When it comes to dropping pounds, many people tend to look for “the next best thing,” and the next best thing may be bone broth for weight loss. The assumption is new products are better than existing products, which are often considered old or outdated. While that may be true in some cases, it’s not true in all. Weight loss enthusiasts are now rediscovering the health benefits of bone broth, a delicious health remedy that has been around for centuries.
History of Bone Broth
In its simplest terms, bone broth is a liquid food preparation where bones are boiled in water for anywhere from two to forty eight hours.1 Onions, garlic, and other herbs are often added for flavor. Drinking bone broth is an ancient tradition dating back to 1000 CE. “Bru,” the Germanic root of the word, means to “prepare by boiling”1 and has been used in traditional Chinese and Jewish medicines for centuries.
Bone broth is credited for increasing the popularity of restaurants in 18th century France: innkeepers would give travelers bone broth for the evening. Eventually, these inns were called restoratifs, which means “a place to restore one’s health and wellness.”1
While the popularity of bone broth has decreased over the centuries, it has found a resurgence in today’s health conscious society: many believe it is a safe and effective way to facilitate weight loss.
Bone Broth for Weight Loss?
There are debates in the scientific community on bone broth’s ability to promote weight loss. Few studies are available on the subject, but research is ongoing. However, many believe the health benefits themselves are a key factor in shedding unwanted pounds.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
In addition to being low in calories, bone broth has many health benefits:
Rich in minerals. Bone broth has calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, and fluoride.
Good source of glycine. Bone broth has glycine, which is the smallest of the twenty amino acids. The glycine in bone broth has been shown to help people sleep better, detoxify the body, fight inflammation and improve memory.2
Collagen. Bone broth is rich in collagen, which is a protein. Studies indicate collagen can help heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and intestines. It also supports the joints, tendons, mucus membranes, skin, and bones. Collagen is also believed to help alleviate issues with gastric ulcers.3
An important benefit of collagen is its ability to fight cellulite. Cellulite is defined as fat beneath the skin. While many people believe cellulite is bad, that may not be the actual problem. Cellulite comes from a lack of connective tissue, which decreases the skin’s ability to support itself. (This is why cellulite can be seen in people who are thin or overweight.) Bone broth can increase the amount of collagen in the body, which increases connective tissue. This in turn will help the skin appear smooth and supple. As a result, many believe this helps facilitate the reduction of wrinkles, stretchmarks and cellulite.3
Gelatin. The breakdown of collagen in bone broth produces gelatin. Gelatin has shown to strengthen hair and nails, decrease the risk of autoimmune disorders, help prevent bone loss, reduce joint pain, promote probiotic balance and growth, and help break down proteins.4
Gelatin also contains the following amino acids:2
- Arginine. Arginine regenerates damaged liver cells, produces sperm and growth hormones.
- Proline. Proline is believed to repair a leaky gut, increase the metabolism, regenerate cartilage and heal the joints.
- Glutamine. Glutamine may help heal the gut lining, facilitate muscle building, and strengthen cells in the small intestine.
Inhibits infection. Studies indicate infections caused by cold and flu viruses can be decreased by drinking chicken broth.4
Inflammation and weight gain. Many experts believe chronic inflammation is linked to weight gain. Researchers in the United Kingdom studied subjects for 9 years and noticed that as a person’s weight increased, so did their levels of inflammation.5 In another study published by Wake Forest University, researchers noticed that as volunteers lost weight, their inflammation began to decrease as well.5
The benefit of bone broth is two-fold: the nutrients in bone broth can help reduce inflammation in the gut, which in turn may help a person lose weight.
Ancient Fasting: Bone Broth for Weight Loss
When attempting to lose weight, it is important a person get the vitamins and nutrients their body needs to ensure the weight loss is done safely and effectively. Fasting with bone broth is an excellent option that should be considered for weight loss.
Fasting has been used for centuries and praised by Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen.6 Fasting is also a part of many religious traditions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and Native American traditions. In Ayurveda practices, fasting is described as “a natural method of healing” and considered therapy.6 Paracelsus, one of the three fathers of Western medicine, is quoted as saying “fasting is the greatest remedy–the physician within.”6
Liquid fasting is the abstaining from all solid foods–only liquids are ingested. Bone broth is a liquid that has a high nutritional value and is easy to digest, making it ideal for fasting.
Fasting can yield several benefits:
- Weight loss. A study in the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine concludes that intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. Researchers believe lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of noradrenaline increased breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. As a result, fasting may increase a person’s metabolic rate by up to 14%.7
- Heart health. Studies in animals indicate fasting may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, inflammatory markers and other risk factors.7
- Improved brain health. A study in the US National Library of Medicine suggests that fasting may increase the growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage. Other studies also show an increased level of the brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)7
- Type 2 diabetes. In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31%. Deficiencies in this hormone have been linked to depression.7
- Alzheimer’s. A study conducted by the Department of neurology at the University of California concluded that daily short-term fasts significantly improved Alzheimer’s symptoms in 9 out of 10 patients.7
- Increased lifespan. According to a study in the Journal of Gerontology, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasted.7
- Cellular Waste Removal. Fasting helps the body remove cellular waste naturally via autophagy. Experts believe increased autophagy may help decrease the risks of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases.7
Bone Broth for Weight Loss: Recipes
Fasting with bone broth is an excellent option that should be considered for weight loss. Here are a few bone broth recipes:
- Fill up a large stockpot (or large crockpot) with pure, filtered water. (A crockpot is recommended for safety reasons if you have to leave home while it’s cooking.)
