- Likely to promote short-term weight loss
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Bone broth diet overview
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However, these results are based on unpublished research.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.
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 for 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.
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 of protein, two portions of vegetables, one portion of 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.
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 knuckles, joints, 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.
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.
Does it work for weight loss?
Currently, no studies published in scientific journals exist for the Bone Broth Diet.
Kellyann Petrucci, the 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 (1Trusted Source).
- 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 (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
- 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 (4Trusted Source).
- 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.
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 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 (18Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
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 (24Trusted Source).
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.