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Keto Bone Broth: Benefits and Recipe

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S Published on

Table of Contents

What we know of today as keto bone broth, has been around since pots were invented over 9000 years ago. Back then it was simply called “food”. 

In fact, recent research reveals that bone marrow–the prime ingredient in bone broth–is probably the very first animal food that our ancestors began eating nearly 2 million years ago. This was way back when we were scavengers before we even knew how to hunt.

We can thank this ancient nutrient-packed superfood for fueling the rapid evolution of our brains, which eventually made us smart enough to hunt for ourselves, and set us apart from our herbivore ancestors. 

Not surprisingly, bone broth has remained a staple throughout history. In Chinese medicine, bone broth has been used to support digestive health and strengthen kidneys for 2500 years. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, also recommended it for digestion and general health. 

In the modern world, many keto and carnivore dieters swear by the broth they affectionately call, “liquid gold.” 

But is this reputation as an essential keto staple warranted? Let’s explore. 

What is Keto Bone Broth?

Keto bone broth is the soup made from simmering the bones and connective tissues like hooves, feet, beaks, gizzards, and fins of animals. Often this is done with an acid (vinegar) to unlock the mineral content. 

Keto bone broth is usually flavored with salt. And since it can be difficult to get enough potassium and magnesium on a keto diet, keto bone broth may contain a small amount of low-carb, potassium, and magnesium-rich vegetables like kale and asparagus. 

You can make keto bone broth using bones and connective tissue from virtually any animal including, 

  • beef 
  • bison
  • pork
  • veal
  • lamb
  • goat
  • venison
  • chicken
  • Fish

There are numerous types of bone broth found around the world, but not all are keto. For instance, Pho–the popular Vietnamese bone broth soup–isn’t keto because of the added sugar.

What is Keto? 

The ketogenic diet (keto) is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carb diet. It calls for getting, 

  • 70-80% of your nutrients from fat
  • 10-20% from protein 
  • 0-10% from carbs

Eating this way switches your body from relying on glucose for fuel to relying instead on fat, resulting in a metabolic state called ketosis

Benefits of Bone Broth on a Keto Diet

Often when people think about the health benefits of a keto diet they think about what they’re eliminating. And it’s true, ditching all that processed junk food along with the plant toxins and antinutrients you get from grains and legumes can pay huge dividends towards your health. 

But the benefits of keto also come from what you add to your diet. And bone broth may be one of the healthiest and most helpful keto foods there is. 

Helpful? You might ask, how so? 

Bone Broth for Keto Flu

Keto bone broth may be the antidote to the uncomfortable symptoms that can arise during the transition into ketosis, or “keto flu.” 

Going low-carb causes your body to use its storehouse of sugar (glycogen). All this glycogen is attached to lots of water. So you end up flushing (urinating) out lots of sodium and electrolytes. 

So the #1 reason you might experience keto flu is low electrolytes. Keto Bone broth is naturally loaded with electrolytes. And the amino-acid glycine in it can help you produce more bile, which you’ll need to help you break down the higher fat. This can help with constipation in the early going. 

Protects Against Increased Methionine From Meat

One of the persistent criticisms of the standard keto diet is that the main source of protein is meat.

Red meat is fantastic for many essential bodily functions and is loaded with essential bioavailable nutrients. But it also contains amino acids that have been linked to cancer–especially methionine.

However, when studies look at methionine, they find that in order to increase base levels of homocysteine (an amino acid synthesized from methionine, and associated with disease) you need a very high dose of pure methionine. This comes to around 500% the normal daily intake.

Lower methionine doses, like you’d get from a keto diet, do not increase base levels of homocysteine.

Put simply, there is no convincing evidence showing that for healthy people a diet high in muscle meat increases base levels of homocysteine. 

It’s likely that it’s not the meat amino acids themselves that are the cause of disease. Rather, it’s that these amino acids are consumed in the context of a broadly unhealthy Standard American diet and lifestyle that includes excess energy from grains, added sugars, and protein, combined with inactivity. 

If you’re active and enjoying a well-formulated high-fat, moderate-protein keto diet, there’s likely nothing to worry about. 

But, if you’re still worried about your methionine consumption, bone broth may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Keto bone broth is one of the richest sources of amino acids like glycine that have been shown to mitigate the effects of too much methionine. 

Keto Bone Broth Amino Acids and Their Benefits

Bone broth is loaded with collagen, which makes up around 30% of the protein in your body. 

