What A Nutritionist Really Thinks About The Liver King Diet - Exclusive

The Liver King, whose real name is Brian Johnson, is an internet personality who gained fame for promoting a so-called "ancestral lifestyle" (via The Liver King). In addition to participating in grueling outdoor workouts, the Liver King is best known for eating copious amounts of raw meat every day. While Johnson and many of his followers believe he lives the ultimate healthy lifestyle, there has been a lot of controversy around the Liver King diet and how good it really is for someone.

To learn more, Health Digest spoke with Sara Riehm, RD, LD/N, an Orlando Health Registered Dietitian. Riehm explained that while foods like liver, bone marrow, bone broth, and heart can fit into a healthy diet, no one should eat too much of these foods. "Liver should be eaten on rare occasions because it's very high in cholesterol," she said. "Eating any raw animal meats—including bone marrow and heart—can increase your risk for foodborne illness. Bone broth has more protein per serving than regular meat broth but is limited in other nutrients. Try adding vegetables to your homemade broths to increase the vitamins and minerals in it." You can make your own bone broth at home to save money and create a less sodium-heavy product.

The truth about seed oils

Part of the Liver King diet involves cutting out seed oils, including cotton oil and sunflower oil because of the high omega-6 content. Riehm does not believe this is necessary. "Seed oils contain omega-6 fatty acids that our bodies require to stay healthy, but we're unable to produce ourselves," she explained. "It's important to balance omega-6 foods with omega-3 foods to make sure our body receives all the different fatty acids it needs."

To accomplish this, you should increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids foods instead of decreasing your consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. "Both types of fats are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Seed oils can be a good substitute in place of cooking oils that are high in saturated fat like coconut oil, palm oil, or butter," said Riehm. The only type of fat you should truly try to avoid is trans fat, which is mainly found in processed foods and are not necessary for our bodies. It is recommended that you limit trans fats in your diet as much as possible (via Healthline).

How meat-heavy diets impact your health

On his social media accounts, the Liver King eats foods like double cheeseburgers with bacon, tomahawk steaks with butter, bone marrow, guacamole, and pork rinds. When eaten regularly, these foods can cause health issues. "Most of these foods (bacon, steak with butter, liver, etc.) are high in saturated fat which has been shown in numerous studies to increase your risk for heart disease and negatively impact cholesterol levels," said Riehm. "Almost all food is okay to consume in moderation, but because these foods have such a negative impact on our heart health, they should not be consumed often or in large quantities." Some foods that the Liver King eats frequently, like guacamole, can be a good source of healthy fats, but Riehm recommends making guac at home to avoid added salt.

The Liver King diet is similar to a carnivore diet in many ways, which is characterized by eating meat with every meal and limiting carbs as much as possible in your diet (via Cleveland Clinic). While the Liver King diet includes other whole foods and does not specify how much meat to eat every day, there is a strong emphasis on eating muscle and organ meats throughout the day. In addition to increasing your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, a meat-heavy diet is often low in fiber and can cause digestive issues because protein and fat take a long time to digest.

Is the Liver King diet really healthy?

While eating unprocessed foods is a good thing, Riehm doesn't believe it is necessary to follow the kind of diet that the Liver King promotes. "Eating as our ancestors did can be beneficial because these habits can lead us away from ultra-processed foods and towards more fresh foods," she said. "However, research in the nutrition field has blossomed in recent centuries and has been proven to be a reliable way to determine how food affects our health and longevity. Now, we know more about how our nutrition impacts our health and should adjust our diets accordingly."

While diets like the Liver King diet may seem like an enticing way to improve energy levels and lose weight, dieting generally doesn't work as a long-term health solution (via MedicineNet). Any diet that restricts certain foods or food groups is often unsustainable. While it may result in some physical improvements in the short term, a diet isn't truly successful if it does not create life-long healthy habits. Instead of following a specific diet, try eating a well-rounded diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meats, and whole grains. While it's fine to enjoy hamburgers and liver, it's okay to eat chips and bread too.

Sara Riehm, RD, LD/N is a registered dietician for the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement – Horizon West in Winter Garden, Florida.