Bone Broth Fasting: What is it, and does it live up to the hype?

Fasting of all varieties has quite quickly become all the rage among Instagram fitness influencers and nutrition-aware doctors alike. The simple practicing of going without food for a pre-determined amount of time sounds easy enough, but there are more and more varieties of fasts popping up every day. One particular fast that has gained some popularity is the bone broth fast. Let’s take a look at what this fast is and if it’s right for you.

Intermittent Fasting

Because the bone broth fast is a type of intermittent fast, it makes sense that we should get familiar with what exactly that is. Intermittent fasting refers to a type of fast in which you go without food for a portion of the day — but usually not an entire day. Some varieties of fasting include alternate fasting (eating every other day) the warrior diet (fruits and veggies during the day and a big, protein-rich meal at night) and, the most common form, 16/8 fasting. This method refers to fasting for 16 hours out of the day, with an 8-hour “feeding window.”

Intermittent fasting has gained followers for a variety of reasons. One of the most popular reasons is its ability to help with fat loss and positive metabolic changes in the body.

Intermittent fasting allows the body to burn excess stores of fat because of the unique conditions that fasting creates. In the simplest terms, your body uses fat for fuel when it doesn’t have access to food. In particular, when the body is deprived of glucose it tends to reach for its fat stores for extra energy. This is why ketogenic diets — which involve consuming low to no carbohydrates — allow for such a great deal of fat burning.

Intermittent fasting is also used for its ability to improve blood sugar. Insulin is what is responsible for transporting glucose in the body. Some evidence shows that fasting on a regular basis allows the body to regulate its insulin use and reduce total blood sugar levels — meaning sugar is used for fuel instead of being stored by the body as fat.

Fasting has likely become popular in the fitness industry for a few reasons. For one, most people are tired of being sold another diet fad or weight loss pill. Instead, they would rather spend time understanding their bodies and making the right choices and adjustments to their fitness and nutrition as necessary. In addition, fasting can be incredibly convenient. Most people grew up being incessantly told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — a factoid most likely propagated by the cereal industry. Fasting has shone light on the health benefits of skipping breakfast — a choice that most of us are happy to make, as it means a few extra minutes of sleep and less cooking.

Bone Broth

Now let’s take a look at bone broth and how it plays into the fasting dynamic. If you’ve strolled through Whole Foods recently, you’ve likely seen an end-cap fridge filled with dark brown bottles of broth nestled next to the kombucha and coconut water. Many people are understandably turned off to the idea of slurping down a jug of cold broth — so why is there such a high demand for it?

As it turns out, bone broth has a variety of incredible health benefits. Their health benefits draw largely from the fact that they are derived from highly nutritious parts of animals that we don’t normally consume — in particular, bones. However, bone broth also contains skin, tendons and ligaments that would normally be tossed out of a butcher shop. As bone broth cooks, valuable nutrients like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine all end up in the jar of broth you can find at your local grocery store.

Bone broth can be bought at the store, but it’s completely feasible to make yourself. You should purchase grass-fed bones from a local butcher. Once you’ve got your bones, boil them in water, seasonings, a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and simmer for around 24-48 hours.

Bone broth does incredible things for the joints due to its rich collagen content. Our joints experience a good bit of abuse as we age, and the more collagen we consume, the less damage they will generally take. In addition, the gelatin present in bone broth stock — the same stuff Jell-O is comprised of — is a necessary lubricant for joints.

In addition, gelatin is great for the gut. It can help restore the sensitive lining of the stomach that is so often degraded, and it can help with food sensitivities and with reducing inflammation. Because bone broth comes in liquid form, it is easy to digest and therefore is readily consumed and absorbed by the body.

Using bone broth while fasting

Bone broth can be an incredible addition to any fasting protocol, provided you take the right steps. When used as part of a fat loss protocol or as a “detox” tool, bone broth can be helpful in a fasting protocol. Bone broth is particularly useful for extended fasts of one day or more in which the person fasting needs a bit of calories and protein to make it through the fast without giving the body a lot of junk food to process.

Most people begin with a 2 or 3 day fast consuming nothing but bone broth and water. It’s completely acceptable to start with just one day as well or to replace one meal with bone broth. It’s also recommended to consume bone broth from a variety of sources (for example, consuming chicken and beef one broth.)

Bone broth with additives like ginger and turmeric will provide a great deal of anti-inflammatory benefits as well. You can also and pink Himalayan salt if you’d like. All of these will contribute to both the health benefits and flavor of your broth.

In addition, remember that you are fasting anything other than bone broth, so if you’re drinking coffee, make sure to leave the cream or milk out (and especially the sugar.)

Benefits of bone broth fasting

Fasting with the addition of bone broth has many benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of the most compelling.

1. Improves digestion

Because bone broth is a rich source of collagen, it can help restore the lining of the vital GI tract. Collagen helps soothe the GI tract and can be a major help in healing leaky gut syndrome. In addition, the gelatin present in bone broth is known to help with food sensitivities and allergies. The gelatin also promotes probiotic balance and allows for a favorable digestive environment in the gut.

Because fasting with bone broth allows your body to receive the nutrients from the broth without other additives, your body can more easily absorb these nutrients.

2. Helps preserve muscle

As stated previously, intermittent fasting can include a two or even three day fast. It’s possible that muscle mass could be accessed by the body as a source of fuel during this time, especially if you’re active during the fast. Supplying your body with protein and calories from bone broth can help reverse this unwanted effect.

3. Help with sleep and memory

The amino acids that form the building blocks of protein present in bone broth allow for the production of hormones that help us sleep deeply and be mentally sharp and aware. Glycine, in particular, has been found to help patients who struggle sleeping get deeper sleep.

Bone broth also contains important nutrients like potassium and magnesium, both of which are crucial in energy production and muscle and cognitive functions.

4. Can boost immunity

Doing a bone broth fast allows the good bacteria in your gut a favorable condition to live. High bacterial content is generally associated with a stronger immunity, as well as weight and hormone balance. Probiotics can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is a major cause of illnesses of all kinds.

5. Is more sustainable than other kinds of fasting

Many fasting protocols are designed to be short-term, which means that you usually don’t need extra vitamins or nutrients during them. After all, fasting is completely depriving your body of just about anything other than water to allow it to work through its normal processes more efficiently. However, doing a two or three-day intermittent fast with bone broth can be a great way to experience the benefits of long-term fasting without the brain fog or other negative effects associated with it. Bone broth is incredibly rich and complex in its nutrient content, and thus provides the perfect fuel source for fasting. It’s also fairly low-calorie, meaning your body does not have to process through a large portion of food.

As always, consult a doctor

While bone broth fasting is a great option for many people, you should always consult with your own doctor before making significant changes to your diet. Make sure you consult a professional before you decide if this method is the best for you and your lifestyle.