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Can I Do a Carnivore Diet Without a Gallbladder?

Choosing the right diet is essential when you’re of normal health. However, it’s even more important when you’re lacking a gallbladder. Many times people ask about carnivore diets when they don't have a gallbladder, today we go dig in to help you understand. So, can you do a carnivore diet without a gallbladder? Yes, although you’ll […]
Josh Koop
April 5, 2020

Choosing the right diet is essential when you’re of normal health. However, it’s even more important when you’re lacking a gallbladder. Many times people ask about carnivore diets when they don't have a gallbladder, today we go dig in to help you understand.

So, can you do a carnivore diet without a gallbladder? Yes, although you’ll need to be careful. The gallbladder performs the crucial task of storing lipid-processing bile. Without this organ, the liver must produce more bile, and you need to adapt the carnivore diet slightly to avoid digestion issues and fats malabsorption. These adjustments include eating leaner meat and changing the frequency and size of your meals.

Phew! Excellent news for all carnivores without a gallbladder out there! However, don’t forget that feeling comfortable in your lifestyle is essential. Let’s find out how to adapt this diet to your needs!

Gallbladder performance, tasks, and functions

Due to its tiny size, you might not have ever given much thought to your gallbladder. Yet, when you are looking at switching to or continuing with an all-meat lifestyle, the properties of this organ suddenly become vital.

The gallbladder is a hollow, pear-shaped sac located just under the liver on the right side of your abdomen. This pouch produces bile during the day, while you are not eating, and becomes the size of small fruit as it fills up. 

As you enjoy your meal, the bile leaves the gallbladder through ducts and reaches the small intestine, where it starts to process fats and lipids. After your meal, the gallbladder is empty and returns to its original size.

The most important task performed by the gallbladder is to store the bile produced by the liver.

Woman has pain in right hypochondrium, maybe gallbladder disease - Carnivore Diet Without Gallbladder

What happens to my body if I don’t have a gallbladder?

While the gallbladder is a vital part of our digestive process, it is entirely possible to live a fully healthy life without it.

However, since the bile produced by the liver won’t be able to find an adequate storage facility, it will end up straight into your small intestine.

This process allows you to continue to break down and absorb most foods and meals without an issue. 

Nonetheless, your intestine won’t be able to have enough bile on request as it would if you had a gallbladder.

This factor translates into difficulty to properly digest larger meals or high amounts of fats at once.

As a result, especially before your body becomes used to it, you might experience digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that harder foods to digest, such as high-fiber, greasy, and fatty ingredients, can make the process much slower.

Why did you need to have it removed?

Over 500,000 people have their gallbladder removed every year, and most of them maintain a normal and healthy life after the surgery.

The main reasons for surgery link to the complications deriving from the accumulation of old bile on the walls of this organ. You might know these deposits under the name of gallstones.

Their size can vary greatly and cause painful symptoms such as inflammation, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.

Other medical conditions that call for a gallbladder removal are:

  • Biliary dyskinesia - happens when your gallbladder cannot move properly and, as a result, is not able to empty the stored bile into the small intestine. 
  • Cholecystitis -Inflammation of the gallbladder itself
  • Pancreatitis - Inflammation of the nearby, connected pancreas
  • Choledocholithiasis - another accumulation of bile that moves down, and therefore bocking, the tubes connecting the gallbladder to the intestine.

While these conditions’ names can sound threatening, everything you need to do to live a perfectly normal life is treating them promptly. As soon as you find out about your condition, speak to your doctor about your options.

What can I do to follow the Carnivore Diet without a gallbladder?

As we have mentioned, gallbladder-removal surgery is a standard procedure that won’t have you deal with many side effects afterward. Indeed, our bodies have an outstanding ability to adapt to the new situation. 

Nonetheless, it is essential to modify your eating habits and diet a little to take the best care of your stomach. Following a strict carnivore diet already helps you eliminate hard-to-digest high-fiber foods, as this lifestyle excludes all carbs, sugars, and plant-based foods. 

An all-meat, zero-carbs diet asks your body to enter ketosis to source the required energy and calorie intakes from proteins and fats only.

Both of these macronutrients are essential in such a strict lifestyle to gain all the compounds you need.

However, as we have seen, your post-gallbladder-removal intestine might have trouble processing such high amounts of fats. 

If you are looking for useful suggestions to adapt your diet to your new gallbladder-less life, read the sections below.

Reduce fats after the surgery

While the gallbladder removal is a standard, non-threatening surgery, your body might still need some time to adapt to the new situation. As you know, the carnivore diet requires you to introduce high amounts of lipids to gain all the energy you need during your day.

However, during the first period after the surgery, you should limit your fat consumption to a minimum. During this time, opt for leaner cuts of meat and avoid cheese, bacon, beef, or other fatty ingredients such as lard.

Increase the fat intake gradually after the first two weeks to get your intestine to adapt to the new digestive system.

Take supplements

In perfectly healthy individuals, supplements are not essential while on the Carnivore Diet. However, without a gallbladder, your digestive system might need a little extra help to process a large number of fats. 

In the case of low-carb diets, dietitians recommend introducing ox bile supplements, which can aid with lipids digestion. Alternatively, if you feel low on energy due to the limited fat intake, opt for MCT supplements, which are fatty acids that are easy to digest and absorb without much bile.

Introduce ginger tea

Of course, the only two beverages you can drink without reservations while on the Carnivore Diet are water (carbonated or natural) and bone broth. However, many individuals prefer to add tea and coffee to their lifestyle. 

Some infusions, such as ginger tea, can help you relieve the effects of indigestion, gas, and bloating. These substances are plant-based, and you should introduce them only in limited amounts while following the carnivore diet.

Stay hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for a healthy digestion process. While omnivores tend to acquire their water supply from vegetables, fruits, and carbs as well, you might need to make an increased effort to keep yourself hydrated.

Kevin Stock, a pioneer of the carnivore diet, suggests that you should drink at least 50% of your body weight in liquids every day, calculated in ounces. Alongside your water intake, focus on providing your body with enough sodium, potassium, and magnesium, through supplements if needed.

Eat smaller, yet more frequent meals

One of the most-loved features of the carnivore diet is that you won’t ever need to calculate calories or portion sizes, and you can eat as much as you want until you are full. Who wouldn’t love this lifestyle?

However, after a gallbladder removal surgery, you should adapt your daily eating routine to the reduced capacity of your digestive system. By eating smaller yet more frequent meals, you can make the best out of the bile flowing through from the liver.

Final Thoughts

The gallbladder performs an important digestive task, but it is not an essential organ for processing fats in otherwise healthy individuals. You can carry on with your carnivore diet without a gallbladder easily. 

Still, you might need to adapt your eating habits to the new, limited performance of your digestive system by eating smaller, more frequent meals, and introducing supplements.

If you read this far you are amazing! I would love to hear from you in the comments below if I helped you gain knowledge and useful information, additionally I would like to know if I got anything incorrect that you believe should be researched more and updated. As always to get the word out please join our new Carnivore Rx group on Facebook and share this out on social media!


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