When connective tissues are boiled in a keto bone broth, the collagen is broken down into gelatine and various other health-promoting amino acids like glycine and glutamine.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits offered by each of these amino acids

Gelatin for Digestive Health

If you’ve ever seen bone broth in a fridge, you’ll notice that it thickens like Jello. That’s because of all the gelatin.  

This ability to attract and hold water allows gelatin to bind to water in your digestive tract, helping food move more freely through your gut. Bye-bye constipation! 

In animal studies, gelatin has also been shown to heal and protect the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. And though more research needs to be done, It’s thought to have the same effect in humans.  

Glycine Protects Against Cancer and Aids Sleep

Collagen is packed with more glycine than any other food. For instance, 2 tablespoons of collagen contain 3 grams of glycine.

As we touched on earlier, methionine from eating meat can temporarily increase levels of homocysteine levels. Glycine has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels after protein-rich meals.  

Glycine has also been shown to improve sleep and control blood sugar. As a precursor to creatine, glycine is associated with improved athletic performance and recovery.  

Glycine has been studied for its benefits for bone health as well as neurological disorders like parkinsons and Alzheimers.

In the digestive system glycine protects against gastric ulcers and helps digest fat. And with its restorative effect on the glutathione–the body’s premier antioxidant–it’s benefits spread to nearly every cell in the body.

Glycine for Sleep

Numerous studies show that that glycine helps promote sleep.

In one study taking 3 grams of glycine before bed helped participants :

  • fall asleep more quickly 
  • Sleep more deeply
  • Wake up less often during the night
  • Reduce daytime sleepiness
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Improve memory

Proline to Boost Immunity

Accounting for around 17% of the amino acids in collagen, proline helps regulate the metabolic pathways that contribute to cell growth while eliminating free-radical from cells. It also plays important roles in wound healing, antioxidative reactions, and immune responses.

Glutamine for Gut and Digestive Health

Glutamine is an amino acid associated with improved gut health and reduced inflammation. These qualities are attributed to its role as a fuel source for immune cells and intestinal cells.

Glutamie’s gut-boosting properties make it a key to maintaining the lining of your intestines, protecting you against intestinal permeability, AKA leaky gut.

Glycosaminoglycans for Joint and Skin Health

If your broth is made from bones with the tendons and cartilage still attached, it will contain glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These complex carbohydrates support many important processes in the body. They can attach to proteins to create connective tissue and the lubricant that surrounds joints.  This gives them the potential to relieve joint aches. 

They’re also the raw materials for the maintenance and health of skin, cartilage, and bone.

Glycosaminoglycans found in keto bone broth include: 

  • Keratan sulfates
  • Dermatan sulfates
  • Chondroitin sulfates
  • Glucosamine
  • Hyaluronic acid

Numerous studies have found that glucosamine chondroitin can reduce joint pain and decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Arginine to Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation leads to the most deadly diseases across the globe including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and numerous types of cancer.

Arginine, along with glycine–which we looked at above–have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2015 animal study revealed that feeding arginine to asthmatic mice reduced airway inflammation and improved their symptoms. While a 2016 animal study reduced inflammation in obese rats. But more research needs to be done with humans. 

How to make bone broth.

Making bone broth is easy. This recipe is adapted from our friend Maria Emmerich’s incredible keto cooking expertise. 

Ingredients: 

  • 3½ pounds beef, chicken, ham, lamb, or fish bones 
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped 
  • 12 sticks of asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt 
  • 1 Sprig of rosemary
  • ¼ cup coconut vinegar 
  • Cold filtered water 

Cooking Tips:

  1. Roast beef, lamb, pork, and chicken bones. This adds color and flavor. Roast large bones at 375°F for 50 to 60 minutes, smaller bones for 30 to 40 minutes. 
  2. Cover the roasted bones with cold filtered water. Proteins like albumin will only dissolve in cold water. Albumin helps clarify broth, so if you start with cold water, you will end up with a nice, clear broth. 
  3. Do not skip the vinegar. It draws the minerals out of the bones. It’s also a prebiotic that promotes digestive health. 
  4. If using chicken bones, use the feet as well. They increase the collagen and make for a thicker broth. 
  5. Add bay leaves, veggies, and rosemary. Rosemary in particular helps extract extra calcium from the bones. 
  6. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 24-72 hours. 

Keto Bone Broth: The Bottom Line

Keto bone broth is loaded with important and essential amino acids that offer many proven health benefits. 

For people just starting out on keto, the electrolytes and gelatin in a well-made bone broth can alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms known as keto flu.

Though the science looking at bone broth is only emerging, there’s no need to wait for it. Go ahead and make this ancient staple part of your modern diet! 

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©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED