This is another in our continuing series of Ketogenic FAQ’s
Argghh! I hate this question! It drives me crazy when it gets asked because it shows how fundamentally unhealthy our current low fat dietary guidelines are. Before I answer the question, let’s take a look at what the gall bladder is, how it works, and why you probably had it removed.
The gall bladder is a small organ that is located in the right side of your abdomen just below your ribs and sits under the liver. Here is a helpful picture courtesy of WebMD.
The Gallbladder is essentially a storage tank for bile, an enzyme that aids in the breakdown of dietary fat. When you eat fat, a hormone is secreted that triggers a contraction in the gallbladder which dumps bile into your small intestine which helps break down the fat you ate.
So Why Did You Get Gallstones?
The problem many people face is that after decades of following the dietary advice of their doctors and eating a low fat diet, stones form in the gall bladder. Then they switch to a high fat diet and when the gallbladder tries to contract, the stones clog the bile duct and severe pain ensues often requiring surgery to alleviate. This is why one of the myths of the Ketogenic Diet is that it causes gall stones when it reality it can sometimes reveal stones that have been there all along. Just to put a finer point on this, you got gallstones because you followed your doctor’s advice and ate a low fat diet that humans were never supposed to eat.
What to do if your Gallbladder Has Been Removed
The most important thing you need to know about doing the ketogenic diet without a gallbladder is that is absolutely possible to do keto without a gallbladder. You might need to make a few minor adjustments and take a few supplements but you can eat high fat even without a gallbladder. Remember the gallbladder doesn’t produce bile, it just stores it for a big hit of bile after eating a high fat meal so you can still produce bile even without the gallbladder.
Here are a few tips you might want to follow.
You probably don’t want to start off with a big bulletproof coffee followed by an 18oz ribeye on day one. You will want to work up to higher fat levels slowly. Perhaps you start with just a little butter on your veggies or small pieces of meat. You will also want to chew your food well to break it down as much as possible before swallowing and eat a little slower. No inhaling that delicious steak! Take your time and give your body a chance to process the changes you are making to your diet.
Don’t Be Too Far From a Bathroom
Until you adjust to this new way of eating, you might be prone to bouts of diarrhea. For your own safety, don’t eat a fatty meal and then be somewhere where you can’t access a bathroom quickly. This phase doesn’t last forever but until you know exactly how your body will react to how you are eating, play it safe.
Add a little Raw Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Meals
If you are having trouble digesting in the beginning, add a little ACV to your meal either by pouring it over a salad or mixing a little into a glass of water and drinking it. This has been shown to aid digestion in some cases.
Supplement with Ox Bile
You can take an Ox Bile supplement that functions just like your normal bile. Take it with each meal to aid digestion. Also Thorne makes a product called Bio-Gest that includes Hydrochloric Acid, Pepsin, Pancreatin as well as Ox Bile that is very well reviewed by people with all kinds of digestive issues.
You can read the personal testimonies of people who are doing keto without a gallbladder here if you are interested.
Again, remember that most digestive issues will fade over time as the body adjusts to this new way of eating and eventually you won’t have to do anything special when you eat fatty foods as long as you stop eating the other inflammatory foods like sugar and grains,
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!