PBC Foundation
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Does any one know if the LighterLife Diet is suitable for someone with PBC?

Please accept my apologies for having already put this question in error as an answer to a previously answered question. Its my first time of visiting this site and I have already messed up.

What I want to know is if the lighterlife diet is suitable to use if you have PBC. I am morbidly obese (BMI 41.2) and have (as others have mentioned) also noticed that my weight has increased since taking URSO (2x3 a day). My liver functions were normal when I visited my consultant in April.

I have had problems with my weight for years and have tried every diet you can think of. I had managed to stabalize my weight for a number of years then I was diagnosed with PBC. I went into a spiral of depression and comfort ate. Then I came to terms with accepting that I had to live the life I had been dealt. I still seem to gain weight even after I got my eating under control again and am eating healthily.

I hate being as I am, in pain and exhausted all the time. I know pain and fatigue can be down to PBC but I also know its from being fat too.

I am desperate!

21 Replies

Hi I dont know what the lighterlife diet is. I use the Low GI diet if I want to loose weight. I would suggest if you have severe weight problems that probably you need the help of a dietician and the medical profession?

Look on the positive side, your bloods are normal with URSO, thats a big +.

Good Luck with the weight.


Thank you Val02 for taking the time to respond to me. Hope you are keeping well.

The LighterLIfe diet is the one advertised by Pauline Quirk on the TV. From what I can gather it involves protein shakes and bars and fast weight loss. Probably not the best way to do it but when your desperate to loose weight and can't see it coming off it can be quite depressing so you'll give anything a go. I was just curious if anyone knew anything about it.

I have seen a dietician who did help at the beginning to get me back under control and eating healthily. But what I find most months I have either stayed the same or put on a couple of pounds. It seems an uphill battle.

I am far more positive thinking now about my PBC than I was a year ago. Knowing that by taking URSO it has helped to make my bloods normal is a massive + for me and I would certainly not stop taking it.

Thanks once again.


Hi there

Ive just googled lighterlife and it give you a list of medical conditions, if you have theses conditions you can not do the diet, it includes kidney/liver disease (severe) so Im unsure if pbc comes under severe (prob depends on how your liver is at present), but its also gives you contact details if you want more information, so may be you could contact your nearest agent.

My sister did the cambridge diet which involved shakes as meal replacements, dont know if you would want to also research this?. If you see a diet you feel may be appropriate for you, you could take the info to your doc and get advice, some of theses diets are good for kick starting you, my sister did the diet to get the initial first few stones of her then continued by healthy eating.

I hope you find something suitable for you and I wish you well :)


Thanks catherine for your advise much appreciated.


hiya, I cant talk about lighter life but i can talk about Cambridge diet which is almost identical It is also a VLCD .

I did this diet a few years ago and lost 4 stone very quickly. Some things I would mention though.

I too was very very overweight.

My consultant had a long chat about weight issues with me. He is one of the few docs it seems who never nags me to lose weight. He told me that being over weight stresses the liver as does sudden weight loss. He told me he would support my weight loss as long as I promised to come off the diet should I begin to deteriorate.

I had my bloods checked weekly!

Thing is when you do a ketogenic diet such as LL or cambridge, you burn fat very quickly and this without doubt stresses the liver A LOT! My Alk Phos and ALT doubled within about 2 week as my lover struggled to cope with the extra work load. When i came off the diet my blood results got better (mine have never been normal even on Urso)

What I would say is this! Ketogenic diets work... but I am almost positive they screw up your metabolism. I read recently that Pauline quirk has put on two stone already and many many people put weight back on quite quickly. (not everyone) I put 2 back on over a year but now struggle to lose or even stablise my weight. I have a really poor appetite and generally graze but over a day, rarely eat 1000 calories and yet I am putting weight ON! This was never the case before I did that diet. Dieticians can only advise on nutrition, I have a diploma in diet and nutrition, there was nothing she could tell me that I didnt already know.

