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Will Bone Broth Help You Lose Weight?

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Every once in a while a food or ingredient will come along that everyone is raving about. It’ll often come endorsed by some celebrity or someone with a questionable medical background.

Some foods though are thoroughly researched and make a realistic and sustainable difference to your physique.

In this article we’ll take a look at the popular food bone broth. Does it help you lose weight or is it just another well-marketed, overly-hyped product? Let’s take a look…


What is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is made by cooking animal bones in water. These can be chicken, lamb, pork, fish or beef bones, depending on preference and availability, but any people opt for wild or grass fed animals to maximize nutrient content. Game is also sought after, although much harder to get hold of.

Typically, the bones are heated gently with filtered water or sometimes with only apple cider vinegar or wine added to it. This is done as the acid helps to break down the connective tissue which results in higher nutrient levels.

The bones are then simmered anywhere from a few hours to a couple of full days. This gives plenty of time to extract the nutrients from the bones themselves. Vegetables can be added in the later stages to add taste, nutrients and texture.

Although many people use terms such as stock and broth interchangeably, broth is different to stock as it contains no meat.

Nutrient Content

After many hours simmering, the resulting product is a savory liquid that contains collagen, marrow and a range of essential nutrients.

The bone provides you with magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. The marrow provides vitamin K2, vitamin A and a range of fatty acids. You’ll also find zinc, iron and the antioxidant mineral selenium too.

Bone broth is high in the non-essential amino acids glycine and proline and the connective tissue component of the broth also contains glucosamine.



Key Point: Bone broth is made from simmering animal bones in water in order to extract their nutrients.


Does Bone Broth Boost Health?

There are a number of nutrients in bone broth that can improve health.

Whilst there are no studies that have looked at the effects of bone broth on indices of health directly, the nutrients themselves have been found to provide a number of benefits in isolated studies.

Glucosamine – a sulphate found in cartilage and synovial fluid – has been found to improve joint health in osteoarthritis [1].

Magnesium and calcium may help to improve bone strength and offset bone thinning in later life [2]. It’s worth noting though, that early studies show that the calcium level might actually be quite low in some broths [3].

The amino acid content may improve cognitive abilities. Glycine has been found to treat mental illness and also improve sleep quality too, particularly when taken before bedtime [4].

Again, these benefits are mostly from nutrients tested in isolation or as part of supplementation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that broth itself will provide you with these and it’s just a little early to make too many inferences without direct research.

Lastly, one interesting study published in the journal Chest did in fact use chicken broth to assess it’s potential as a healer of respiratory infections. As we all know, chicken soup is a popular folk remedy for coughs and colds [5].

The researchers discovered that there may in fact be an anti-inflammatory benefit to bone broth. When eaten it boosted levels of an infection-fighting white blood cell called neutrophils – particularly in the respiratory tract. This means that bone broth may have useful properties for treating colds, flu or asthma.



Key Point: Bone broth contains nutrients that boost the immune system and improve joint and bone health.


Bone Broth and Weight Loss

As a low-calorie food, bone broth may support your weight loss goals by providing you with a nutrient-rich, hydrating food source. There are a number of studies that have found that water in itself can be an important factor in gut and circulatory health, so it makes sense that broth would be too.

Absolute increases in water intake may promote weight loss by boosting metabolism, whereas relative increases may promote weight loss by lowering total energy intake [6]. Either way, getting more water into your diet will help with weight loss.

As well as water playing a potential role in weight management, gelatin consumption may also support weight loss too. It has been found to increase feelings of fullness by stimulating the gut hormone GLP-1 which helps to slow digestion down and speed of glucose intake [7]. This can lead to reductions in overall food intake which in turn could then lead to weight loss. Gelatin It has also been used to treat high and low acid levels in the stomach, which may also help to improve digestion.

Similarly, glycine – an ingredient of gelatin – stimulates gastric acid production which may also help with digestion [8].

There appears to be a few potential links which justify bone broth as a potential weight loss food, although actual studies aren’t available to assess this directly. Despite the lack of direct studies, there are still a bunch of unquestionable health benefits. Meaning bone broth can fit into health eating plans without much of a problem.

Whilst it might be popular in celebrity circles to ‘fast’ using bone broth as your only food, this is not a sustainable approach to weight loss. It promotes a massive calorie deficit that will have long-term health implications and will likely cause a big increase in body weight once you return to normal eating.

Nor will it provide you with all of the necessary nutrients to maintain health when eaten on its own. Instead we’d advise a small calorie deficit alongside good-quality fat burner nutrients.

As a final note, the claims made by some bone broth enthusiasts that just eating the food alone will make you look younger or rival botox treatment is just nonsensical. Ignore it.


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References

  1. Reginster, JY et al. Long-term Effects of Glucosamine Sulphate on Osteoarthritis Progression: A Randomised, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial. Lancet. 2001; 357(9252): 251-256
  2. Shea, B et al. Meta-Analysis of Calcium Supplementation for the Prevention of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. Endocrine Reviews. 2002; 23(4): 552-559
  3. McCance, RA et al. Bone and vegetable broth. Arch Dis Child. 1934; 9(52): 251-258
  4. Yamadera, W et al. Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep Bio Rhythms. 2007; 5(2): 126-131
  5. Rennard, BO et al. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000; 118(4): 1150-7
  6. Stookey, JD et al. Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity. Obesity. 2012; 16(11): 2481–8
  7. Rubio, IG et al. Oral ingestion of a hydrolyzed gelatin meal in subjects with normal weight and in obese patients: Postprandial effect on circulating gut peptides, glucose and insulin. Eat Weight Disord. 2008; 13(1): 48-53
  8. Wald, A. Stimulation of gastric acid secretion by glycine and related oligopeptides in humans. American Journal of Physiology, 1982, 5, 242, G86-G88


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