Healthline Diet Score: 3 out of 5
The Bone Broth Diet blends a low-carb, paleo diet with intermittent fasting.
It claims to help you “lose up to 15 pounds, 4 inches, and your wrinkles — in just 21 days.”
However, these results are based on unpublished research.
This article reviews the Bone Broth Diet, how to follow it, and whether it can help you lose weight.Rating Score Breakdown
- Overall score: 3
- Fast weight loss: 3.5
- Long-term weight loss: 2.5
- Easy to follow: 2.5
- Nutrition quality: 3.5
What Is the Bone Broth Diet?
The 21-day Bone Broth Diet was created by Kellyann Petrucci, a naturopathic doctor who published a book on the diet.
You can extend the plan if you have additional weight to lose.
Five days a week, you consume low-carb, paleo-style meals — primarily meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nonstarchy vegetables, and healthy fats — and bone broth. You avoid all dairy, grains, legumes, added sugars, and alcohol.
Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones up to 24 hours to release minerals, collagen, and amino acids.
Two days a week, you do mini-fasts, which are modified fasts rather than complete fasts, as you’re still able to drink bone broth.Summary The Bone Broth Diet is a 21-day weight loss plan in which you follow a low-carb, paleo diet five days a week and do bone broth fasts two days a week.
How It Works
To follow the Bone Broth Diet, pick two nonconsecutive days per week to do a mini-fast. The other five days are non-fasting days.
On both non-fasting and mini-fast days, you should eat your last meal or snack by 7 p.m.
You have two options on mini-fast days:
- Option 1. Drink six 1-cup (237-ml or 8-ounce) portions of bone broth.
- Option 2. Drink five portions of bone broth, then end the day with a snack containing protein, nonstarchy vegetables, and healthy fat.
Either way, you’ll consume only 300–500 calories on mini-fast days.
On non-fasting days, you choose from lists of allowed foods that fit into categories of protein, vegetables, fruit, and fat.
The regimen is as follows:
- Breakfast: one portion protein, one portion fat, one portion fruit
- Lunch: one portion protein, two portions vegetables, one portion fat
- Dinner: one portion protein, two portions vegetables, one portion fat
- Snacks: a one-cup portion of bone broth twice a day
Carbs — including fruit and starchy vegetables — are very limited to encourage fat burning.
Petrucci does not specify a range of calories for non-fasting days and discourages calorie counting.
80/20 Maintenance Plan
After 21 days — or later, depending on when you reach your weight loss goal — you shift to the 80/20 plan to help maintain your weight.
This means you eat approved foods 80% of the time. The remaining 20% of the time you can stray from the diet and eat foods such as dairy products and alcohol.
You can decide whether you want to continue the mini-fasts during the maintenance phase.Summary To follow the Bone Broth Diet, schedule five days of the week for approved meals and two days of the week for mini-fasts.
Foods to Eat
The Bone Broth Diet includes detailed lists of allowed foods.
Bone broth is a staple of the diet and is preferably homemade.
On non-fasting days, you choose from a range of whole and minimally processed foods — preferably organic.
Examples of allowed foods include:
- Proteins: beef, chicken, fish, eggs — preferably pastured, free range, or wild caught, as applicable
- Vegetables: primarily nonstarchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, greens, tomatoes, and summer squash
- Fruits: apples, berries, melons, citrus fruits, kiwi — but just one portion daily
- Healthy fats: avocados, coconut oil, nuts, olive oil, and ghee (clarified butter)
- Condiments: salt (Celtic or pink Himalayan), other spices, vinegar, salsa
- Flours: almond flour, coconut flour
- Beverages: coffee, tea, water
Bone Broth Guidelines
The diet encourages you to make your own bone broth — preferably using bones from organic, pasture-raised animals.
It recommends using knuckle, joint, feet, and neck bones since they’re rich in cartilage. This source of collagen is the basis for the diet’s claim of erasing wrinkles.
Alternatively, the book author sells dehydrated bone broth and frozen bone broth online for about $2.80 or $7.16 per serving, respectively.
