Hot broths and hearty soups have long been synonymous with comfort and healing here at Konscious Keto. I mean, what couldn't a head-sized bowl of grandma's savory stew fix?
Whether the draw of childhood memories, the warmth of the love from nana's well-worn hands pouring the elixir from her weathered cast-iron pots, or its distinct flavor providing gut-soothing cups of comfort—broth has always brought with it nostalgic echoes of home.
But is there a health benefit to drinking bone broth, especially if following a ketogenic diet, and how is collagen best consumed to maximize its benefits if following a low-carb, high-fat diet?
What is Bone Broth?
Essentially, bone broth is the liquid derived from simmering bones down long enough to extract the gelatinous collagen—along with vitamins and minerals—present in the bones, something essential to the vibrancy and health of virtually every cell in the body.
Although the limited research available fails to demonstrate an abundance of minerals in even grass-fed and highly gelatinous bone marrow broth, it is at the very least established as an excellent source of collagen and certain essential amino acids (proteins). These have a laundry list of benefits—more on that later.
While the nutritional content will vary from batch to batch, you can rest assured that whatever the potency, a bone-derived broth is likely to contain a significant amount of the powerful amino acids mentioned above.
In addition to its gut-healing and fortifying properties, especially helpful to those suffering from digestive conditions like leaky gut, this generally brown and murky-looking stock is actually a form of liquid joint-building gold, among other things.
The diverse profile of amino acids found in most properly-pulled bone broth provides many health benefits, especially to those on a ketogenic diet who likely consume higher levels of red meat and dairy. Diary and meat usually contains elevated levels of the amino acids methionine and leucine, both of which if unregulated by components like that found in bone broth increase the risk of certain cancers.
It's impressive when you consider the many cell-protective components found in bone broth and how they benefit our health. Here's a breakdown of the proteins present in this potent beverage and how they help the body:
Collagen and Gelatin:
These two elements are central to the elasticity and stable form of all cells and tissues in the body. Furthermore, collagen makes up around 30% of the body’s protein—acting as the primary structural component in our bodies' vital tissues like ligaments, tendons, skin, cartilage and bone.
The vital, agility-promoting, component of gelatin is formed as collagen simmers while making bone broth—evidenced by its initial liquidity that transforms to a texture more like Jell-O once cooled, set, and then visibly gelatinous.
You may be familiar with collagen from beauty and skincare ads, where its presence is ubiquitous, and it's understandable since this cell-protective protein is responsible for our supple skin and lustrous hair—even contributing to the maintenance of an exceedingly healthy microbiome to aid in optimal digestive health.
A potent contributor to glucose regulation and digestive health in the body, glycine is an essential amino acid found in collagen-rich bone broth, and we're so glad that it is!
Glycine also reduces the adverse effects of high levels of methionine in the body, something important for those on a ketogenic diet as it's present in the highest levels in meat and dairy products, both of which are staples to most following the keto protocol.
This multifunctional protein also aids in overall digestive health as it stimulates stomach acid production, reduces the risk of gastric ulcers, and helps facilitate the digestion of fats—particularly crucial for those on keto and primarily eating fat for fuel.
To add to its already impressive profile, glycine is also codependent with virtually all other cells in the body as it's responsible for the restoration of what’s considered our master antioxidant, glutathione.
This crucial amino acid comprises about 17% of collagen and helps the body regulate what's called mTOR—a vital contributor to metabolic balance in the body, which aids in healthy cell growth, while it eliminates oxidative particles as well as free radicals from the body via autophagy, to reduce the risk of a host of diseases.
Furthermore, the increased presence of proline in the body helps to mitigate the risk of triggering the mTOR pathway which may lead to an increased risk of cancer growth—a benefit that extends far beyond skin-deep.
Similar to the fluidity of ketones in the body, glutamine is a unique amino acid because it too is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier to provide soothing properties and reparative cell regeneration along the gut lining.
When sourcing the best bones to brew broth, select options with the connective tissue still attached.
Extracting the marrow from the grass-fed bones you choose to use, along with gelatin and collagen, are most present in these cuts along with the joint supporting and regenerating element, glycosaminoglycans.
Toss the heavily marketed creams and potions that promise to banish cellulite and crepey skin for good. Instead, include bone broth into your ketogenic meal plan to supplement with a cell plumping and regenerative source of collagen that actually gets the job done!
You may think you're unfamiliar with glycosaminoglycans until you learn that chondroitin sulfate is the same compound by another name, and is among the most popular of the glycosaminoglycans, often paired with glucosamine, it is commonly used as a dietary supplement to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Furthermore, certain glycosaminoglycans serve additional essential functions in the body.
