A Registered Dietitian’s Take on the Bone Broth Fast

Tracey Grant is the registered dietitian, blogger, and Hashimoto’s advocate behind Whole Daily Life. Having overcome her own autoimmune and digestive concerns, she now specializes in helping others do the same. She recently co-created The Healing Hashimoto’s Course to help educate about healing from autoimmunity through lifestyle modification and using food as medicine. She is passionate about making good nutrition approachable and sustainable as a way for anyone to improve their health in a practical way. Tracey recently explored fasting with bone broth and has shared her findings with us. Read below to hear about her experience with a bone broth fast.

The golden elixir that upgraded my digestion, supercharged my brain, and energized my day.

A true bone broth is craveable. Rich, savory, and perfectly salted, it’s the epitome of liquid gold.

I had never heard of bone broth until a few years ago when it became trendy, but in reality, it has been around since our ancestors first started cooking, the result of a primal desire to use every valuable part of the animals upon which they preyed. But bones simmered for hours did more than amplify flavor; bone broth was the original functional beverage, nourishing the guts and joints of those who consumed it regularly.

The History of Bone Broth

Bone broth is made by boiling the bones, tendons, feet, and other parts of the animal that are often discarded in modern cooking. Through the process, valuable nutrients are released, including amino acids such as proline and glycine, which are used throughout the body for strengthening tissues, along with minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These nutrients fortify our body, filling in the gaps that our modern diet lacks. The type of protein in bone broth has a particular proclivity toward healing and maintaining the lining of our gut, which is our first line of defense against the outside world.

In addition to its health benefits, bone broth is the backbone of every delectable soup and stew and the foundation of the best braises and sauces. It is also the reason that grandma’s chicken soup was a cure-all when you were growing up. (And yes, it really did help you get well sooner!)

You see, real food is not only delicious, but also inherently functional.

Concerns with Our Current Diet

Our modern diets are overrun by excess. We are surrounded by “food,” if you can call it that. These processed products and manufactured goods are severely lacking in nutrient quality, and the long-term implications of a diet devoid of the building blocks that our bodies require is a propensity toward malnourishment and chronic disease. This is a far cry from the vibrant, thriving lives that we were designed for.

It’s time to get back to our roots, starting with bone broth. By simply adding broth into your existing diet, you will begin nourishing your cells and retraining your palate to appreciate the taste of real food. Furthermore, bone broth can help to displace some of these poorer quality foods that are actually compromising our health in the long run. Last but not least, many have also successfully used broth as part of a fasting protocol.

A Peek into Fasting

Although fasting has been exploding in literature recently, it is another concept that has been around since the beginning of time. It has only been in the past few hundred years that we have had consistent, reliable access to food whenever we need or want it. In the days of hunter gatherers, there was no guarantee of a daily meal (let alone three!), and fasting was a natural part of life. While you might think that fasting would lead to weakness, it’s actually quite the opposite. Our intelligent bodies know that when food is scarce, we need to be at the top of our game to enable us to find more nourishment, otherwise, we would cease to exist!

Still today, many find that they feel mentally sharp and full of physical energy when they incorporate the practice of fasting into their life. As the body adjusts from primarily using carbohydrates as an energy source to increase the proportion of fat used for fuel, ketones are produced. These ketones are an alternative, and most argue a more sustainable, form of energy for the body and brain. In fact, ketosis is even used as a therapeutic approach for some neurodegenerative and brain-related diseases!

There is a myriad of benefits that come from fasting, including digestive rest and repair, increase in autophagy and disposal of aberrant and ineffective cells, decrease in inflammation, stimulation of healing, optimization of ketone production and focus, and more. But let’s face it, fasting involves sacrifice. We’ve become accustomed to eating regularly, and with food available to us at every turn, we don’t like to have to go without.

Fortunately, there has been quite a bit of research done on how to maximize the benefits of fasting without having to stick to just water.

Mimicking a Fast

Pioneered by Dr. Valter Longo, the Fasting Mimicking Diet uses the principle that by keeping calories under a certain limit and focusing on minimizing insulin response in the body (aka, restricting carbohydrates), the body perceives that it is fasting and activates many of the same beneficial pathways as a true water-only fast. While the FMD is now offered as a packaged product, we believe that it is also possible to mimic this process using bone broth.

In other words, using bone broth to replace food is the closest you can get to a fast without actually fasting, and here’s who may want to consider it:

  • General public / average consumer looking to improve their health
  • Health enthusiast / biohacker looking to optimize their health
  • Those suffering from chronic illness looking for intensive gut healing

How to Nourish with Brodo Bone Broth

Brodo offers three tiers through which you can start to incorporate more bone broth into your diet:

Tier 1 is for someone who is looking to experiment with fasting. Simply replace breakfast with 10 oz broth blended with 1 tbsp fat, then have a normal lunch and dinner. This effectively establishes and mimics a fasting window greater than 12 hours, which is when we start to see benefits take place.

Tier 2 is for someone who has done some fasting before and is looking to build upon that experience. For this option, replace breakfast, lunch, and snack each with 10 oz broth blended with 1 tbsp fat, then have a normal dinner. The key benefits associated with this tier are achieving ketosis for optimizing brain function and expanding the fasting window.

