Bone Broth Fasting for Weight Loss, Insulin Control, and Metabolic Health
Bone broth is enjoying a moment in the limelight, and for good reason. Popular with keto, low carb, and paleo dieters, bone broth provides protein, healthy fats, collagen, and essential minerals. And unlike sweet drinks, a steaming mug of chicken bone broth won’t send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. Few beverages have a nutrient profile that stacks up like bone broth.
When it comes to fasting for health or weight loss, bone broth is a great choice.
Health Benefits of Fasting
In general, fasting works on two main detox principles. When you avoid solid foods for a period of time:
- Your digestive system can rest and repair.
- Your immune system is not exposed to inflammatory foods, thus calming the immune response.
There’s a fair amount of research to support the idea that fasting is anti-inflammatory  and has wide-ranging health benefits [X, X, X].
In fasting studies, overweight and obese humans have shown to have significant weight loss benefits [X]. In one study of obese adults, participants lost an average of 12 lbs in eight weeks when fasting days were alternated with days of eating freely [X].
Two observational studies followed members of the LDS (Latter Day Saints) church who fast as a religious practice. The studies found that participants who routinely fasted were 35% less likely to develop coronary artery disease and 44% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to participants who ate normally .
Clinical trials provide evidence for how intermittent fasting (fasting for a daily time period) may help to prevent heart disease. Intermittent fasting inhibits the development of plaque in the arteries, reduces inflammatory markers, and reduces blood pressure [X].
Since bodyweight is so closely associated with insulin resistance and heart disease, researchers designed four pilot studies to determine if fasting produces health benefits independent of weight loss [X]. They concluded that intermittent fasting helped men with prediabetes improve insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, β cell responsiveness, blood pressure, and oxidative stress levels even when no weight loss occurred.
The most surprising finding was that the results appear to depend on the time of day. Participants who restricted their eating to the middle of the day saw significant health benefits. Participants who restricted their feeding to late afternoon or evening saw either no positive response or a worsening of glucose levels, blood pressure, and lipids.
Intermittent fasting also improves health by increasing autophagy, a natural detoxification process that cleans up damaged cells and encourages new cell growth [X, X].
One fasting study also shows promise for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [X]. In this study, a group of IBS patients who did not respond to conventional IBS treatment followed a 10-day fast and five days of re-feeding. Fasting significantly improved seven out of 10 assessed IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and anxiety.
Fasting has also been shown to be good for brain health, improving cognition, slowing down age-related cognitive decline, and enhancing functional recovery after a stroke [X]. While there appears to be no research into fasting and brain fog, patients who fast often report enhanced mental clarity and focus.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Unfortunately, there’s been less research into the health benefits of drinking bone broth, as a fasting beverage.
However, we do know that bone broth is high in collagen, gelatin, and amino acids like glycine and proline. It also contains minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc . Research into these compounds, while mostly preliminary, suggests that bone broth may have significant health benefits.
Collagen is a main building block of the human body and is found in skin, hair, ligaments, bones, and other body tissues. Collagen supplements have shown health benefits, including:
- Improved skin elasticity and moisture [4, 5, 6].
- Reduced joint pain and osteoarthritis symptoms [7, 8].
- One study showed a 7% increase in bone mineral density for post-menopausal women who took the collagen supplements for 12 months .
- Collagen may benefit gut health, but the research is preliminary. A study of human cells showed that collagen peptides significantly decreased the mechanisms associated with leaky gut .
It’s important to keep in mind that bone broth does not contain as much collagen as the dietary collagen supplements used in research . If you want to significantly increase your collagen intake, collagen supplements may be the best choice.
Gelatin is the jelly-like substance that forms in cooled bone broth. It is essentially cooked collagen. Gelatin absorbs water and may protect the mucous layer of the digestive tract and help repair leaky gut. Gelatin tannate, a combination of tannic acid and gelatin, has been shown to enhance the mucus barrier of the gut and restore the gut lining . Gelatin tannate has also been shown to be effective for treating chronic diarrhea .
Glycine is one of several amino acids found in bone broth protein.
Glycine has anti-inflammatory properties, and it enhances the immune system and protects body tissues from injury . As a nutrient, glycine has been used to prevent tissue injury, promote wound healing, improve immunity, and treat metabolic disorders and inflammatory diseases . Glycine has also been shown to improve sleep quality .
Glutamine is another amino acid in bone broth which may have gut-healing properties. Animal studies have shown that glutamine protects the gut lining from damage and injury. Further research with human subjects is warranted.
Benefits of a Bone Broth Fast
When you combine the benefits of fasting with the benefits of bone broth, the advantages add up. Drinking bone broth is easier and gentler than most other types of fasting. Bone broth is nutritious, filling, satisfying, and easy to absorb.
Bone Broth Fasting Options
At its most basic, bone broth fasting means that you drink bone broth instead of eating solid food. However, there are several different ways to approach a bone broth fast. Choose the approach that fits best with your goals.
2-3 Day Bone Broth Fast (Gut Reset)
A gut reset is a fast that’s designed to give your gut a complete break from the work of digesting food. This can be very useful if you experience an inflammatory flare. It’s also a great way to kick-start a healthier diet or gut treatment program.