You may also find acceptable bone broth in health food stores or restaurants in larger cities.Summary Whole, low-carb, unprocessed or minimally processed foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nonstarchy vegetables, healthy fats, and bone broth are the focus of the diet.
Foods to Avoid
The 21-day diet recommends you avoid certain foods claimed to reduce inflammation, support gut health, and increase fat burning.
Foods you must eliminate include:
- Grains: wheat, rye, barley, and other gluten-containing grains, as well as gluten-free grains, such as corn, rice, quinoa, and oats
- Refined fats: common vegetable fats, such as canola oil and margarine
- Processed fruit: dried fruit, fruit juice, and sweetened fruit
- Sugar: all forms of refined sugars, such as table sugar, honey, and maple syrup
- Sugar substitutes: artificial sweeteners — such as aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame K — as well as natural sugar substitutes, including stevia
- Potatoes: all potatoes except sweet potatoes
- Legumes: beans, soy products, peanuts, and peanut butter
- Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and butter (except ghee)
- Beverages: soda (regular and diet) and alcoholic beverages
Though this list is extensive, you follow it strictly while you’re actively trying to lose weight.Summary During the initial 21-day diet, you must avoid certain foods and beverages, including all grains, dairy, legumes, added sugars, and alcohol.
Does It Work for Weight Loss?
Currently, no studies published in scientific journals exist for the Bone Broth Diet.
Kellyann Petrucci, author of books about the diet, set up three unpublished 21-day studies run by different health professionals. She reports the participants “lost up to 15 pounds and up to 4 inches in their measurements.”
However, Petrucci didn’t report average weight loss, nor did she compare the Bone Broth Diet to a standard reduced-calorie diet. Furthermore, it’s unknown whether the participants kept off the weight.
No other studies have looked at whether bone broth helps promote weight loss.
This leaves gaps in the evidence needed to determine whether the Bone Broth Diet is as effective or superior to other weight loss diets as Petrucci claims.
However, the diet is based on other approaches that have been studied:
- Low-carb. Low-quality scientific reviews of low-carb diets suggest they produce 1.5–9 pounds (0.7–4 kg) more weight loss than standard reduced-calorie diets. However, high-quality reviews report little or no difference between diets (1).
- Paleo diet. In a three-week study, healthy-weight people on a paleo diet lost 5 pounds (2.3 kg) and 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) from their waistline. Other studies report no difference between paleo and standard reduced-calorie diets (2, 3).
- Intermittent fasting. In a review of five studies, two showed greater weight loss in overweight people using intermittent fasting compared to continuous calorie restriction, while three showed similar weight loss with each method (4).
Thus, a combination of these three dietary approaches — such as in the Bone Broth Diet — may help you lose weight. However, standard reduced-calorie diets may work just as well.Summary Average weight loss on the Bone Broth Diet and its effectiveness over the long term are unknown. Still, published studies suggest that major components of the diet — including paleo, low-carb, and intermittent fasting — may aid weight loss.
Validity of Other Claimed Benefits
The Bone Broth Diet claims to improve blood sugar control, skin wrinkles, gut health, inflammation, and joint pain.
However, these benefits haven’t been documented in peer-reviewed studies. Judging their validity requires looking at research on individual elements of the diet.
Improved Blood Sugar
By itself, weight loss tends to improve blood sugar. Restricting carbs as required in the Bone Broth Diet may add to this effect.
A recent review of reduced-calorie diets for people with type 2 diabetes concluded that low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets for improving blood sugar control — especially blood sugar following meals (5).
Additionally, studies suggest that reduced-calorie, low-carb diets are more effective than reduced-calorie, low-fat diets for decreasing type 2 diabetes medication requirements (6, 7).
Still, there isn’t widespread agreement that low-carb diets are the best option for diabetes management, especially over the long term (5).
Petrucci claims that consuming bone broth can help diminish wrinkles due to its collagen content.
A growing number of studies suggest collagen supplements may noticeably reduce skin wrinkles compared to a placebo (8, 9).
Though some of the collagen you consume is broken into individual amino acids, some enters your blood as short chains of amino acids and may signal your body to build collagen (10, 11).