- Add vinegar and all vegetables (except parsley) to the water.
- Place the whole chicken or chicken carcass into the pot.
- Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer.
- If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should start separating from the bone after about 2 hours. Simply remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones. Place the carcass back into the pot and continue simmering the bones for another 12-24 hours and follow with step 8 and 9.
- If cooking bones only, simply let them simmer for about 24 hours.
- Add the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before finishing the stock, as this will add healthy mineral ions to your broth.
- Remove remaining bones from the broth with a slotted spoon and strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.
Grass Beef Bone Broth:
Minutes to prepare: 5
Cooking time: 10 – 24 hours
Number of servings: 16
- 2 lbs. – grass-fed marrow bones
- 2 Tbsp. – organic apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
- 1 Head – garlic (about 12 cloves)
- 1 tsp. – sea salt (more or less to taste)
- 1 gallon – filtered water
- Add all ingredients into a crock pot. (Optional: Brown marrow bones in a pan first to add flavor). Cook on high until broth boils, then switch to low and cook for an additional 10-24 hours.
- Let the broth cool, then transfer to glass jars. Stores in fridge for a few days – or freeze if you want to keep it for longer.
- Makes 16, 8-oz servings
Oxtail Bone Broth
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 – 48 hours
Ingredients (makes 6-8 cups):
- 3.3 lb oxtail (1.5 kg) or mixed with assorted bones (chicken feet, marrow bones, etc.)
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium parsnip or parsley root
- 2 medium celery stalks
- 1 medium white onion, skin on
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt
- 8-10 cups water, enough to cover the bones, no more than 2/3 capacity of your pressure cooker or 3/4 capacity of your Dutch oven or 3/4 capacity of your slow cooker
- Peel the root vegetables and cut them into thirds. Halve the onion and peel and halve the garlic cloves. Keeping the onion skin on will help the broth get a nice golden color. Cut the celery into thirds. Place everything into the pressure cooker (or slow cooker) and add the bay leaves.
- Add the oxtail and bones.
- Add 8-10 cups of water or up to 2/3 of your pressure cooker, slow cooker or Dutch oven, vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice and bay leaves. Using vinegar or lemon juice helps release more minerals into the broth.
- Add salt. While adding vinegar to bone broth helps release the gelatin and minerals from the bones, pink Himalayan rock salt adds extra minerals, including potassium.
- Pressure cooker: Lock the lid of your pressure cooker and turn to high pressure / high heat. Once it reaches high pressure (either you have an indicator or in case of old pressure cookers, see a small amount of vapor escaping through the valve), turn to the lowest heat and set the timer for 90 minutes.
- Dutch oven or Slow cooker: Cover with a lid and cook for at least 6 hours (high setting) or up to 10 hours (low setting). To release even more gelatin and minerals, you can cook it up to 48 hours. To do that, you’ll have to remove the oxtail using thongs and shred the meat off using a fork. Then, you can place the bones back to the pot and cook up to 48 hours.
- Pressure cooker: When done, take off heat and let the pressure release naturally for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid.
- Remove the large bits and pour the broth through a strainer into a large dish. Discard the vegetables and set the meaty bones aside to cool down.
- When the meaty bones are chilled, shred the meat off the bone with a fork. If there is any gelatin left on the bones, you can reuse the bones again for another batch of bone broth. Just keep in the freezer and add some new pieces when making bone broth again. Use the juicy oxtail meat in other recipes (on top of lettuce leaves, with cauli-rice or as omelet filling) or eat with some warm bone broth.
- Use the broth immediately or place in the fridge overnight, where the broth will become jelly. Oxtail is high in fat and the greasy layer on top (tallow) will solidify.
- Keep the broth in the fridge if you are planning to use it over the next 5 days. For future uses, place in small containers and freeze.
Make an effort to make your own broth because homemade bone broth is healthier than the broth found in stores. Ingredients that can add flavor to homemade broth (as well as increased nutritional benefit) include the following:
- Bay leaf
Avoid using the following ingredients as they tend to make broth bitter:
- Turnip peels
- Brussels sprouts
- Green peppers
- Mustard greens
Bone Broth for Weight Loss Tips
Bone broth has been consumed for centuries as both medicine and a delicacy. If a person intends to drink bone broth for weight loss, try incorporating these tips as well:
- Drink 8 ounces of broth daily.
- Eliminate processed and fast food from the diet.
- Replace sugary drinks with water.
- Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day.
- Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep, per night.
Bone broth is a healthy and nutritious and beverage that can be an effective weight loss tool when part of an active, healthy lifestyle.
- Bone Broth Fast – Ancient Healing Tool
- The Autoimmune Answer: As simple as a “Three-Legged Stool”
- Ground Zero: How to Heal Your Leaky Gut
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- R4: Reducing Cellular Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
- Intermittent Fasting – A Top 5 Strategy to Create Your Best Health Ever
- Controlling Blood Glucose – Top 5 Strategies for Your Best Health Ever
- Why Your Brain Quits Working
- Diabetes: The Unspoken Solution
- Baby Boomers, Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Nutrition
- Eater — The Bone Broth Trend Isn’t Going Anywhere
- Live to 110 — The Healing Power of Bone Broth
- Body Ecology – Bone Broth: Heal Your Gut
- Dr. Mercola — Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples
- Hello Healthy — The Weight Gain-Inflammation Connection
- All About Fasting — The History of Fasting
- Authority Nutrition — 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting