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 [2, 3, 4].
In fasting studies, overweight and obese humans have shown to have significant weight loss benefits . 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 .
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 .
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 . 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 [10, 11].
One fasting study also shows promise for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) . 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 . While there appears to be no research into fasting and brain fog, patients who fast often report enhanced mental clarity and focus.
Skip the Bone Broth if You Are Histamine Intolerant
For those who are histamine intolerant, bone broth may not be such a good idea as it is a higher-histamine food. You can still follow the fasting guidelines here, but use meat broth or vegetable broth instead.
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 [15, 16, 17].
- Reduced joint pain and osteoarthritis symptoms [18, 19].
- 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 [28, 29, 30].
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 [31, 32, 33].
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 . A gentler fasting approach such as intermittent fasting may lead to better long-term success.
Some research also suggests that intermittent fasting can lead to lean muscle mass loss . This is a factor that should be taken into account when considering using intermittent fasting as part of a digestive reset protocol. Adequate protein intake during your feeding window can help to mitigate this risk.
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.
- Johnson JB, Summer W, Cutler RG, Martin B, Hyun DH, Dixit VD, Pearson M, Nassar M, Telljohann R, Maudsley S, Carlson O, John S, Laub DR, Mattson MP. Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Mar 1;42(5):665-74. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.12.005. Epub 2006 Dec 14. Erratum in: Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Nov 1;43(9):1348. Tellejohan, Richard [corrected to Telljohann, Richard]. PMID: 17291990; PMCID: PMC1859864.
- Patterson RE, Sears DD. Metabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting. Annu Rev Nutr. 2017 Aug 21;37:371-393. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634. Epub 2017 Jul 17. PMID: 28715993.
- Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, Marosi K, Lee SA, Mainous AG 3rd, Leeuwenburgh C, Mattson MP. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Feb;26(2):254-268. doi: 10.1002/oby.22065. Epub 2017 Oct 31. PMID: 29086496; PMCID: PMC5783752.
- Golbidi S, Daiber A, Korac B, Li H, Essop MF, Laher I. Health Benefits of Fasting and Caloric Restriction. Curr Diab Rep. 2017 Oct 23;17(12):123. doi: 10.1007/s11892-017-0951-7. PMID: 29063418.
- Stockman MC, Thomas D, Burke J, Apovian CM. Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight? Curr Obes Rep. 2018 Jun;7(2):172-185. doi: 10.1007/s13679-018-0308-9. PMID: 29700718; PMCID: PMC5959807.
- Krista A Varady, Surabhi Bhutani, Emily C Church, Monica C Klempel, Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 90, Issue 5, November 2009, Pages 1138–1143, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28380
- Horne BD, Muhlestein JB, May HT, Carlquist JF, Lappé DL, Bair TL, Anderson JL; Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study Group. Relation of routine, periodic fasting to risk of diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jun 1;109(11):1558-62. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.01.379. Epub 2012 Mar 16. PMID: 22425331.
- Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, Sokołowska MM, Socha M, Liczner G, Pawlak-Osińska K, Wiciński M. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders-An Overview. Nutrients. 2019 Mar 20;11(3):673. doi: 10.3390/nu11030673. PMID: 30897855; PMCID: PMC6471315.
- Sutton E, Beyl R, Early K, Cefalu W, Ravussin E, Peterson C. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metabolism. 2018. Volume 27, Issue 6, Pages 1212-1221.e3, ISSN 1550-4131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010.
- Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing Res Rev. 2017 Oct;39:46-58. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 31. PMID: 27810402; PMCID: PMC5411330.
- Bagherniya M, Butler AE, Barreto GE, Sahebkar A. The effect of fasting or calorie restriction on autophagy induction: A review of the literature. Ageing Res Rev. 2018 Nov;47:183-197. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30172870.
- Kanazawa M, Fukudo S. Effects of fasting therapy on irritable bowel syndrome. Int J Behav Med. 2006;13(3):214-20. doi: 10.1207/s15327558ijbm1303_4. PMID: 17078771.
- Phillips MCL. Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 17;11(10):2501. doi: 10.3390/nu11102501. PMID: 31627405; PMCID: PMC6836141.
- (2017) Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths, Food & Nutrition Research, 61:1, DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1347478
- De Luca C, Mikhal’chik EV, Suprun MV, Papacharalambous M, Truhanov AI, Korkina LG. Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:4389410. doi: 10.1155/2016/4389410. Epub 2016 Jan 19. PMID: 26904164; PMCID: PMC4745978.
- Kim DU, Chung HC, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee BY. Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 26;10(7):826. doi: 10.3390/nu10070826. PMID: 29949889; PMCID: PMC6073484.
- Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T. and Prawitt, J. (2015), The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol, 14: 291-301. doi:10.1111/jocd.12174
- Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006 Nov;22(11):2221-32. doi: 10.1185/030079906X148373. PMID: 17076983.
- König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.
- Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, Li B. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c. PMID: 28174772.
- Alcock RD, Shaw GC, Burke LM. Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 May 1;29(3):265-272. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0139. Epub 2018 Sep 26. PMID: 29893587.
- Lopetuso LR, Scaldaferri F, Bruno G, Petito V, Franceschi F, Gasbarrini A. The therapeutic management of gut barrier leaking: the emerging role for mucosal barrier protectors. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(6):1068-76. PMID: 25855934.
- Lopetuso L, Graziani C, Guarino A, Lamborghini A, Masi S, Stanghellini V. Gelatin tannate and tyndallized probiotics: a novel approach for treatment of diarrhea. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Feb;21(4):873-883. PMID: 28272692.
- Zhong Z, Wheeler MD, Li X, Froh M, Schemmer P, Yin M, Bunzendaul H, Bradford B, Lemasters JJ. L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003 Mar;6(2):229-40. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200303000-00013. PMID: 12589194.
- Wang W, Wu Z, Dai Z, Yang Y, Wang J, Wu G. Glycine metabolism in animals and humans: implications for nutrition and health. Amino Acids. 2013 Sep;45(3):463-77. doi: 10.1007/s00726-013-1493-1. Epub 2013 Apr 25. PMID: 23615880.
- Bannai M, Kawai N. New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep. J Pharmacol Sci. 2012;118(2):145-8. doi: 10.1254/jphs.11r04fm. Epub 2012 Jan 27. PMID: 22293292.
- Manheimer EW, van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Pijl H. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):922-32. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.113613. Epub 2015 Aug 12. PMID: 26269362; PMCID: PMC4588744.
- Pitt CE. Cutting through the Paleo hype: The evidence for the Palaeolithic diet. Aust Fam Physician. 2016 Jan-Feb;45(1):35-8. PMID: 27051985.
- de Menezes EVA, Sampaio HAC, Carioca AAF, Parente NA, Brito FO, Moreira TMM, de Souza ACC, Arruda SPM. Influence of Paleolithic diet on anthropometric markers in chronic diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr J. 2019 Jul 23;18(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s12937-019-0457-z. PMID: 31337389; PMCID: PMC6647066.
- Trepanowski JF, Kroeger CM, Barnosky A, Klempel MC, Bhutani S, Hoddy KK, Gabel K, Freels S, Rigdon J, Rood J, Ravussin E, Varady KA. Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Jul 1;177(7):930-938. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.0936. PMID: 28459931; PMCID: PMC5680777.
- Tinsley GM, La Bounty PM. Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutr Rev. 2015 Oct;73(10):661-74. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv041. Epub 2015 Sep 15. PMID: 26374764.
- Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.1.69. PMID: 15640462.
- Golbidi S, Daiber A, Korac B, Li H, Essop MF, Laher I. Health Benefits of Fasting and Caloric Restriction. Curr Diab Rep. 2017 Oct 23;17(12):123. doi: 10.1007/s11892-017-0951-7. PMID: 29063418.
- Lowe DA, Wu N, Rohdin-Bibby L, Moore AH, Kelly N, Liu YE, Philip E, Vittinghoff E, Heymsfield SB, Olgin JE, Shepherd JA, Weiss EJ. Effects of Time-Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Parameters in Women and Men With Overweight and Obesity: The TREAT Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Nov 1;180(11):1491-1499. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4153. Erratum in: JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Nov 1;180(11):1555. PMID: 32986097; PMCID: PMC7522780.