It may sound crazy, but it's true! Rich, decadent liver pate, which if you enjoy it, you're probably avoiding because you're worried it will cause you to gain weight, can actually help you lose body fat.
Liver is incredibly rich in vitamin A and is one of the best food sources out there. In fact, vitamin A is difficult to get in high levels from any other food! And don't be fooled by those who say that you can get all the vitamin A you need by eating carrots... Carrots may be a wonderful source of beta-carotene, the plant version of vitamin A, but less than half the population (about 45% of people) have the fast-acting version of the BCMO1 gene that allows them to convert this plant nutrient into the bio-available animal form of vitamin A, called retinol.
So, when's the last time you ate liver? For most people, I'd imagine never! Or, you might have childhood memories of being forced to eat rubbery, overcooked liver. Well, ancient humans routinely ate liver! We evolved the need for nutrients such as vitamin A that are abundantly rich in organ meats. By no longer eating these foods, however, we're missing out on nutrients that the body requires to support the thyroid, our master regulator of metabolism, and to prevent excess fat cell storage.
If you have an underactive thyroid, vitamin A is one of the key nutrients that can get your thyroid working again. Research shows that it improves the conversion of your thyroid hormones to the active T3 form--the super-powered thyroid hormone. (Farhangi et al 2012) It's also your thyroid that converts beta-carotene to the active retinol form of vitamin A, and if you have low thyroid function in the first place, you're converting even less than normal. Another great reason to get your vitamin A in the form of liver! This amazing nutrient has also been shown to induce weight loss and decrease the size of fat cells along with stabilising high blood sugar levels.. (Manolescu et al 2014)
How much liver should you eat to get these fabulous benefits? Two 100g servings per week for an adult will supply your typical full vitamin A requirements. Vitamin A is stored in the body, so it's not something you need to eat every single day. I love to blend liver into a liquid and mix it into meatballs or meat loaf--sneak it in without even noticing. Or try liver pate on Savoury Seed Crackers (avoid the bread!). I'm currently loving this pre-made pate by Pyman. Chicken liver has the mildest flavour, so if you're new to liver, try this first before going with the stronger-flavoured beef or lamb. You can cook liver just like you would any other meat, and many people find that soaking it first in milk removes any strong flavours. The key is to avoid overcooking, which turns the texture into something a bit yuck. It's also important to find an organic, grass-fed source so that you're getting the best quality liver possible (traditionally raised animals are likely to have fatty livers and all sorts of other nasty conditions that you don't want to be eating!). Don't worry about the myth that the liver is full of toxins--it isn't! The liver detoxifies our blood but doesn't actually store toxins (those are stored in our fatty tissues, primarily). However, it is a storage organ for a huge number of key vitamins and minerals, so you'll be getting not only vitamin A but also potent levels of vitamins D, E, K, B12, folate, iron, copper, and more.
If going down the liver route is just a bit too adventurous for you, think about a great-quality retinol supplement. My recommendation is Epigenar's Vitamin A & E drops, 1 drop daily or 7 drops once weekly. (You can get 15% off with code CAH15 at naturaldispensary.co.uk.) Traditionally, cod liver oil has been used to supplement both vitamins A and D. Have a look for a purified or fermented brand if you want to explore this classic approach.
To find out more about your BCMO1 or weight loss genes and learn how to optimise your health, weight loss, or fitness without the trial and error, I'd love to work with you! Check out my programmes or book in a free to chat to discuss how I can help.
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