Finally, Tier 3 is for someone who is experienced in fasting, is looking to maximize its benefits, or who has a goal of intensive gut healing. In this tier, consume exclusively broth for the entire day (6+ 10oz cups, each blended with 1 tbsp fat). Key benefits include maximizing ketosis to optimize autophagy, fat loss, improvement in insulin sensitivity, longevity, and more.

There are a few other things to keep in mind:

Other than broth, we recommend sticking to water, tea, and coffee as your drinks; preferably with no added cream/sugar, especially in the morning. This will maintain the fasting window that has already been established overnight. For meals, we recommend aiming for half of your plate with non-starchy veggies, ¼ of your plate with a good quality animal protein such as salmon, grass-fed beef, or pasture-raised chicken, and an optional ¼ of your plate with a starchy vegetable such as potato, sweet potato, or winter squash.

Recommended fats to blend into your broth include: grass-fed ghee, virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or if you’re feeling adventurous, even good quality duck fat, beef tallow, or chicken schmaltz!
Feel free to repeat daily; however, we do not recommend going longer than 3-4 days on Tier 3 or 4 without the support of a practitioner. You can use the same broth/fat combo each time, or mix it up using one of our chef-curated recipes to keep it interesting. My personal favorites are chicken bone broth blended with ghee and hearth bone broth blended with olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary in my mug.

Those who are underweight or malnourished, pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone with a history of an eating disorder, and anyone with hypoglycemia should not participate without the clearance of a doctor. If you start to feel dizzy, faint, or weak, listen to your body and consume food if you need to! The goal here is simply to integrate bone broth into your regular routine.

Okay, it sounds good, but how does it feel?

I’ve always been one to experiment with the food that I eat, because I want to optimize my health and wellbeing, and the only way to know about something is to try it! Naturally, after hearing about the Nourish with Brodo program, I was eager to give it a try first-hand. I placed my order, a box of frozen broth showed up on my doorstep, and the very next week I started replacing my usual egg and veggie breakfast with bone broth blended with ghee. Having experimented a bit with intermittent fasting in the past, Tier 1 felt totally normal. The broth completely satisfied me, and before I knew it, it was already time for lunch. This tier was pleasantly easy for me.

After a few days on Tier 1, I moved on to Tier 2 with curiosity. I’m a foodie at heart, and the thought of only having one meal a day felt a little…incomplete. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t at all hungry like I expected to be. In fact, I felt like my mind was more clear and focused, and I had more time on my hands because I didn’t have to stop for meals. I realized that the thing I missed the most was actually the act and habit of having a meal! I spaced out my broths at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm, and I genuinely enjoyed every sip. I did find that some extra salt in the broth and water with electrolytes helped me feel at the top of my game, which makes sense, as most people on a keto-type diet find that they need the extra minerals.

Last but not least, Tier 3. This was the day that I was feeling a little hesitant about, but just as with Tier 2, I cruised right on through, impressed with how satisfying the blended broths were. This was also the first day that I made a point to mix up the flavor in my broths for the sake of some variety. Having done Tier 2 the previous day, my body was already in a pretty good rhythm, and before I knew it, the day had come and gone. I even did some meal prep, and despite being surrounded by food, was satisfied by the broth and didn’t feel compelled to nibble like I usually do. In fact, I felt great, I was incredibly productive with my work, and I had plenty of energy. (But I definitely enjoyed my breakfast an extra measure the next morning, mostly because I love to eat!)

While Tier 3 is a little more advanced than I personally would do just off the cuff, Tiers 1 and 2 felt completely doable to implement at any time, and I appreciated all of the extra time and focus that I had throughout my days!

A Note on Quality

Naturally, if you’re going to be consuming bone broth throughout the day, especially as a beverage in and of itself, taste matters. Not to mention, the methods through which bone broth is produced make a big difference in the nutritional quality of the final product. Bone broth should be gelatinous when chilled, a sign that it is rich in the beneficial proteins collagen and gelatin, which are primarily responsible for many of the health benefits.

Brodo epitomizes these values by taking an ancestral approach to their broth production. In doing so, they maximize the nutritional benefits while also adding a culinary focus to perfect the flavor of this ancient elixir. The result is a functional beverage that is equally nourishing and delectable, and which will quickly become a staple in your diet.

Chef Crafted Recipes

These are some of my Brodo favorites, but feel free to get creative with your own combinations! We recommend blending everything together with a milk frother or a blender until creamy.

Tuscan Sun: 10oz of broth, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp fresh rosemary, 2 cloves roasted garlic, juice of ¼ lemon
Tom Yum: 10oz of broth, 2 tbsp coconut cream, ¼ tsp thai curry spice, juice of ¼ lime, Calabrian chili
Gilligan: 10oz of broth, 2 tbsp coconut cream, ½ tsp fresh grated ginger, juice of ¼ lime
Deeply Rooted: 10oz of broth, 1 tbsp ghee, ½ tsp each fresh grated turmeric and ginger (1/4 tsp dry)
Sipping Beauty: 10oz of broth, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp fresh parsley, juice of ¼ lemon

Click here to order your brodo.  To read about our 3-day bone broth reset and see more drink recipes click here.

Happy sipping!