Should I try a bone broth fast? Wait, what is it even; what does it entail? Yes, I’ve been asked all of this.
Because I teach and preach the art of bone broth, I get asked many questions with regards to both the process of making it and the act of drinking it.
Today I want to focus on the act of drinking it.
In fact, did you know that if you’re having any sort of digestive issue or flare bone broth can help calm things down? It is so soothing to the gut that you could see a reduction of symptoms in as little as 24 hours!
In fact, I know that to be true first-hand as I was technically participating in this sort of fast long before it was ever a thing.
What is a Bone Broth Fast?
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A bone broth fast is exactly as it sounds; fasting, and not eating anything except for bone broths for a period of time.
It is a type of Intermittent Fasting where the digestive system rests from inflammatory foods and food altogether.
The bone broth fast is usually done for 3-4 days and most do it for calculated reasons.
Does Bone Broth Help You Lose Weight?
While a bone broth fast might allow your body to shed a couple pounds, know that it’s not likely true weight; water weight instead.
Additionally, because you should only practice this for 3-4 days at a time, it’s hardly the weight loss tactic that would be long term.
If you haven’t realized this already, I’m not a fan of the weight loss and gut healing mash-up. I don’t believe the two goals should be set together. And no, not even if you have weight to lose.
Ultimately, create your number one goal. That goal is to heal your gut, the rest will follow.
If you have weight to lose, it’s more likely to naturally happen as your gut heals. Because the reverse is also true; if you have weight to gain, it’s also more likely to naturally happen as your gut heals.
So will this fast work for weight loss?
Crash-diet weight loss. That’s it.
Should I Try a Bone Broth Fast?
Then who should try this type of fast? Quite honestly, I was never a fan of talking about this topic until I realized that, many years ago in 2009, I basically did it.
And it did jumpstart healing and ah-ha moments for digestive patterns.
This is why I want to talk about it now.
It might be for you.
Dr. Axe lists THESE 7 benefits to a bone broth fast. If you want to learn more about the following benefits, check out his post: makes your skin glow, helps prevent muscle wasting, and can improve sleep, memory, and cognition.
My goal with this post is to focus on the digestive-related reasons for trying a bone broth fast.
- overall digestive implications
- supplies important minerals
- boosts immunity
Because bone broth contains collagen which is needed to form tissue that makes up the lining of the GI tract, consuming it can protect and soothe the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing leaky gut syndrome, IBS symptoms, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and acid reflux.
In addition, when the right things are added to the bone broth, it becomes a very nutrient dense food; adding a boost of nutrition you may have not been getting.
Both of these, of course, help boost the immune system.
Fasting for Autoimmune and Illness
Remember how, when you were growing up and came down with the common cold or flu, Mom always said, “I’ll make you Chicken Noodle Soup so you feel better?”
Mom probably had no idea why she was recommending chicken soup.
However, chicken soup has long been regarded as a remedy for symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections. (source)
Furthermore, the idea for Chicken Noodle Soup is:
- It’s warm for those illness chills.
- Mom thought you’d get it down easier with any sort of appetite loss and/or nausea.
- Fluid consumption and something in your stomach.
These three things are key for an autoimmune flare and general illness, too.
Only, this is not your average Chicken Noodle Soup. You’re just consuming cup after cup of nourishing bone broth.
Bone Broth Fast Recipe: Which Bone Broth to Choose for Fasting?
Now, this is where it can get very granular.
In my book,The Leaky Gut Meal Plan: 4 Weeks to Detox and Improve Digestive Health, there are two bone broth recipes: Chicken Bone Broth and Beef Bone Broth.
There is also a Vegetable Broth recipe which I think also serves a purpose; just not relevant for this topic.
Dr. Daniel Pompa says,
Beef stock remains one of the only super foods that even the most sensitive will not have a reaction to. The Type II collagen in beef stock also works wonders for the inflamed, leaky gut, which will bring some immediate relief and less sensitivity.
I believe that any high-quality bone broth will work.
[NOTE: I understand that the thought of making homemade bone broth is very intimidating at first. But please do not let that intimidation stop you from consuming it. In my 30-day gut reset with Clean Eating Magazine, I have an entire video demonstration for how to make the Beef Bone Broth. You will be set to go after watching that. Alternatively, just buy high-quality broth. And that does not mean Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup. Sorry.]
Bone Broth Fast Caveats
The bones you choose must be high-quality.
Don’t skimp on this part. If you can’t get high-quality bones, it’s okay. Grab the Classic Beef Bone Broth from Kettle and Fire HERE. (Use code ‘AGUTSYGIRL’ at checkout to save.)
High-FODMAP / SIBO.
I’m asked all the time about this one. “But your recipe uses garlic and onion, etc. and I have SIBO.” There are different trains of thoughts on this one. Some say that if you have SIBO, you cannot have any high-FODMAP foods in the broth (i.e the garlic and onion, etc.) However, that’s not a definitive.
Not everyone will react to the FODMAP foods seeping into broth. This is going to be highly unique to you, so make the best choice. There are ways around it.
Some people are not able to tolerate this type of broth due to histamine/glutamate intolerance. If you already know you have a histamine intolerance, you might not be able to do bone broth. You could still do the Vegetable Broth, but the benefits (while still plentiful) are not the same.