I think if you are considering this diet you must have read up on it and have the FULL support of your doctor! You need to be monitored very closely, but like me you are in a catch 22 position. You need to lose the weight somehow! These very low cal diets were initiall introduced by doctors for use with heart patients to get there weight down very quickly, but these diets were also used almost exclusively in a hospital setting initially.

it's a tough one...... I hope you find a solution that suits you, but what ever decision you make, ensure you do it with your eyes wide open.


I hadn't heard of the Lighterlife diet until I saw your question mumofthree.

Someone explained with a reply so I shall add.....

As far as I know if this diet is one centering around high protein as it looks like it could be, then personally I'm not sure it would be that wise.

I recently read that people with PBC (and I know info varies from diff sources with medics and even charities covering liver conditions (in USA & UK), it's not a wise thing to have a high protein diet.

I know one thing, I always thought I did eat pretty healthily prior to PBC diagnose in 2010 and I've still continued but have more of certain things these days than I did prior. I try to eat just a small amount of fat daily.

Unlike yourself tho' I have found since taking urso and after a few mths of minor side-effects (bloating and heartburn) I've not gained any weight taking them.

I still think it is a case of 'quality rather than quantity' as we get older, PBC or no PBC.

Hope I have added some useful input, would be lovely for you to keep updating.


Thank you very much EAJSWW and Peridot for your responses you've been a great help.

I did not realise the liver is put under more pressure on a high protein diet, so thanks for that input. I think I knew deep down even contemplating doing this sort of drastic diet would not be any good for me. I've tried so many faddy diets over the years before I was diagnosed with PBC I should realise by now how stupid I am for even giving LL brain space. What made me think about the LL diet was because I met an old friend of mine last week who I had not seen for a while. She had been on the diet and had lost so much weight I did not recognise her. She had lost 10 stone since last august!

I too tend to graze throughout the day as advised to do so by a hospital dietician. What I found about the diet they gave me, I was having to eat so much that I felt really bloated and uncomfortable, thats when it was suggested that I should graze to fit it all in. I did loose about half a stone in the 3 month programme I attended. They said that was good, I was not sure, quite disheartening loosing 1/2 lb most weeks. The diet was 2 portions of protein, 5 starch, 5 fruit/veg, 1/2 oz fat and 3/4 pint semi-skimmed milk -1500 cals.

I will have to perserve and try and diet sensibly and accept if some weeks I loose and others I don't, anythings better than potentially doing further damage to my liver. I agree getting older doesn't make it any easier to loose weight, I am 52 but sometimes feel 70 with the pain, exhaustion and everything. Give us a break aye!

Since finding out I have PBC, I seem to question everything I do. I think I left any confidence I had in my decision making in the Dr's office the day I was diagnosed. BUT I am confident that I would not have just gone ahead and gone on the diet without proper medical advise. Sometimes having other peoples opinions just helps you confirm that what you've been thinking all along was correct, so thanks EAJSWW and Peridot for that.

I have only very recently found this section of the PBC foundation web site and am learning something new everyday. Its a godsend. Best wishes to all visitors to this wonderful lifeline.


I used lighter life before having PBC. I put weight on and tried to get back on LL but could only do so if my GP signed a medical form for me. On LL you have NO food only the shakes and bars plus water daily until you reach your desired weight. If you are serious about trying LL contact a consultant and they help you every step of the way. Good luck.


Hello again mumofthree.

You don't say if you are in the UK like I am or USA or another country (not being discriminative here, noticed that majority of us are in UK as well as USA, few mentioning they are in Australia).

I presume you are UK if a previous reply mentions Pauline Quirke on tv for this LL diet.

Do you like soya at all? I am not overly-keen but I discovered a couple yrs ago, alpro soya drink, the small cartons of strawberry flavour shake are the best (even my son who is anti-healthy eating has taken to pinching mine so they must be good!). I noticed they are cholesterol-free and not being dairy mean they are easier to digest plus they are calcium-rich with added vitamins B2 and B12 p.us vit D, something that people with PBC can lack, the latter in particular.

I'm not a believer in the artificial sweeteners at all, if I have anything that is a sweet, has to have the sugar I'm afraid but again, a small quantity isn't going to be that naughty.

