Can you eat fat without a gallbladder

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “can you eat fat without a gallbladder?” We will also discuss what gallbladder removal surgery is, what effects it can have on your body, and other queries related. Furthermore, the article will briefly explore some foods to avoid and the most tolerable fats after a gallbladder removal.

Can you eat fat without a gallbladder?

Yes, you can eat fat even without a gallbladder. However, you need to control its consumption to prevent any unwanted side effects. Eating fats without a gallbladder will not cause severe health issues but it can cause bloating, diarrhea, and a lot of gas (1).

The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile until its release when fat digestion will occur. If you have had your gallbladder removed, bile will be less concentrated (or you will produce very few bile) and will be floating freely in your intestines, which can cause a laxative effect (2).

What is the function of the gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a 4-inch-long, oval-shaped organ that is found just under the liver, in the upper right part of the abdomen (2). 

Your gallbladder is in charge of storing bile, which can break down fats into triacylglycerols and furthermore into fatty acids (2).

When you eat fats, your intestine secrete a hormone known as cholecystokinin which induces the contraction of gallbladder and the further secretion of bile to start digestion and absorption of fats (2).

What is bile?

Bile is a fluid produced in the gallbladder and helps with the breakdown of fatty acids, therefore has a major role in the digestion process (2,3). 

Bile is made of three main substances (2,3):

  • Cholesterol
  • Bilirubin
  • Bile acids

Also, bile has water and is provided with minerals, such as potassium, sodium, copper, and some others (2,3). 

Bile can help digestion because it emulsifies fats (mixing water and oil) forming small droplets, therefore, all your enzymes can break down fats easier (2,3).

What happens when you have your gallbladder removed?

Your gallbladder can develop stones, known as gallstones. When this happens, it might be needed to remove it, this procedure is called a cholecystectomy. But can you live without this organ? Yes, you can, and it is the best option if your gallbladder develops any problems (2,3).

When your gallbladder is removed, the bile will not have a space to be stored, therefore it will be floating around your small intestine, its function will remain the same, but without a proper concentration, it will not have the same efficacy as before (2,3).

Although you can live without your gallbladder, you may need to adjust your diet to cause fewer problems (2,3).

Should you have a special diet if you have your gallbladder removed?

Yes, in order to keep you healthy you will need to limit the consumption of certain kinds of food, such as (1,4,5,6):

  • High-fat food such as nuts, oils, and avocado.
  • Oily food, especially fried food.
  • Processed foods, because they often contain high concentrations of fat.
  • Dairy products (with whole milk)

As these types of food are harder to digest without a normal concentration of bile, you may want to avoid them as much as possible. We recommend you visit a nutritionist to substitute these foods for others that do not cause any inconvenience.

Take into account that removing these foods from your diet is temporary, with time, you will tolerate more loads of fats.The adjustment to a life without a gallbladder may take you some months, but slowly you will be able to consume your favorite foods. 

What foods should you avoid without your gallbladder?

Certain types of food may cause some problems after getting your gallbladder removed, some of these foods are (1,4,5,6):

  • Steak
  • Red meat
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Bacon
  • Bologna
  • Salami
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Ice cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Sugary cereals
  • White bread
  • Coffee
  • Soda
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

It may seem a long list (which it is), but having your gallbladder removed will make it harder to digest any of the listed foods. So, if you want to avoid symptoms like diarrhea and nausea, you may want to reduce or substitute these foods (1,4,5,6).

Why are fats important to the human diet?

Fats should be consumed in adequate amounts to achieve a balanced diet. According to Harvard Health Publishing, your body needs a regular consumption of fat, because it has some important functions in our bodies, such as (7):

  • Provides your body with energy and it produces the main energy storage for fasting periods.
  • Adipose tissue helps for thermoregulation in your body, especially against cold temperatures.
  • Protect your organs.
  • Promotes cell growth because it forms the cellular membranes.
  • Fats are precursors of hormones and neurotransmitters which maintain an adequate metabolic, neurological, and physical health.
  • Helps with the absorption of the nutrients 

However, if you have just had your gallbladder removed, it might not be the best idea to ingest too many foods from this group. That is why it is important a nutritionist provides you with a diet plan that can make it up for the temporary deprivation of fats.

What would happen if you eat fatty food after gallbladder removal?

If you consume fatty foods after your gallbladder surgery, the digestion of these will not be the same and may cause some annoying symptoms, such as (1,4,5,6):

  • Diarrhea. It can get as severe as you will not be able to control it properly
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excess gas
  • Flatulence

Also, if you have consumed fats after the procedure, you may find large amounts of fats in your feces, because they will not be digested as well as they used to.

What fats are more easy to digest without a gallbladder?

Immediately after a gallbladder removal, the best indication is to avoid all fats, at least for a few days or even weeks; then you will start including fats gradually into your diet. There are some fats known as Medium Chain Fatty Acids that are more “friendly” in terms of digestion (8).

Medium Chain Fatty Acids are found in dairy products, coconut oil, and palm oil. Medium Chain Fatty Acids do not require too much bile for digestion, they are rapidly absorbed through the hepatic portal vein to the liver (8).

The easy digestion and absorption of Medium Chain Fatty Acids makes them suitable as the first option to start including fats in your diet (8).


In this brief guide, we addressed the query, “can you eat fat without a gallbladder?” We discussed what gallbladder removal surgery is, what effects it can have on your body, and other queries related. Furthermore, the article briefly explored some foods to avoid and the most tolerable fats after a gallbladder removal.


  1. Altomare DF, Rotelli MT, Palasciano N. Diet after cholecystectomy. Curr Med Chem, 2019;26(19):3662–5.
  1. Turumin JL, Shanturov VA, Turumina HE. The role of the gallbladder in humans. Rev Gastroenterol Mex, 2013;78(3):177–87.
  1. Goodman BE. Insights into digestion and absorption of major nutrients in humans. Adv Physiol Educ, 2010;34(2):44–53.
  1. Valencia-Rodríguez A, Aquino-Matus J, Vera-Barajas A, Qi X, Méndez-Sánchez N. New therapeutic options for bile acid malabsorption diarrhea. Ann Transl Med, 2019;7(22):695.
  1. Ribas Blasco Y, Pérez Muñante M, Gómez-Fernández L, Jovell-Fernández E, Oms Bernad LM. Low-fat diet after cholecystectomy: Should it be systematically recommended? Cir Esp, 2020;98(1):36–42.
  1. Shin Y, Choi D, Lee KG, Choi HS, Park Y. Association between dietary intake and postlaparoscopic cholecystectomic symptoms in patients with gallbladder disease. Korean J Intern Med, 2018;33(4):829–36.
  1. Abbott SK, Else PL, Atkins TA, Hulbert AJ. Fatty acid composition of membrane bilayers: importance of diet polyunsaturated fat balance. Biochim Biophys Acta, 2012;1818(5):1309–17.
  1. Roopashree PG, Shetty SS, Suchetha Kumari N. Effect of medium chain fatty acid in human health and disease. J Funct Foods, 2021;87(104724):104724.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!