During a 2-3 day bone broth fast, you can drink as much bone broth as you like, along with herbal tea and water. Coffee is not recommended, as it can irritate your gut. However, if you experience a caffeine withdrawal headache, you can sip small amounts of coffee until your headache improves.
Intermittent fasting is the most-studied fasting method. Also known as time-restricted eating, intermittent fasting involves restricting your caloric intake to a specific period of time. Typical intermittent fasting intervals may be an eight-hour eating window and a 16-hour fasting period, or a 10-hour eating window and a 14-hour fasting period.
How does bone broth fit into intermittent fasting? Technically, drinking bone broth means that you are consuming calories, so it does break that intermittent fasting rule. However, since it is a carb-free, easy-to-digest liquid, it can be consumed in small quantities during the daily fasting period.
Bone broth is a great choice to help ease your transition into intermittent fasting. It’s also the best option for managing hunger or cravings during the fasting period. Some intermittent fasters swear that a cup of warm bone broth before bed helps them to sleep.
The Bone Broth Diet
The 21-day bone broth diet is a modified intermittent fasting diet that includes two days of bone broth fasting and five days of a low-carb, paleo diet plan. The diet was popularized by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci in her book, Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet.
This 21-day Bone Broth Diet is intended to support weight loss and improve metabolic and cardiovascular health. The diet combines the health benefits of weekly fasting with a dietary approach that has also been shown to help metabolic and cardiovascular health [1, 2, 3, 4].
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting involves one day of fasting and one day of healthy eating that’s unrestricted in calories. In this case, bone broth may be used to support a gentler approach to fasting days. Like intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting has been shown to support metabolic health, cardiovascular health, and weight loss [X, X, X].
Tips for a Successful Bone Broth Fast
The great thing about bone broth fasting is it cuts down on your food preparation time. Make a big batch of bone broth before you start your diet, and freeze your daily portions.
If you are new to fasting, don’t start with the most challenging fast. Try intermittent fasting with a 10- or 12-hour eating window. Or, try a two-day gut reset.
If you are fasting to lose weight, go easy with your fasting. Long periods of extreme fasting can increase stress hormones and lead to binge eating [X]. A gentler fasting approach such as intermittent fasting may lead to better long-term success.
As you transition into fasting, you may find that you go through periods of feeling hungry. Consume some healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut oil, or ghee to ward off hunger pangs and keep your fast on track.
How To Make Bone Broth
Homemade bone broth is easy to make. An electronic pressure cooker or slow-cooker can help, but you can also make bone broth on your stovetop.
Starting by finding a source of high-quality bones. Free-range, organic poultry, and grass-fed beef are available at specialty grocery stores, butcher shops, and farmers’ markets. You can also use any high-quality animal bones, including pork, lamb, and fish.
To increase the collagen and gelatin content of your bone broth, choose cuts with lots of cartilage and connective tissue. This includes whole chicken carcasses and beef knucklebones. Bone broth needs to be cooked for long periods of time in order to extract all of the nutrients from the bone (add apple cider vinegar to help with this process).
Bone Broth Recipe
This recipe is for chicken or beef bone broth. However, you can substitute any type of bone, including fish bones.
- 1 whole chicken carcass or 3-4 lbs of beef bones
- A generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- Optional: aromatic vegetables and herbs, such as carrots, celery, kale, parsley, and/or cilantro
- Optional: additional seasonings, such as turmeric or chili flakes
Stove Top or Slow Cooker Method
- Place bones in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add water until bones are completely covered.
- Add apple cider vinegar (to help leach minerals from the bones) and salt.
- Bring to a boil. Then, turn down the heat to simmer slowly for 24-36 hours.
- Add aromatic vegetables, herbs, and seasonings for the last 6-8 hours of cooking time.
- Turn off the heat, allow the broth to cool slightly, and strain out the bone, veggies, and other ingredients.
Pressure Cooker Method
- Place bones in a pressure cooker. Add water until bones are completely covered. Do not exceed the maximum fill line.
- Add salt and apple cider vinegar (to help leach minerals from the bones).
- Add aromatic vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.
- Set the pressure cooker to 120 minutes. Allow a natural release.
- Allow broth to cool slightly, then strain out the bones, veggies, and other ingredients.
Where To Buy Bone Broth
For convenience, you can buy prepared bone broth on Amazon or in your local grocery store. You can also buy powderedbone broth, which can be a great option for travel.
Kettle & Fire was one of the first brands to sell prepared bone broth, and they still source animal bones from organic, pasture-raised livestock.
Bone Broth Fasting Is Easy and Flexible
Drinking bone broth and periods of fasting are common in many cultures. Modern science is finally catching up with these ancient practices.
Bone broth fasting is a simple and effective health practice that can help you to lose weight, fight insulin resistance and heart disease, and improve your digestive health. Pick a fasting approach that works for you, whether it’s a quarterly gut reset, a daily intermittent fasting schedule, or a weekly fasting period. Like most health practices, consistency is key to long-term benefits.
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