Is Keto Without a Gallbladder Possible?

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Can I eat keto without a gallbladder?

Of all the questions I get asked about keto, this one makes it to the top of the list, and for good reason. On a keto diet, fat makes up the majority of calories consumed, and one particular organ that stores the emulsifiers needed to digest the fat is the gallbladder.

On top of that, the general guidelines following the removal of one’s gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is a low-fat diet, so it makes perfectly good sense to question if a keto diet is appropriate in this situation. To answer this question, we need to take a closer look at the relationship between the liver and the gallbladder.

man measuring stomach

Relationship between the liver and the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small storage pouch (or bladder) that sits just below your liver. The gallbladder is responsible for storing and releasing a thick, yellow-greenish fluid called bile, which is produced by the liver.

Bile consists of several substances that help to breakdown fat in your diet to be either stored or used as a source of energy. The liver produces 27-34 ounces of bile in a single day!

During a meal when fat is being consumed, the liver directly sends the bile to the gut for digestion, but between meals when bile is not needed, it is then redirected to the gallbladder for storage.

woman wearing pink sports bra looking at stomach

So just to clarify a common misconception, the liver produces the bile, not the gallbladder. Which means, a person who’s had their gallbladder removed is still producing bile for digestions of dietary fat. However, a high-fat meal can be harder to digest as there’s no extra bile available, which may cause some digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Therefore, the answer is YES, one can follow a keto lifestyle without a gallbladder, however, one may need to make some specific adjustments to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

Below are 8 simple tips to help manage fats and eat keto without a gallbladder:

1. Start low and go slow

Begin with a moderate amount of fat and slowly reduce carbs simultaneously. Continue to adjust as tolerated working your way to ketosis over about a 1 month period.

bottle pouring water in glass

2. Stay hydrated but strategize your fluids

Avoid drinking fluids during mealtime and 30 minutes before and after eating as this may flush out the enzymes responsible for digesting your food.

Sports Research mct oil

3. Favor MCTs over other fats (LCTs)

MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) are a type of fat that does not require any bile to be digested and absorbed. There are several brands of MCT oil now available at most grocery stores and online. Note, MCT oil is not cooking oil but should be taken similarly to a supplement, or added into foods/beverages after cooking.

woman holding avocado

4. Pair fat with soluble fiber

Soluble fiber helps to slow down digestion. Allowing for better absorption of nutrients. Examples of some keto-friendly foods packed with soluble fiber are:

    • Brussel sprouts
    • Avocado
    • Broccoli
    • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed, chia
    • Hazelnuts
    • Cabbage
    • Artichokes

holding keto snack box filledwith cheese, cucumbers, pickles, and nuts

5. Consume smaller, more frequent meals.

This may allow for a better distribution of available bile to dietary fat resulting in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. People without a gallbladder may struggle with longer intermittent fasting approaches like OMAD (one meal a day).

holding supplement pack

6. Consider supplements to help with digestion

Digestive enzymes and bile salts are available over-the-counter that can help with the digestion of fats.

ginger and lemons on counter

7. Try consuming ginger with meals to help with fat digestion 

Researchers found that ginger and other spice compounds can enhance fat digestion. To get some ginger into your diet, try out our Keto Egg Roll Soup recipe!

keto bulletproof chocolate milkshake

8. Utilize shakes when needed

Smoothies and supplemental shakes are often easier to digest as they are already in a blended/drinkable form requiring less work from the gut. Homemade keto shakes are an easy way to incorporate MCT oil, protein, and fiber all-in-one!

keto avocado chicken salad

The Take-Away

Keto is possible even without a gallbladder. However, minor adjustments are likely needed to help aid in digestion and absorb nutrients. Always speak to your doctor first before making big dietary changes, especially right after surgery or with any medical history.

Join The Discussion

Comments 14

  1. Dylan

    After being on keto a few months I got really sick and bad pain. I ended up having an infected gallbladder and had to have it removed. The surgeon told me there was no correlation to being on keto, I was worried it had something to do with it!

  2. Phyllis

    I had my gallbladder removed about 20 years ago and have been eating keto for about 2 years now. I’ve lost 93 lbs and haven’t had any problems. Everyone is different and if you notice issues, I would follow the above advice.

    • Angie (Hip2Keto Sidekick)

      Hi Phyllis. Wow your results are fantastic❤ We are so happy to hear how well keto has worked for you! I also have no gall bladder and am able to live a Ketogenic lifestyle with no issues. Thank’s for sharing with us!

      • Joyce

        hi. I’ve been on keto for over a month or so now but only lost 5lbs so far… could it be because of my lack of gall bladder? I am doing strict keto and OMAd now. Does it have anything to do with it? I also have ovarian cyst…

        • Emily (Keto Nutritionist)

          Hi Joyce, weight loss of 5 pounds in a month is a great weight loss! Lack of gallbladder shouldn’t interfere with weight loss. If you’re only eating OMAD, you might not be eating enough overall. Listen to your body’s hunger signals. It’d be best to consult with a medical professional about the ovarian cyst.

        • C Mahoney

          I am 66and 4stone over weight I,be been on keto a month after years of eating rubbish I lose about half ounce a day what am I doing wrong I cut sugar low carbs plent meat and alcohol

    • Michelle

      Could you provide any tips on your type of meals? I’ve had my gallbladder removed 30 year’s ago.

      • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

        My friend had hers removed and has done keto successfully using the recipes on hip2keto. She loves Avocados, Chicken Broccoli Casserole, and Egg Roll in a Bowl!

  3. Carol

    Hi, I am using Carb Manager which tells me 82 net carbs, 73 grams fat, 165 grams of protein and 1648 calories. Yesterday I did 16 net carbs, 62 total carbs, 38 fiber 48 protein and 1066 calories and 88 fat grams. I’m not losing and am not sure how to cut fat when it seems everything on low carb/keto is high fat. Help!

  4. Joan McCreless

    I did keto about 20 yrs ago..lost a pound a day..but I did zero carb for first 2 wks..then slowly added carbs…I cooked about 5lb chicken breast and chopped a head of lettuce…using mayonaise on both…also had pork rinds…stick to this with zero carb tea or coffee….sodium in cokes makes you retain fluids…this works ! Eat til you are full !

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thank you for sharing your success and tips!


    Am I missing a meal if I drink a keto shake?

    • Emily (Keto Nutritionist)

      Hello, drinking a keto shake does count as a meal. Keto shakes make a great breakfast option if you’re short on time in the mornings or for a quick lunch. If you’re doing intermittent fasting, drink a keto shake during your eating window and stick with zero to very low calorie beverages like water, coffee, tea during your fasting times.

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