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How To Prevent Gallstones On Keto Diet In 2024?

Melissa Udekwu

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by James Harmeyer, CPhT/PN1-NC

how to prevent gallstones on keto diet
Individuals with gallbladder stones are recommended to increase their consumption of green leafy vegetables. Photo: Nghi Tran

Gallstones can be very painful and even result in surgery. You might be asking how to prevent gallstones on keto diet, by following some basic steps you can reduce your chances of gallbladder symptoms. 

A healthy diet and exercise is a good start, but what does a healthy diet mean? When you are following a keto diet, you are choosing a higher-fat diet, which can create more cholesterol in your blood, and cause gallstone disease. 

Limiting your high-fat food choices, staying well hydrated, and intermittent fasting can allow your body the time eat need to digest food, and result in you losing weight.

How To Prevent Gallstones On Keto Diet?

  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Avoid snacking
  • Increased veggies
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Healthy fats – avocados, olive oil, nuts
  • Avoid fast food (fatty foods)
  • Low-fat diet
  • Superfoods
  • Regular exercise
  • Supplement with fatty acids

The ketogenic diet is very popular and can be easy to follow, but it may increase your risk of gallbladder problems.

Avoiding a high-fat diet, allowing your body time to digest food with intermittent fasting, drinking plenty of water, and supplementing with fatty acids like Omega 3, will help prevent gallstones on keto diet.

What Are The Effects Of Keto Diet On Gallbladder Health?

The idea of the ketogenic diet is to get more calories from protein and fat and fewer calories from carbohydrates. Cutting back on easy carbs like sugar, soda, sweets, and bread will result in rapid weight loss as your body is in ketosis and is tricked into burning stored fats for fuel. 

The foods often chosen on a ketogenic diet are high-fat proteins, which can be tough on the gallbladder, and increase your dietary cholesterol, but they can help with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

How to prevent gallstones on keto diet? As with any diet, healthy food options that consider your overall health are key in reducing your risk factors of developing gallstones. 

Because saturated fats increase your circulating cholesterol and your risk of gallstone growth, choosing high-fat fish over high-fat red or organ meats, green leafy veggies, citrus fruits, and whole grains helps keep your gallbladder healthy.

What Does The Gallbladder Do?

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located underneath the liver. It plays a key role in digestion and works with the liver to break down fat. The liver makes a substance called bile. 

Bile dissolves and breaks down fats and is released from the liver to the gallbladder, which stores and concentrates bile until it is ready for use.

When we eat, bile is released through the bile ducts to the small intestine, where it breaks down fats from our food so that we can use them as fuel. It also helps us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. 

A gallbladder that is not functioning at full capacity is known as a sluggish gallbladder. This means bile is slow and inefficient, which can result in many uncomfortable symptoms.

This does not necessarily mean you have gallbladder disease, but it does mean you need to focus on your gallbladder health. Intermittent fasting while on the keto diet, gallstones may be just what your gallbladder needs to rest between means. 

Sluggish Gallbladder: What Is It?

how to prevent gallstones on keto diet
Healthy bile flow from the liver and gallbladder is essential for digestive well-being. Photo: Chinnapong/Shutterstock

A “sluggish gallbladder[1]” refers to when the gallbladder is not functioning at its full capacity; instead, bile flow is slow and inefficient. Proper biliary flow from the liver and gallbladder is key to a healthy digestive tract. 

When you experience gallbladder problems, you may notice many other issues in your body and several uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms Of Sluggish Gallbladder

  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Bloating after eating
  • Stool that floats
  • Right-sided headaches
  • A feeling of fullness under the rib cage
  • Burping after eating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased gallbladder motility
  • Gallstone pain
  • Weight loss

The gallbladder is located between the liver and the intestines. Its main job is to store enough bile from the liver until your small intestines are ready to digest your food. 

When the gall bladder becomes lazy, and does not empty completely, particles like bile acids, cholesterol, and calcium salts can thicken and stay in the gallbladder too long. This stagnant bile can create cholesterol-type gallstones, resulting in gallstone disease and possibly surgery.

Tips To Improve A Sluggish Gallbladder On A Keto Diet 

Include More Vegetables In Your Diet
Healthy greens are your friend! Photo: Iakovleva Daria/Shutterstock

Include More Vegetables In Your Diet

Our Mothers always told us green leafy vegetables are good, and they were right! 

More recently known as superfoods, green leafy vegetables are nutrient-dense foods that are key to weight loss, including in all ketogenic diets, help the digestive system function better, and decrease risk factors for many health conditions, including better digestive health, gallbladder attacks, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure

Popeye was right and knew the benefits of spinach.

Do Intermittent Fasting On Keto Diets

The prevalence of obesity has increased a gallbladder attack epidemic, and intermittent fasting while on a keto diet is a good way to help reduce the stress on your gallbladder that eating can cause. 