I love bananas and find they are versatile and even tho' they are supposed to be more calorific than other fruits like apples, pears for eg., they have magnesium apparently. If I don't feel like a bounty of a lunch I will reach for a bread roll and make a banana 'sandwich' plus we often eat bananas with yogurt or a bit of unsweetened tinned cream as dessert, least we know what's in it then!

On a lighter note, I recently read a great book that was modern and humorous which I found uplifting - before I had children back in the mid to late 1980's I was apparently 2 and half stone overweight but I lost mine not exactly due to dieting - "The Desperate Bride's Diet Club" by Alison Sherlock. I picked this up in my local library (which I have to say if they hired rooms out there I'd rent one!) and it is well worth a read as in my opinion it does add a few angles and also does give some pretty good tips tho' fiction.

Hope not offended anyone, got all our interests at heart (and our livers)....


Hi Peridot

Not offended at all, Yes you guessed right I am in the UK, Wales actually.

I have used soya milk on my cereal for about 2 years or so when normal milk started to upset me. It did take a bit of getting used to. I don't like it in tea or coffee though I use a dash of skimmed or semi skimmed in them. Its most probably because I personally think it has a certain sweetness to it and I never take sugar anyway. I'll have to keep a look out for the strawberry alpro soya drinks and give them a try. Its strange you've just mentioned that people with PBC sometimes lack B12 because my GP mentioned not so long ago that I may be lacking in this when he was querying anaemia.

Bananas are one of the few fruits I do like if I am honest, along with a nice crisp apple. I take one or the other to work with me every day. I am partial to a bit of bread but it doesn't like me! I get really bloated especially with white bread. When I do feel like some I try and stick to wholemeal as it doesn't affect me quite so much.

I have recently tried the mueller rice pots, they are really nice and low in fat. The one with raspberry or it may actually be strawberry in it takes me back to my school days when you were given rice with a spoonful of jam to mix in. Gives you that little sweet fix when your having a bad day.

I'll have to keep a look out for that book too, sounds interesting, could do with a good laugh!


where about in wales are you?



I'm about 15 miles away from Swansea in South Wales. Are you from Wales?

Thanks once again by the way for the advise you gave me the other day it was much appreciated.


Hello mumofthree again.

I mentioned B12 as noticed a few on this site have mentioned it when in reality I've not taken much notice myself. Know it exists in Marmite which I like but don't over-indulge in that due to the salt content. A tiny bit on toast is lovely but I still prefer honey, been buying Manuka and Aldi are at present selling a 10+ cheaper than the other supermarkets. (My favourite honey being Tasmanian that Sainsburys sell.)

For some time now I've had this thing about fruit and veg and the skins on them, you know the pesticides unless organic. I might wash apples and the like but I have taken to either peeling the skin off and then cooking for a short time in a tiny bit of water. Think they are prob easier to digest like this and def not fattening even if you peel a couple. I also have a juicer, cheap one that is good and also a hand blender so I can make either juice or smoothie-type drinks (great using strawberries and raspberries) but again don't over-indulge in juicing or blending as I think tho' no fat (unless a banana as they contain a bit) they are a high sugar content.

I've been cooking with wholemeal flour for many yrs now, prefer the fact you don't have to get out a sieve to use!!

We have been using alternative gluten-free flours as my son (24) had a slight problem last yr put down to over-use of prescribed antibiotics prev 2yrs so was suggested he try gluten-free (well more wheat free) for a while and see how that went as the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with him. Altho you can tell difference using these flour in baking/cooking, to me there is not much difference in the actual eating and apparently easier to digest.

I also buy the ground rice that is sold cheap in packets (Tesco do one) as you can rustle up a pudding or even gluten-free breakfast in no time in a pan using it. Bet that is good with plain soya milk by the way as I use semi-skim milk and add a couple teaspoons of sugar to it.

Hope more tips help.....


Hi Peridot

I don't tend to peel my vegetables at all except that is for the obvious onions etc. I either scrape or just wash them. I've being doing them that way for years after being told once that all the goodness is in the skin/peel. I can understand how some people can find it hard to digest though. It doesn't affect me but I know my mother and father in law have problems.

