Eating Tips: Overweight - Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease
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Eating Tips: Overweight

for Veterans and the Public

If you are overweight - Hepatitis C for Patients

If the recommended BMI seems too difficult to reach, aim for a slow loss of 10 percent of your current weight. (For example, if your current weight is 200 pounds, try to lose 20 pounds.) Just losing that much weight can help with some of the problems linked to having too much fat.

Risks from being overweight

Overweight people sometimes develop fatty deposits in the liver (called "fatty liver") and have abnormal liver test results. Fatty liver can cause long-term problems in people who have chronic hepatitis C. Being overweight also can make your hepatitis C treatment less effective.

Being too fat also can put you at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

But people who lose weight slowly can reverse these changes. Keeping off extra weight can improve your liver enzymes and fibrosis, even though the hepatitis C virus is still in your body.

Avoid fad diets, because losing weight too fast can put strain on the liver.

Importance of exercise

Exercise is important, and not just because it helps to keep your weight down. Exercise can improve your appetite, relieve some of the side effects of hepatitis C medications if you are taking them, boost your immune system, and improve your sense of well-being.

Try to have 10-minute blocks of exercise throughout the day. Low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming are the best. For example, start with a 10-minute walk. Participate at a comfortable level, take rest breaks, and increase your activity level slowly (15 to 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week).

Remember that patients with cirrhosis can put on "fluid weight." This is different from "fat weight," which is what most of us put on. Fluid weight is managed in a different way. Talk to your health care provider if you have cirrhosis or are retaining fluid in your legs or abdomen.

Remember, if you are overweight, it is important that you begin an exercise routine and start eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Always talk to your doctor before starting a diet and exercise program.