Doing Keto Without a Gallbladder?
Is It Even Possible?

Following Keto Diet Without a Gallbladder

The purpose of the gallbladder is to produce bile that helps with fat digestion. Since the keto lifestyle is all about substituting fat for carbs many people who have lost this organ (and that's as many as half a million Americans each year), we wonder if they’ll be able to conform to the this regimen. The good news is that doing keto even without a gallbladder is possible. The bad news (and it's not all that bad) is that the "not having a gallbladder" equation means you’ll likely need to make some adjustments to the standard keto process and you may have to take some supplements to aid in digestion.

How Can You Do Keto Without a Gallbladder?

This organ is not high on the list of best-known organs. Nor is it one of those, like the liver, that you can't do without. What it does is store bile that helps the body digest fats. That bile is produced by the liver and temporarily stored in this organ. There it takes on a highly concentrated form and awaits release into the small intestine where it helps break down fats. As such when people contemplate the diet without having a gallbladder, they become concerned. And that's understandable.

fit female curious about keto without a gallbladder

A lifestyle that relies on fats for energy seems like it won't work if your body is unable to digest fats. To understand why being ketogenic with no gallbladder can still work, we need to start by looking at how your body works as a whole without this organ.

How Does the Body Adapt to Life Without the Gallbladder?

Without this, the bile produced by the liver has no way to be stored for future use. Instead, it will flow directly into the small intestine. This has two implications. First, there will still be bile in the small intestine to deal with any fat it encounters. And second, there won't be as much bile as before, and any bile that is in the small intestine won't be as potent as that generated by this organ. Therefore, fat digestion will not be as efficient as it used to be. But it will still happen. So those who wonder "Can I do the keto diet without a gallbladder?" can rest a bit easier because the answer is "yes." You can also watch this video from Dr. Ken Berry about his take on this topic.

A Cautionary Note

cautinary note on keto and gallbladder

While the ketogenic diet without gallbladder is possible, the lack of it is likely to produce some side effects. So it's not like your body is going to skip merrily on down the road, thankful to be rid of this appendix-like dead weight. You may well experience diarrhea and loose stools for some time as the bile from your liver flows in an unregulated fashion into your small intestine.

Also, that diarrhea may be of the fatty variety that will look and smell odd because it contains only partially digested fats. [1]

However, the body will adapt to a certain extent, and smelly diarrhea and other side effects of losing it should subside. At which point it may be possible to ponder going on the keto diet without gallbladder.

Future Steps to Follow...

Going on the keto lifestyle without a gallbladder [2] will need to be handled in a more nuanced way than it would if you still had this organ. But it's not prohibitively complex or challenging. It just requires you taking a more patient approach that might include a few more steps than usual.

You'll begin by having smaller, more frequent meals. This will allow you to introduce keto foods to your meals gradually. Through this slow, measured approach you'll be able to gauge your body's reaction to the low carb foods and allow it adapt at its own pace, rather than trying to force it to change to yours. You'll also want to be sure to consume supplemental fiber, low carb veggies and perhaps even some keto-friendly bread; although that's not always necessary. If you find your body is having a tough time adapting to fatty keto foods you can try the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of fat for a couple of weeks to give your body more time to adjust. If it takes a month for your body to get used to the ketogenic lifestyle, then that's what it makes. Be patient.
  • ​Consider taking MCTs such as caproic or capric acid as these are typically more comfortable for the body to digest because absorbing them doesn't require bile.
  • Remember to stay appropriately hydrated with electrolytes.
  • ​Try drinking ginger tea to help improve your ability to digest fats.
man eating healthy food

In the early stages, it's all about guiding your body toward an acceptance of fat, heavy foods, and that might take several weeks. Once the process is complete, it's likely you'll be able to proceed with your keto diet without gallbladder without encountering any substantive issues.

Always Be Mindful

Keep in mind, however, that your body may find cause to revolt somewhere down the line. If it does, you may need to back off on the fat content of your meal plans for a while and eat smaller, more frequent meals again. You may also need to consider an ox bile supplement to temporarily buttress your ability to digest fats. Can you do keto without a gallbladder even if setbacks occur? Of course. The key is, and always will be patience.

Our Final Thoughts About This...

Keto notepad

When it comes to the question of how to do the ketogenic diet with no gallbladder, the answer is "slowly and patiently." This organ seems to have been a late evolutionary addition to the organ list that developed to enhance a particular liver function, rather than providing a unique role of its own. As such, it is not as simple and straightforward as it would be by having complete organs, but it is nonetheless possible.

To the mechanically-minded, it can be equated with the fuel injector on a car. Driving a car without fuel injection is not a problem, it's just not as efficient as driving a car with fuel injection.

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.