
In simpler words that means that up until the tolerable upper intake level, the dosage of vitamins and minerals is considered to be safe for most individuals.
There is not a UL for every vitamin and mineral. For some, like for example vitamin B12, there currently is not a tolerable upper limit known (4).
When talking about liver this is a very important concept since it is so high in vitamins and minerals. How much liver you can eat a day depends on the tolerable upper intake levels and the rest of your diet.
You can check out the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) (5), the tolerable upper intake levels for vitamins (4), and the tolerable upper intake levels for elements (6) and compare these values to the nutritional values of liver (7) to see how much you can eat.
Protein in liver for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Pan-fried chicken liver contains about 25.8 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, there are about 25.4 grams per 100 grams in salmon (8).
That is a lot of protein per 100 grams compared to many other protein sources.
Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Since muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day this is a big plus for protein and liver for weight loss.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Will eating liver help you lose weight?
To know whether or not you can eat liver while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in liver.
100 grams of pan-fried chicken liver contains around 172 calories per 100 grams. Almost all of these calories come from fat and protein.
This makes chicken liver a great option for low carb diets like the keto diet. Keep in mind that too much protein can also kick you out of ketosis.
The amount of calories in liver is medium to low compared to a lot of animal meats. Most vegetables and fruits are lower in calories.
Even with that in mind chicken liver is a great food option when trying to lose weight. It will help you feel fuller without adding too many calories to your diet. This will help you avoid higher-calorie foods.
The main thing to keep in mind when eating liver for weight loss is that you don’t overdo it with certain vitamins and minerals.
In theory, you can also overdo it with liver in terms of calories, in that case liver could be fattening. In reality, chances are small that liver would be the worst food in your diet.