Healthy Living

Can Losing Weight Cause Gallstones?

Can Losing Weight Cause Gallstones?

Losing weight rapidly if you are overweight can increase the risk of developing gallstones. Dieters who shed weight slowly are safer than those who lose three pounds or more in a week.

The Gallbladder

The gallbladder, which is a tiny sac found below the liver, functions as bile is stored until it is required. Bile facilitates fat digestion in the body. It is made by the liver and then stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder contracts and shoves the bile via the common bile duct and goes to the small intestines.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones, which are hard deposits found in the gallbladder, are formed when compositions of bile, which are mainly calcium salts, bile pigments, and cholesterol becomes extremely concentrated. The size of a gallstone can be compared to a golf ball or a grain of sand, as they normally vary in size. A big gallstone can block the bile duct and bring on the symptoms; however, a number of people can still remain asymptomatic. The most known symptoms include fever, pain at the middle, upper, or right upper abdomen, jaundice, clay-colored stools, vomiting, nausea, and a feeling of abdominal fullness.

Fast Weight Loss

Fast weight loss with prolonged fasting periods alters an individual's fat metabolism and can cause gallstones. According to research, 10% to 25% of individuals engaging on a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) develop gallstones. A third of those individuals who developed gallstones showed symptoms and had to undergo a gallbladder surgery. According to experts, the liver produces more cholesterol to the bile in people engaging in very-low-calorie diets.

Weight Cycling

Weight cycling (losing and gaining weight frequently) also causes gallstones, so it is wise to maintain your weight once you have lost it. Ursodiol (Actigall), which is used in dissolving gallstones, can be given to individuals who require losing weight fast for prevention of gallstones formation. Orlistat (Xenical), used in obesity treatment, helps prevent gallstones when losing weight. It reduces the bile acids, which can in turn cause gallstones.

Gallstone Prevention

Exercising and dieting are crucial when it comes to gallstone prevention, as well as proper weight loss. 

  • Losing one to two pounds in a week is adequate in your weight loss goal. Obese individuals should also try shedding some weight since it is attributed to gallstone formation. Ensure that your diet is balanced and cholesterol-free. Also, try exercising daily. Skipping meals is also not advised since it may lead to gallstone formation.
  • Keeping a strict exercise routine and eating healthy may seem like a hard task, however, it is important in gallstone prevention. 

Monounsaturated fats contained in canola oil, olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil, flaxseed, and avocados) may bring the risk of gallstone formation down. Individuals with high levels of triglycerides are advised to use fish oil since it aides the gallbladder to empty. Stay away from saturated fats found in butter, fatty meats, and other products from animals, since they increase the risk of high cholesterol, gallstones, and other related health diseases. Opt for low-fat animal products like lean chicken and low-fat yogurt instead.