Still, no published study has tested whether drinking bone broth can reduce skin wrinkles, and the collagen content of bone broth varies (12).
Improved Gut Health
The Bone Broth Diet claims that the collagen in bone broth can help heal your gut, but bone broth has not been tested for this purpose.
However, some evidence shows that products of collagen digestion — including the amino acids glycine and glutamine — may promote gut health by strengthening the mucosal lining of your digestive tract (13, 14, 15).
Still, studies of the diet are needed to investigate this claim.
Obesity is linked to an increased release of inflammatory compounds. Therefore, a weight loss diet, such as the Bone Broth Diet, may help reduce inflammation (16).
Additionally, eating healthier foods — such as the antioxidant-rich vegetables and omega-3-rich fish recommended on the Bone Broth Diet — may also help reduce inflammation (17).
Some studies suggest fasting may have the same effect, but more research is needed (18, 19).
Less Joint Pain
Joint pain can result from extra strain on joints and inflammation due to obesity. Therefore, losing weight — as intended by the Bone Broth Diet — may reduce joint pain (20).
A few human studies suggest that collagen supplements may help decrease joint pain and slow the progression of arthritis (21, 22).
Collagen is a major component of cartilage, which cushions knees and other joints.
Yet, no studies have been done with bone broth collagen, so it’s uncertain whether daily intake helps reduce joint pain.Summary The Bone Broth Diet claims to improve blood sugar, skin wrinkles, gut health, inflammation, and joint pain. Related studies suggest the diet may contribute to these benefits, but additional research is needed.
The Bone Broth Diet may be challenging to follow, but you do get some flexibility after you meet your weight loss goal.
However, since the diet restricts whole food groups, you could be at greater risk of nutrient deficiency, such as for calcium and fiber.
Beyond these concerns, intermittent fasting and the low-carb nature of the diet may result in side effects, such as fatigue and nausea — though these may improve after your body adjusts to the diet (18, 23).
Additionally, a small percentage of sensitive people may not tolerate bone broth, reacting with symptoms like digestive upset or headaches.
Studies are needed to confirm possible causes of broth intolerance. Petrucci suggests it may be due to the fat — which you can skim from the top when it’s cold — or high amounts of the amino acid glutamine.
Lastly, some sources say that bone broth is high in lead, leached from the bones. Yet, a recent study found that bone broth contains only a very small amount of lead and is likely safe to consume (24).Summary The Bone Broth Diet may be challenging to follow and may not meet all of your nutrient needs. You may experience fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms while you adjust to the regimen.
The Bone Broth Diet provides sample menus and recipes.
It also offers portion guidelines. For example, meat and fish should be about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. Fruit should be a closed handful or half a piece.
Here are examples of what you may eat on a typical mini-fast or non-fasting day.
The menu for a mini-fast day is:
- Breakfast: 1 cup (237 ml or 8 ounces) of bone broth
- Morning snack: 1 cup of bone broth
- Lunch: 1 cup of bone broth
- Afternoon snack: 1 cup of bone broth
- Dinner: 1 cup of bone broth
- Evening snack: 1 cup of bone broth or an allowed snack, such as scrambled eggs with ghee and sautéed greens
A sample menu for a non-fasting day is:
- Breakfast: scrambled eggs with ghee and nonstarchy vegetables, and one portion of berries
- Lunch: roasted chicken breast sliced over garden salad with vinaigrette salad dressing
- Afternoon snack: 1 cup (237 ml or 8 ounces) of bone broth
- Dinner: grilled salmon, grilled asparagus, and cauliflower rice with ghee
- Evening snack: 1 cup of bone broth
The Bottom Line
The Bone Broth Diet is a 21-day diet plan that combines 5 days of a low-carb, paleo diet with 2 days of bone broth fasting per week.
Though some studies suggest that these dietary approaches may help you lose weight, it’s uncertain whether they’re better than standard reduced-calorie diets.
Therefore, if one or more aspects of the Bone Broth Diet don’t appeal to you, you may do just as well to simply reduce your calorie intake to lose weight.
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