I too have tried some gluten free products as I thought they were worth a try because of the bloating and also as my mother was having digestive problems too. Have you ever tried gluten free bread? I bought the warburton gluten free, a trusted brand, I always buy their wholemeal bread for the family and I do like a slice of that now and again myself. But honestly the gluten free was disgusting so never again. It was really dry tasting, you couldn't fold a slice as it just crumbled, and it was expensive about £2.50 for a small loaf! I tried morrisons brand of gluten free crackers, they were ok but I probably would not buy them again. My mother does recommend the coconut macaroons and the rocky road. I find them very sweet so not really to my taste but she likes them. Only thing is I don't know how many calories would be in them as I don't eat them myself. I havent tried the ground rice or the flour products in the range, I may give them a go.

Thanks for your tips.


Hello again mumofthree.

Likewise, I also don't peel potatoes myself tho' I would carrots (force of habit). I don't peel anything except give it a wash under water if I am juicing it tho'. (Carrot is lovely with either apple or orange juice.)

Yes I have tried gluten-free bread and it isn't that great!! It is also quite pricey and really out of our grocery budget.

We don't overly-eat bread to be honest as my brother-in-law works for a company who make and service the machinery for bakeries and he once said if I saw what went into bread I'd probably not eat it (he still does)!

Oats are pretty good as are rice cakes. My son was informed it could just be wheat gluten as opposed to glutens in other cereals.

I think the best form of gluten-free has to be rice. Rice Krispies for breakfast if you don't fancy making porridge and ground rice is versatile. These days we tend to eat a lot more dishes and then have rice with it. Some of the dishes like green thai curry that I use chicken and prawns with (Tesco do a lovely jar of the sauce, their own brand), I tend to add a bit of turmeric in with the rice when cooking as I have actually read that turmeric is good for the liver. (Turmeric is also good for tie dyeing white canvas jackets/t shirts but I digress....!)

A lot of the low fat crips that we do not eat a lot of are gluten-free if you check the seasoning and I find Sainsburys be good to yourself sea salt and cracked black pepper ones are just enough with a pretty basic salad (no dressing) for lunch.

I like coconut but beware, it is pretty calorific you know and depending on how the coconut has been produced, high in fat.

I do know tho' that the marshmallows are virtually fat free and I like those!! As a treat that is when I see them.

I think the list is endless regards healthy eating but I think between us we are all going to be able to publish our own book on this subject!


Hi Peridot

You seem to have a great sense of humour. You do make me smile(tumeric thing)! We're strangly on the same waveline! Before I got to the end of your piece I was thinking you could write a book on your tips.

I feel so much better now as I've had a really c**p day.

On the subject of carrots, have you tried them roasted, they are delicious! I scrub them and just spray them with 1 cal oil on a baking tray, can't think of the brand name off hand. Apparently they are lovely done with balsamic vinegar aswell but I havent tried that as I am not keen on vinegar. But if you really want to be naughty and once in a while you can always add honey, my mouth is watering just thinking of them!

I have never tried Green Thai Curry, I think its just the thought of the colour that puts me off, but as you say I have heard its nice. Maybe I just need to be a little more adventurous..

Oh cringe! I wish you hadn't mentioned the bakery machinery, my minds working overtime now!!


Hi, Personally I don't think the lighterlife plan is a good one at all. Who can really go on drinking shakes and eating bars. Have you thought of going to slimming world. Thats a fantastic weightloss programme. You can eat as much of the plan as you want and never feel hungry. I was on it a couple of years ago and lost about 4 and half stone. If you like meat, you can eat loads of meat and veg without weighing them or counting calories, if you prefer pasta and potatoes etc, you can eat as much of these as you like. Its sounds to good to be true, but I think its the best diet for getting all the nutrients you need. Just a thought. you could try a couple of their recipe that are on the slimming world website. Good Luck with what ever you do. But please don't beat yourself up about it, when you have PBC your body doesn't work as it should do and inevitably were going to have problems with weight. I'd love to know why some people lose weight and others gain weight? How about we all start swapping some good healthy recipes?


