The gallbladder is a small organ that helps you break down the fats you eat. If you’ve had yours removed, you might be wondering if you can eat a high-fat, low-carb diet. The quick answer is yes, but there is a right way to go about it.
There are also some supplements that can help you along the way. I’ll discuss how to eat a high-fat diet without a gallbladder in this post.
Can I Eat High-Fat without a Gallbladder? [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The job of the gallbladder.
- Tips on integrating fat into your diet.
- A strategy for long-term success.
The Gallbladder’s Job
The gallbladder is a storage organ that sits just outside of your digestive tract. Its job is to store bile, which is a substance made by the nearby liver.
Bile’s job is to break large fat globs into small fat globules much like a detergent breaks up grease. This action of bile is important because the fats are now small enough to be effectively digested by enzymes and absorbed into your body.
The gallbladder stores bile, but it is not made there. It’s made in your liver. This is why people can live without a gallbladder. If you don’t have one, your body will still make bile.
The gallbladder, however, does give you some digestive benefits. This is mainly because it does more than just store bile, it concentrates it. That concentrated bile is readily available when you eat a high-fat meal.
What Happens with a high-fat meal if there’s no gallbladder?
If you eat a high-fat meal without a gallbladder, you don’t have the advantage of readily available, highly concentrated bile. Instead, your liver must make the bile on demand, so to speak.
This can work out fine as long as you don’t have too much fat coming in at one time. If that happens, your liver cannot keep up, and you may experience a digestive problem like diarrhea.
How to Follow a High-Fat Diet without a Gallbladder
Tip #1: Start with 50% Fat
If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, and you want to start a low-carb/high-fat diet, start with a diet that is relatively low in fat.
For example, get 50% of your daily calories from fat, and see how your body reacts. If you do well at that level of fat, you may find that your tolerance increases as the weeks and months go by, which may also aid you in continued weight loss.
Tip #2: Eat Smaller Meals
Eating smaller, more frequent meals may also help you transition to a high-fat diet because the smaller meals would contain a smaller amount of fat and require less bile.
Tip #3: Use MCT Oil to Boost Fat
If you are looking for ways to boost the fat content of your diet, you may want to consider trying MCT oil.
MCT Oil is an oil made up of medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, as opposed to long-chain fatty acids that make up the bulk of the dietary fats that we consume.
The shorter length of MCTs make them easier to digest, and when you consume them, they go directly from your gut to your liver, which burns them up for immediate energy (1).
However, I will caution you to take it slow when you start using MCT oil because it can cause its own set of digestive issues if you are not used to it. Start with a teaspoon stirred into coffee, tea, or salad dressing and work up from there.
Tip #4: Use Supplements to Help Digestion
There are also some supplements that are worthwhile.
A digestive enzyme with lipase, such as a supplement from Pure Encapsulations can be taken with your meal.
Digestive enzymes are already inside of you. They are the substances that help you break down the foods you eat. Taking a digestive enzyme with your meal is like sending in more troops to tackle the food.
I do have members of my weight loss coaching forum that follow a low-carb/high-fat diet without a gallbladder that state that they benefit from the support of a digestive enzyme with lipase as well as bile salts, and ox bile.
Bottom Line on How to Eat High-Fat without a Gallbladder
The bottom line is that every person is different, so you will want to pay attention to what your body can tolerate and eat accordingly.
The gallbladder stores bile, which is the substance needed to break down fat, but bile is still made in the liver when the gallbladder is removed, so some fat will be tolerated, and you may find that your tolerance increases with time and the use of supplements that support the digestion of fats.
If you’re looking for a plan, my coaching program provides meal plans that vary in their fat content starting with 50% fat and working all of the
Takeuchi, Hiroyuki, et al. “The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 17 (2008).
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated in 1991 with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College.