Simmer Down: Pros and Cons of Bone Broth

By: 
True You
January 17, 2022

As long as there are people looking to lose weight, there will be new diet crazes that promise wonderful results with little to no effort. We should always be skeptical of any wonder drug or miracle weight loss food, and bone broth is no exception. 

Drinking bone broth has become trendy, fashionable, and as of late, a new supposed shortcut to wellness and weight loss. In this article we will look into the potential upsides and pitfalls of this new health fad. 

The Dangers and Benefits of Bone Broth

Drinking bone broth is far from a new phenomenon. Many culinary traditions have long prepared broth soups made by slowly simmering animal bones and connective tissue for many hours at a time. The resulting soup is supposedly rich in collagen, gelatin, calcium, and protein, as well as other amino acids and important nutrients. Recent interest in this soup often made from beef or chicken bones is centered around using it on fasting days while on an intermittent fasting diet. 

Proponents of drinking bone broth say this paleo diet-friendly liquid is packed with essential nutrients your body needs without the carbs and other fillers that have been linked to weight gain and long-term health issues. Supposedly providing support against everything from leaky gut and joint pain to high blood sugar levels, the list of supposed health benefits of bone broth can seem endless. 

In addition to some of the claimed advantages of bone broth, there are some easily verifiable nutritional qualities of this savory liquid. A few of the most common nutrients found in bone broth include:

  • protein
  • collagen
  • magnesium
  • glutamine
  • calcium

On the other side of the spectrum, there is some evidence that care should be exercised before you go all in on bone broth as your next great weight loss hope. Everything from digestive problems to lead poisoning has been linked to consuming large amounts of bone broth, and some nutritionists have questioned the supposed health benefits.  

What are the Side Effects of Bone Broth?

For all the supposed benefits of bone broth, there are certainly downsides as well. Lead can creep into plants, and when animals consume them, the lead is stored in the bones. By simmering bones and connective tissue for long periods of time, it is possible that lead in poorly sourced or prepared animal bones could leech into the broth during cooking. 

What is more, despite the supposed improvements in gut health of an intermittent fasting diet paired with drinking bone broth, some people on bone broth diets report bloating, constipation nausea, and even upset stomach. This is somewhat controversial, as proponents of bone broth claim that glycine and glutamine should promote gut health by adding strength to the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. More research is needed to verify these claims, though.

Like the keto diet, the bone broth diet is not designed to be a long-term solution to overall nutritional support. Many people have found benefits of intermittent fasting, but this should be seen as a separate component of an overall weight loss strategy. The biggest concern is that by narrowing the variety of foods you are consuming, you could be setting yourself up for nutrient deficiencies or even malnutrition. Bone health, for example, is not just about calcium levels, but the amount of vitamin K and other nutrients you consume, most of which is often found in veggies and fruits. 

It is also important to note that some supposed benefits of bone broth have little scientific backing. Research is very much still ongoing about whether collagen supplements work at all, regardless of how you ingest them. 

Can You Lose Weight Only Drinking Bone Broth?

The answer to whether you can lose weight by only drinking bone broth might technically be yes, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good idea. Any diet that deprives your body of calories can technically result in weight loss, but this can be a danger to your health. Especially if you are combining diet and exercises such as strength training to help lose weight, you need to make sure your body is getting the full spectrum of nutrients you need to stay healthy. In any case, no significant studies published in scientific journals have looked specifically at the benefits of bone broth for weight loss. 

While a cup of bone broth is higher in protein than some other foods, it cannot provide you all the vitamins and minerals needed to keep you going. Pairing high-protein foods with a diet largely free of carbohydrates and full of veggies and healthy fats is a better idea if you are looking to create a diet plan you can live with for the long term. 

The bottom line is that while the bone broth diet and other low-carb diets can produce results in the short term, they are often not designed to provide lasting nutritional support if you are trying to keep weight off. If you are trying to lose a significant amount of body weight, you should be working with a dietitian as well as your doctor to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need for your overall health.

There is one group of people for whom bone broth is a great way to get in much needed nutrients. Bariatric surgery patients in the early weeks post surgery have to be exceedingly careful about the foods they eat. Every sip of liquid counts when it comes to getting as many calories in your body as possible. As your new digestive tract alignment is healing after a gastric bypass, foods need to be introduced slowly and carefully, and bone broth can be a good option in the early weeks of a post bariatric surgery diet. 

This severely restricted diet is one of the reasons more and more people are looking for other alternatives to traditional gastric bypass when it comes to medically assisted weight loss. Aside from the life-long dietary restrictions, there can be other complications to bariatric surgery that can prove life-threatening. Even for all these potential side effects, the effectiveness of gastric bypass is not guaranteed, with many people gaining back the weight they initially lose after surgery over the course of the next several years.

At True You Weight Loss, we help people find the freedom they are looking for from excess body weight. We know from experience that there are many approaches such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, gastric ballooning, and more that can help people lose weight. Success depends on making sure the right procedure is chosen for each patient. 

If you have reached the point where it feels as though diet and exercise are no longer going to get you the results you need, it may be time to explore other options. Request a consultation with True You Weight Loss today. 

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