Specifically, heparin sulfate has been shown to help regulate and support healthy immune system function—with the most renowned glycosaminoglycan, chondroitin sulfate, playing an important part in enhancing our cognitive performance.
What is the Bone Broth Diet?
Admit it, the section's heading made you think, "Wait, is there another fasting method on keto that I don't know about?"
Well, there may be fasting options you still have to learn about, but this fast is less intense than a traditional water fast and much more healing and nutritive, as well.
Rather than the ultimate test of will and strength required to turn down the plate entirely for an extended period, especially if not yet fat-adapted, the bone broth diet offers more dietary options to lighten the feelings of withdrawal from food while maintaining your fast.
Fortunately, the bone broth diet, initially introduced by the matriarch's of old across the country—spooning up good health and dense nutrition, one broth-filled ladle of chicken soup for the soul at a time—encourages adding two 20 ounce servings to your daily dietary regimen while eliminating all processed foods and following a Paleolithic protocol for at least 21 days to reset and reinvigorate the body.
Aside from the crinkled recipes stashed in our keepsakes from elders past, the recent release of the book titled, “Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet", along with the recent surge of collagen-based products in the marketplace, have breathed new life into the social interest in this tissue-building beverage.
The Benefits of Bone Broth
Whether warmed and alluring you in with the pools of grass-fed butter treading its surface or acting as the ingredient that adds a heightened and undeniable distinct flavor to soups and sauces, bone broth is a versatile and healthful food that's particularly helpful for those on a ketogenic diet—more on that below.
Bone broth extracted from grass-fed bone marrow is brimming with joint-building collagen and gelatin, and the evidence of that along with its rich nutrient profile are evidenced outwardly by strong, luscious locks, youthful and supple skin, and thriving nails—but that's only part of the story.
Aside from aiding in the vibrant health of skin, hair, and nails, bone broth also coats and shores up the gut lining to maximize gut health—which can help improve chronic digestive issues associated with leaky gut syndrome.
Also, drinking bone broth is like sipping a targeted agent committed to entering the body and terminating oxidative stress. The brew's abundance of collagen provides an anti-inflammatory effect because it contains the amino acids glucosamine, proline, and glycine, which helps repair cartilage, ease joint pain, and maintain lean muscle mass.
Even if we stick to the outer aisles at the supermarket and our shopping cart is often filled with organic, whole foods, the nutrient depletion of our nation's soil makes it virtually impossible to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the foods we eat, alone—enter gut-healing bone broth.
In addition to promoting the health of our nails, skin, and hair, bone broth—if made from grass-fed marrow bones with ligaments, cartilage, and connective tissue—simmered down slowly or in a pressure cooker—also provides a significant dose of calcium and magnesium, two essential elements often deficient by many on a variety of diets.
The combination of the stress-reducing and calming effects of calcium and magnesium, which leads to more restful sleep and deeper levels of cellular recovery, in addition to the joint supporting and regenerative nature of bone broth, make it an excellent dietary addition for anyone on a ketogenic diet.
Furthermore, many foods contain a plethora of vitamins and nutrients but few provide them in a way as bioavailable to the body as bone broth. Broth aids in overall digestion and is easy for the body to absorb, assimilate, and delegate for immediate use by every system in the body.
Plus, broth's reduction of the permeability of the gut helps us absorb higher amounts of the vitamins and minerals that we get from all the foods we eat.
We know this is all exciting information and a lot to process, so here's a caption of the many benefits of consuming grass-fed, bone marrow broth, in a nutshell:> Promotes sustainable weight loss
> Improves digestion
> Increases energy
> Reduces joint pain and inflammation
> Clears skin
> Facilitates more restful sleep
> Supports hormonal balance (improved blood sugar levels, reduced cortisol levels, etc.)
How Does Bone Broth Work?
Collagen-rich, high-protein bone broth gives our body the nutrients it needs to thrive.
Whether produced in a fraction of the time with the help of genius kitchen aids like the Instant Pot or slow-simmered in a well-worn cauldron, the collagen and protein amino acids infused into this rich broth are incredibly beneficial to human health.
Bone broth essentially acts as a highly nutritious food source for the body, as well as a healing and building element for the gut and our bodies' joints, hair, nails, skin, and connective tissue.
Now, with all its noted benefits it's important to note that no one food is a cure-all but that potent and helpful foods like bone broth are more of an asset and a valuable player on your wellness team.
In addition to drinking bone marrow broth, it's beneficial to eat collagen-rich foods like fish, oysters, and dark leafy greens, in addition to sipping on this soothing and savory swill.
Bone broth is a vital element to any dietary regimen, but it is only a part of a more complete picture, and we cannot live on soup alone.
Use broth as a meal replacement or an addition to a well-rounded, low-carb, high-fat diet, to reap its benefits in a balanced framework.
