You may have noticed some obese people losing weight after they had their gallbladder removed. Did they lose weight because they’ve gotten rid of their gallstones and gallbladder?

If you’ve been failing in your weight loss efforts and have gallstones inside you, we’d understand your next question. Can gallstones stop you from losing weight? Would you be more successful in losing weight if you had your gallbladder removed, too?

How do gallstones form?

The bile in your gallbladder is composed of cholesterol, bilirubin, bile salts, and water. These components balance each other and keep bile in a liquid state. The liver continues to produce and release bile into the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores and thickens the bile, and releases it after a meal to aid in digesting fats. The bile also helps in the disposal of waste products including bilirubin.

This is the normal cycle of bile. There are certain conditions, however, which disrupt this normal functioning and cause gallstones to form.

  • An imbalance in the composition of bile can cause gallstones formation. Too much cholesterol or bilirubin, or too little bile salts will make the bile very concentrated.
  • A gallbladder that does not empty correctly may lead to the bile becoming stagnant and saturated with cholesterol or bilirubin.

In either situation, the bile will thicken and eventually form solid deposits called gallstones.

Is there a link between gallstones and obesity?

There’s definitely a link between gallstones and obesity. Obesity, drastic weight loss, and certain eating patterns are all weight-related factors that increase the risk of developing gallstones.

Studies show that obese individuals are more prone to developing gallstones than their non-obese counterparts. The liver produces high levels of cholesterol in obese people. This leads to high concentrations of cholesterol in the bile, which is an ideal condition for gallstone formation.

If you happen to be obese, don’t ever think that rapidly losing weight or fasting to lose weight will be quick solutions. On the contrary, you will only compound your risk for gallstones. Both these weight-related regimens encourage high cholesterol production by the liver and abnormal functioning of the gallbladder.

Can gallstones stop you from losing weight?

Gallstones don’t prevent you from losing weight. Instead, the presence of gallstones should make you think twice about the methods you choose to lose weight.

For instance, if you already have silent gallstones, rapidly losing weight will likely trigger gallstone symptoms. The same thing is true about fasting.

On the other hand, it’s true that some people who have their gallbladder removed experience weight loss after surgery. That’s mainly due to their special diets during the recovery period. It could also be the result of diarrhea or lack of appetite which are side effects of the procedure.

However, this weight loss is temporary in nature. Without proper weight management, weight gain will ensue in time. The removal of your gallbladder or gallstones will not solve your obesity issue, that’s for sure. Conversely, gallstones won’t stop you from losing weight.

What’s the best way to lose weight if you have gallstones?

It’s pretty obvious that the key to safely losing weight is to lose it slowly. How slow? Losing 1/2-lb to 2-lb per week is the recommended pace by health specialists.

Choose food rich in fiber but low in sugar and starch. Don’t totally avoid fats. Instead, incorporate healthy fat sources into your diet to encourage healthy bile movement.

Be active. Exercise moderately on a regular basis. Refer to your doctor before implementing any weight loss program.

One very important thing – once you attain a healthy BMI, adhere to it. Avoid weight fluctuations beyond 5 pounds per week. Fluctuating weight is referred to as yo-yo weight loss and is another cause of gallstone formation.

Bottom line

The concern for obesity has reached global proportions. Whisper the words “obesity” and “weight loss”, and you’d create a buzz. The world seems to have exploited every possible solution to it, and every obese person has tried at least a couple of these solutions.

We’re certain about two things. First, a weight loss program that works for another person will not necessarily work for you. Each method will have its own success and failure stories to tell. Second, even if you initially succeed in a particular program, the problem would usually be in adhering to it.

Having gallstones makes things even more complicated. You’d have to dig deeper. You must not go through gross nutritional deficiency just to lose an inch. It’s not so much about how can gallstones stop you from losing weight. It’s more about being careful in your weight loss methods so that you don’t make matters worse if you already have gallstones.

Published by Ella Maclin