Hi, wongie - thanks for taking the time to respond, much appreciated. Sorry I did not reply sooner a case of not enough hours in the day.

I was having a bad day and felt a little desperate when I posted my question. I also had a bit of the green eyed monster after seeing an old friend of mine. I had not seen her for a while and did not recognise her - she had been on the LL diet and had lost 10 stone in weight since last August. I have now come to my senses and realise it was stupid even to have considered it. It worked well for her but she does not have the same problems that we do having PBC.

I went to slimming world years ago - could be as much as 20 years actually - I feel really old now!! I struggled with it back then because you had to stick to either the green or red, but from what I have heard you can now switch between the two. Its worth giving it a try so thanks and I will certainly have a look on their website.

I too think it would be a fantastic idea to swap some healthy recipes.

Thanks for your support and best wishes.


I have not heard of the diet you mentioned. According to my primary doctor and information I have obtained from this and other sites regarding nutrition with liver ailments, one should eat a low fat, low salt, higher carb (for long term energy) and less protein. There are minimums that we should have though, one is the percentage of fat should be at least 26% of your day and sodium should be under 2000mg. I am still searching to find out for sure what the percentage of carbs and protein should be. I eat three meals and three snacks, and keep my meals small. I am on a 1200 calorie diet, which says that I will lose about a pound a week. keeping a food journal helps and the app on my nook tablet keeps track of it all for me.

Baked, broiled or boil your food.

stay away from fatty meats and processed food

eat fresh vegetables and fruit.

Keep your meals small, use a smaller plate because a dinner plate will look so empty.

Slow down when you eat.

I eat at least six times a day.

I am not a dietician. This is just what I consider using common sense. I find a recipe I like and make healthy adjustments.

Last night for dinner I browned boneless and skinless chicken breasts that were split then added a large tin of salt free chopped tomatoes, garlic and pepper covered the pan and let it cook on a low flame. I also served boiled red potato( cut up and mixed with sauteed [ non stick pan prayed with oil] onion ). and thickly sliced cooked carrots with honey butter( 1 tablespoon of whipped butter) . my plate consisted of 3-4 oz of chicken smothered with the tomatoes, 1 cup of potatoes and 1/2 cup of carrots. This was delicious and healthy. I find smaller portions and eating something every two hours works for me. Two hours after this meal I had a skinny cow ice cream sandwich. I was up real late, so I also had a cup of popcorn. I watch what I have room for according to my nutritional totals for the day. My advice, get a food scale, keep a food journal and add light exercise. I walk a mile on the treadmill every other day. So far I have lost almost five pounds in four weeks time. My honey had to add salt and more butter to his potatoes, as I do not cook with salt anymore. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we did.


I just wanted to add: I am no spring chicken but who says at 66 I can't look and feel like one. Not me! lol btw I am in the USA


Hi healthangel

Thanks for your input. This LL diet must be one that is only being advertised here in UK, I now know its not a good idea for us, protein shakes and bars..no food!.

I am glad you mentioned what nutrition your primary doctor etc advised for liver ailments. My consultant did not offer any advise but referred me to a dietician who provided a general diet suitable for all who were in the group i.e diabetics etc but that was basically cutting out carbs. The dietician did however advise me to graze so to speak...spread my meals out into several smaller ones which did help. I found I was having to eat far too much food and can't eating large meals any more. Well done on loosing 5lbs. The way you are doing it is the best, small amounts but constant. I became down hearted when I was only loosing 1/2 a pound some months..I have a lot of weight to loose (5 stones) and couldn't see it coming off fast enough.

Your recipe sounds really scrumy. I will definately give it a go.

From your picture you certainly look like a spring chicken to me, so you must be doing something right! I am 52, have choosen for good reason not print a photo of myself..would not like to put you all off your dinners lol!

I live in a small, beautiful, but rather wet part of the UK called Wales.

Thanks again, take care of yourself


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