The ketogenic diet places a lot of emphasis on high-fat food options, which can lead to gallstone growth. Intermittent fasting may be the answer to decreasing painful attacks because you are timed eating and fasting. Longer periods of fasting allow your body time to recover.

Diet & Exercise Keep Things Moving

Diet and exercise keep everything moving, make us feel better, and keep us healthier. It is not the answer to weight loss

Exercising keeps our bodies in motion, improves brain function, reduces disease risk, strengthens muscles and bones – our body’s foundation – and enhances our abilities to complete basic everyday activities. 

Most of our body is made up of water. Approximately 60% of our body weight is water, which can vary based on our hydration levels. Water has key functions within our body which include: carrying oxygen and nutrients, lubricating joints, and decreasing the burden on our kidneys and liver by flushing out toxins.

6 Tips To Decrease Gallstone Formation While On A Keto Diet

  • Incorporate intermittent/frequent fasting – Eating at designated times gives your gallbladder time to rest in between meals
  • Eat plenty of vegetables – The increased fiber in veggies and superfoods/leafy greens helps keep things moving
  • Take purified bile salts – These decrease gallstone formation
  • Don’t eat grains and sugar – These increase fat-storing hormones
  • Avoid excessive protein consumption like protein powders – Protein intake needs to coincide with fat intake to prevent a fat hormone spike
  • Watch your nut intake – Nuts are high in dietary fats
  • Keto Charge supplement – These show benefits of weight loss, mental clarity, and ketosis

Why Is It Necessary To Remove Gallbladder? 

Why Is It Necessary To Remove Gallbladder
The gallbladder stores bile and helps turn cholesterol and fats into cholesterol esters to aid in digestion. Photo: Emvat Mosakovskis/Shutterstock

A cholecystectomy is most commonly performed to treat gallstones and the complications they cause. 

Your doctor will recommend your gallbladder be removed if you are experiencing an inflamed gallbladder, diagnosed gallstones in your gallbladder or bile ducts, pancreatitis due to gallstones, gallbladder polyps, uncontrolled abdominal pain related to your gallstones, an intolerance to fat due to your gallstones, and uncontrolled weight loss due to gallstones. 

There is minimal risk associated with gallbladder surgery, which is often performed laparoscopically. The gallbladder stores bile and helps turn cholesterol and fats into cholesterol esters to aid in digestion. 

Cholesterol can be a cause for gallbladder removal, but the removal of your gallbladder does not lower your cholesterol. 

How To Follow The Ketogenic Diet After Gallbladder Removal Surgery 

  • Eat smaller meals
  • Supplement your consumption of fat by taking MCTs
  • Make sure you get enough magnesium, sodium, and potassium
  • Avoid fat 
  • Eat superfoods such as kale, spinach, and leafy veggies
  • Follow a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet

After you have your gallbladder removed, it can be difficult for you to digest fats, so it is important to make sure you are getting the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Vitamins A, C, E, and K are crucial to maintaining good digestion and bile production, gut motility, blood health and function, and immune-boosting antioxidants. 

Make sure to consult your physicians before taking any new supplements.

Conclusion

The health benefits of weight loss are plentiful, and the keto diet can lead you to success. The ketogenic diet is one that is a higher fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet, and can be supplemented with intermittent fasting for increased weight loss. 

This immensely popular diet is often chosen because you lose weight quickly, and it can be easy to adhere to over some other fad diets. 

By following this diet, you may see additional benefits besides weight loss; the most common are increased mental clarity, decreased inflammation, reduction of non-alcoholic fatty liver symptoms, and a better overall health picture.

 Due to the higher fat consumption, this may not be the answer to weight loss for those on oral contraceptives, people with gallstone disease, kidney stones, excess cholesterol, or those with an increased risk of having their gallbladder removed. 

If you are at risk of gallbladder attacks, it is best to choose foods that slow bile production and are lower in fat, moderate in protein, and lower in carbs. Superfoods like kale, spinach, fatty fish, and citrus fruits will still keep you on the keto track but be gentler on your gallbladder health.


+ 1 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. P. Pazzi, S. Gamberini, P. Buldrini and S. Gullini (2003). Biliary sludge: the sluggish gallbladder. Digestive and Liver Disease, [online] 35, pp.39–45. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s1590-8658(03)00093-8.
Melissa Udekwu

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa is a nurse with extensive experience in healthcare for seniors. With a background in executive management within the skilled, home health care arena and a passion for seniors, Melissa understands what seniors and their care givers need in order to age at home, safely with respect to their wishes. Melissa has extensive knowledge regarding the available resources one needs to age safely, making sure you understand the diagnosis, prognosis, care level options, and insurance coverage.

Medically reviewed by:

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