Bone Broth for Fasting
The idea of eating no food for days may seem like a punishment more than a path to self-preservation, but getting through a temporary pause with the plate is more comfortable with the use of bone broth.
Bone broth is so helpful to sustain feelings of satiety during periods where we abstain from eating, that drinking it is woven into the common practice of ancient cultures. It's even heralded as a blessing to many parents of children with special needs (with a subsequently compromised gut-lining), for its beneficial properties.
If you're curious about how to go about incorporating bone broth into your keto dietary plan, primarily to aid in fasting, keep reading as we have some tips to get you off on the right foot.
Although some in the medical community may squabble about the health benefits of bone broth, reducing its effects to little more than hype and folklore, the anecdotal accounts of many enjoying the benefits of collagen-rich, gelatin-infused, bone broth are hard to ignore—especially when we consider its accessibility and affordability.
In a nutshell, a fast, consisting of mostly bone broth, couples the health benefits of short-term or intermittent fasting with the joint-building and reparative effects of drinking bone broth. This often results in both short and long-term benefits, such as increased and better digestion, weight loss, a faster metabolism, and even increased energy.
Abstaining from eating allows the body the chance to reallocate energy in the body for proper function or recovery that would otherwise be assigned to support the energy needs required during digestion.
Fasting also triggers autophagy in the body—where the body initiates a self-cleaning mechanism and cleanses itself of potentially harmful particles—a process enhanced by the nutritive and fortifying abilities of gelatinous bone broth.
Those on a bone broth fast may drink bone broth and other fluids (e.g., water, herbal tea, etc.), which will result in the deepest levels of cleansing and cellular repair or turnover.
Others may opt to utilize a broth-based fast within an intermittent fasting protocol, adding in a warm cup as a snack or meal replacement while eating keto-friendly foods—to the exclusion of dairy and alcohol—for a period of 3 up to 21 days.
How Can I Do a Bone Broth Diet?
Beginning a new dietary protocol can feel overwhelming because of its related rules and exclusions, but a bone broth diet is quite simple.
We want to help you cut through the sea of information out there related to incorporating bone broth into a ketogenic diet, to keep instructions as simple as the diet itself.
As we promised, we'll get right to the point so you can begin your fast today! We know, your taste buds are anxious and rearing to get started. Here's your basic direction to get started:
To do a bone broth fast, simply consume five to eight cups of bone broth, herbal tea or water, all allowed in unlimited amounts during a full day of fasting.
Simple! See, there's no need to complicate the process. And with this basic sacrifice, we afford our body 24 hours—a time long enough to give our digestive system some time to reset.
If you want to extend your bone broth fast beyond 24-hours, consider drinking four to six cups of bone broth, along with eating one paleo-friendly meal a day to support satiety and ensure you get your daily nutritional needs during your partial-fast.
Although incorporating bone broth into your daily diet is recommended even outside times of fasting, it is advised to limit a more restricted bone broth fast like that mentioned above for up to three days. Then you can resume your usual ketogenic meal plan with the addition of a cup of broth a day to aid in continued digestive health.
3 Day Bone Broth Diet
We'll get into the detailed steps on how to do a 3-day bone broth fast, but first, we'd like to share some essential tips to help you get the best results.
Consider doing a mini fast first, especially if you're new to the practice.
For instance, you may want to try the 16/8 intermittent fasting method, which involves eating during eight hours, and fasting for the other 16 hours, before committing to a full 24-hour or longer length fast.
Although fasting offers some powerful and proven benefits, always listen to your body and use the way you feel as the best barometer of whether to continue, alter, or discontinue fasting to make it suit your dietary and wellness needs.
Physical activity is a vital component of living a healthy lifestyle, but it's best to opt for brisk walks over high-intensity exercise during a fast.
Fasting is a cleansing and reparative process, and it is wise to be gentle and nourishing toward ourselves, showering ourselves with acts of essential self-care during this time. Save the triathlons and CrossFit workouts for when you return to food and are primed for optimal performance.
Ingredients matter and this is especially true with bone broth.
A quality broth is created by extracting the marrow, vitamins, minerals, gelatin, and collagen from simmered animal bones and tissue.
Similar to the case when juicing, the extraction process distills the contents of the ingredients used and magnifies their potency. It is for this reason that using organic chicken bones or grass-fed veal or beef bone marrow when brewing your broth, to ensure maximum nutrition and avoid potentially harmful additives, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, is essential.
Bone Broth Recipes
A brightening splash of citrus is enough to add a lovely zing to salted bone broth, but the possibilities only begin there.
