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Bone Broth as a Meal Replacement: Nutrients & Weight Loss

6 min read
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Jonathan Valdez post Reviewer Jonathan Valdez post Reviewer
Verified by Jonathan Valdez
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist in NYC, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Can bone broth be used as a meal replacement? Here we uncover bone broth’s nutrient profile and whether it can substitute for a meal.

Table of Contents

You may have heard of bone broth as a seemingly miraculous bulletproof coffee or protein shake alternative that is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. 

However, is it too good to be true? Is it okay to drink bone broth every day? What about a bone-broth liquid diet? We will cover these topics and more in this article, so read on! 

Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth is a nutritious soup product that is both moderately high in protein and low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. 

For reference, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food database, a serving of one cup, or eight fluid ounces, of beef bone broth contains

  • 14 calories
  • zero grams of fat and carbohydrates
  • three grams of protein. [1]

In comparison, an example protein shake from the same database contains about eight grams of protein but also has 216 calories, four grams of fat, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. [2]

This contrast leads many to wonder whether bone broth is a suitable replacement for protein shakes in their diet and if they could even substitute bone broth for entire meals or snacks.

Bone broth also contains a trace amount of certain essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, and calcium.

Bone Broth is a Meal High in Sodium

An eight-ounce serving of the beef bone broth mentioned above also has 470 milligrams of sodium. This poses a problem for people who are at risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, with 1,500 milligrams as even more ideal, especially if you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. [3]

Therefore, if you are interested in drinking bone broth, especially if you want to have it every day, opt for “Low Sodium” or “No Salt Added” varieties. Additionally, you could make your own bone broth at home and limit the salt you add to lower the sodium content while saving money and decreasing your carbon footprint by not wasting scraps.

Bone Broth as a Source of Collagen & Amino Acids

Additionally, many wonder whether bone broth contains the significant amounts of collagen and amino acids that bones have.

In fact, a study found that bone broth is unlikely to be a good source of collagen and amino acids to support health benefits in the body. [4] 

Can Bone Broth Be a Meal Replacement?

It is best not to use bone broth as a meal replacement because it is not a significant source of nutrition. It has a bit of protein but is not rich in vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, or fat to fuel your day. 

While the high water content in the broth may keep you feeling full at first, it is likely that you will quickly be hungry and unsatisfied soon after. Therefore, bone broth is best used to supplement a meal or a snack instead of replacing it. Or better yet, replace the regular broth that you usually use for cooking with bone broth.

Can Bone Broth Replace Eating Meat?

Bone broth should not replace eating meat, poultry, seafood, or fish because these foods are much higher in protein and other nutrients. 

For example, bone broth has three grams of protein per cup, while a 100-gram serving of chicken breast contains almost 20 grams. [5] So, again, bone broth should only supplement your intake of other protein-rich foods. Meat contains more bioavailable protein that is easier for your body to use.

Additionally, by replacing meat and other animal protein sources with bone broth, you are losing out on the iron and other essential vitamins and minerals that meat provides.

If you are looking to avoid meat in your diet, make sure you replace it with high-protein plant-based alternatives, such as tofu, tempeh, or seitan. 

Speaking with a registered dietitian nutritionist can help you make sure you are getting all of the nutrition you need when you are following a plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan dietary pattern. 

When It’s Worth Replacing Some of Your Meals With Bone Broth

While there is typically little reason to replace meals with bone broth, it could be a good option for when you are intermittent fasting and need a low number of calories since bone broth only has 14 calories per one-cup serving. 

Additionally, bone broth can be a good snack if paired with a high-fiber carbohydrate and healthy fat source. For example, bone broth paired with celery and hummus can be a balanced and nutritious snack that’s hydrating.

However, it is not recommended to replace your meals with bone broth, even when you are dieting, because it is too low in calories and can lead to unhealthy weight loss. 

Can You Lose Weight by Drinking Bone Broth?

Unfortunately, not many high-quality research studies exist regarding whether bone broth can help you lose weight, so more research needs to be done in this area. However, as long as you are not using it to replace meals or snacks completely, bone broth can be a comforting beverage or soup base that contains some protein too. 

If you are struggling to lose weight, a registered dietitian nutritionist can provide you with an individualized nutrition plan. Additionally, a weight-loss app may help streamline the weight-loss process to make it easier to achieve your goals.

Final Words

Let’s recap some key takeaways from this article. 

  • Bone broth is moderately high in protein but extremely low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. 
  • Bone broth is high in sodium, so opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties or make your own at home.
  • Bone broth should not replace meals, snacks, or protein in your diet because it does not provide significant nutrition.
  • There is not enough research to suggest that bone broth can help with weight loss.
  • If paired with a balanced and healthy meal, bone broth can be a great addition by providing a few extra grams of protein.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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