The addition of a hearty dollop of grass-fed butter, bits of roasted garlic, or a heaping teaspoon of B-vitamin-rich nutritional yeast are also some easy ways to concoct nutrient-dense and delicious keto-friendly soups using incredibly flavorful bone broth.
There are many soup possibilities to create with marrow broth as a base, but there are a couple that we find ourselves returning to time and time again. Here's our shortlist of broth-based recipes to nourish your gut, rejuvenate your joints, and boost your immunity:
Dr. Kellyann's Basic Broth Recipe:
- 2 carrots unpeeled, cleaned well and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, with leafy part, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
- 3½ pounds grass-fed beef bones (especially tendons, joints, and knuckles)
- OR— at least two pounds raw chicken bones or carcasses
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Stockpot and Slow Cooker Directions:
- Add the vegetables, garlic, bones, and bay leaves into a stock pot or slow cooker. Drizzle ingredients with vinegar and sprinkle on the salt. Add enough water to cover bones by one inch and cover the pot.
- Cook over a low fire for 12 to 24 hours, for beef bone broth, or about six to eight hours for chicken or turkey bones. Skim the broth occasionally.
- Pour the broth through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Give the broth a taste and add more salt or seasoning if needed.
- Chill the broth. It will keep for three days in the fridge and three months in your freezer, a great item for meal prep!
Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker Directions:
- Place the bones, vegetables, garlic, and bay leaves into your Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
- Sprinkle on the salt, add in vinegar, and pour enough water into the pot to top the ingredients by one inch.
- Secure the lid of your pressure cooker and adjust settings to seal the unit to prepare for pressure cooking.
- Raise the heat to high until the pressure cooker reaches full intensity (about 10 to 15 minutes). Cook on high, or unit's pre-programmed broth setting, for 90 to 120 minutes for chicken or turkey bones and approximately two to three hours if you’re using beef bones.
- Once done, turn off the pressure cooker, and press the pressure lever to release steam, and let the pressure cooker cool down slowly until it’s ready to open—approximately 10 minutes.
- Just strain cooker’s contents and season your broth, once cooled, and enjoy!
The basic broth recipe is enough to satisfy the tastes of most, but even the most delicious broth is enhanced by adding a little extra seasoning to create a savory and delicious broth-based soup.
Soups are perfect comfort food to soothe the soul and warm the body on chilly winter nights, and a broccoli and cheese recipe is always a great option to usher in a cozy evening.
Try the following recipe for a tasty take on broth-based soup that's sure to win favor with the entire family.
Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup:
- 2 strips uncured bacon
- ½ white medium onion, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped
- 2 cups chicken bone broth
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream (organic)
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Cook the bacon until brown and crispy in a large pan over medium heat, about two minutes each side.
- Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Keep the bacon renderings in the pan and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
- Once the vegetables are tender, add the chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, broccoli, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring everything to a light simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- Slowly stir in the cheddar cheese, letting it melt into the soup. Once all the cheese has been blended into the soup, cook for another 10 minutes on low heat, stirring periodically.
- Coarsely chop the bacon strips while the soup simmers.
- Divide soup into 4 servings and garnish with additional cheese and savory bacon bits.
Summary: Use Bone Broth with a Keto Diet
Bone broth offers many health benefits on its own but is enhanced when consumed in conjunction with a ketogenic diet.
In addition to the health benefits experienced on keto, grass-fed bone marrow broth contributes to our improved immunity and ability to absorb the essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients increase vitality and the cellular-protective benefits that help reduce oxidative stress, slow down aging and reduce the risk of some diseases.
Enjoy a basic bowl of keto-friendly bone broth as a flavorful, savory, and satisfying meal option during periods of fasting. Don't forget to incorporate it into your diet during periods of feeding to fortify gut health and contribute to youthful skin and a radiant complexion.
Take this as an opportunity to leverage the power of meal prep by making varieties of bone broth based soup, on the weekend and then portion it out ahead of time, so they're ready to heat and eat when it's time to nourish the body.
From vegetable-packed soups to keto broth savory lattes, the options are plentiful, so salute to living your best life and drink up.
- “Collagen and Gelatin.” Meylers Side Effects of Drugs, 2016, pp. 555–557., doi:10.1016/b978-0-444-53717-1.00540-0.
- Burstein, Ah, et al. “Contribution of Collagen and Mineral to the Elastic-Plastic Properties of Bone.” The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, vol. 57, no. 7, 1975, pp. 956–961., doi:10.2106/00004623-197557070-00013.
- Norris, Daniel H., and Arlee M. Montalvo. “The Rediscovery of Rhabdodontium Buftonii (Broth. & Geh. in Broth.) Broth.” The Bryologist, vol. 84, no. 1, 1981, p. 85., doi:10.2307/3242983.