Learn more about histamines HERE and/or grab Dr. Becky Campbell’s book, “The 4-Phase Histamine Reset Plan: Getting to the Root of Migraines, Eczema, Vertigo, Allergies and More.“
Making This Fast Work for You
If you are the very beginning of your journey, have no clue what might be wrong (but feel miserable), and just want the basics, do the following:
- 3- 4 days fasting
- Make a high-quality homemade Beef Bone Broth.
- Journal through your days; when are you consuming the broth, are you consuming anything else, and how are you feeling?
- Evaluate on day 4 or 5 and then move forward.
You can start with any / all of these resources:
- Start Here
- A Gutsy Girl’s Master Resource
- The Gutsy Girl’s Bible
- The Beginner’s Guide to Digestive Health Testing
But if you have been on your gut healing journey for some time now and have never tried this type of fast, here is what I’d recommend:
- Try doing a 3-4 day fast strictly for the purpose of letting your digestive system rest and digest, cleanse and reboot. You just never know what might happen!
- Do the same, exact steps as above except you should be more advanced by now (if you already have bone broth-ing under your belt!) so:
- Tinker with the recipe, removing the things you know won’t work.
- Add other gut-healing boosts to your broth. This is something I would commonly do for each bowl / cup of broth consumed. I wouldn’t add the boosts into the whole batch; instead, to individual servings. This would be things like: additional collagen, L-Glutamine, etc. Click HERE to grab my 10 Gut-Healing Boosts for Bone Broth.
Preparing for Your Bone Broth Cleanse
Like everything else in life, success comes from preparation.
Here are the things to do in order to be fully prepared.
- Make broth – lots of broth. For the 3-4 days, I’d have an entire batch of both chicken and beef broth pre-made. I have instructions in those recipes for how you can expedite the process if you have an Instant Pot. Instant pot chicken broth anyone? I would also even consider making one more batch of either chicken or beef or throw in a new bone source via turkey bones.
- Buy broth. See below, but I would buy a high-quality pre-made bone broth just in case. In fact, I think this is good practice anyways to always have a few packaged bone broths on hand. I ran out of broth on Christmas and we needed it to make au jus for prime rib. Thankfully, I had one extra package of Kettle and Fire on hand!)
- Clear the calendar. I realize you cannot do this fully (usually), but try to make as much room for resting, relaxing, and reflection. Slowing down will be your ally in this quest. Therefore a Saturday – Monday might be your best days to choose.
Alright, now that you’re prepared, here are some general guidelines to follow.
How to Do a Bone Broth Fast
- Consume 2-3 quarts bone broth per day. If you can mix up your bone sources, that’s even better. In addition to the Chicken and Beef recipes I have provided, you could also make a Turkey broth. To get even more creative, you might find some quality pre-made bone broth variations from Kettle and Fire. (Remember, you can use code ‘AGUTSYGIRL’ at checkout to save.)
- Add in any of those gut-healing boosts to your broth (linked above). Herbs, spices, high-quality salts and more will not only boost the flavor, but also the nutritional density. Choose these options for only some of your servings. The rest should just be plain broth with salt, if desired.
- You can have other liquids in addition to the bone broth during the fast. Stick with non-caffeinated beverages like tea, especially if you are dealing with stomach ulcers.
- If you do have other beverages, just remember -> no dairy during the fast.
- Because this is a fast, consume the broths within an 8-10 hour window, this means for 14-16 hours only water or tea to support intermittent fasting with calorie-free hydration.
What a Day of Bone Broth Fasting Looks Like
Here is the exact way I’d go about a day during bone broth fasting:
7-8am: 16oz homemade Beef Bone Broth with salt + l-Glutamine + the IGG immune boost + fresh-squeezed lemon, 8oz hot water, 8oz room temperature water with lemon
10-11am: caffeine-free beverage of choice (I’d choose something from THIS list)
1-2pm: 16oz homemade Chicken Bone Broth with salt + collagen + turmeric and ginger, 8oz hot water, 8oz room temperature water with lemon
5-6pm: 16oz “other” Bone Broth (I’d have the Immunity Pack handy and choose whatever I was in the mood for), 8oz hot water, 8oz room temperature water with lemon
- I like the “other” option because it gives variety. I once did a fast where I had the exact same shake, 3 times per day with nothing else other than water. By the time the fast was done, I was appalled by just the thought of the shake. The more variety you can include, the better off you’ll be.
- If I felt hungry during the “off” times, I’d have more broth and add “fillers” to the broth like: coconut oil, olive oil, or Ghee butter.
- More than anything, I’d listen to my body. If something felt really off, then I would stop the fast ASAP.
- Personally, if I was really hungry, then I’d sip and enjoy as much broth with fat per “meal” and then continue letting my digestive system rest for at least 90-120 minutes (remember, keep loving on the MMC action).
- By ending the broths at 6pm and not consuming them again until at least 7am the next day, I am getting a full 13 hours fast. As a woman, I believe this is optimal time. Remember, if you work with your doctor, you can do more or less than that.
Doing this type of fast, like every single other fast and/or diet protocol, is not for everyone. Read the Dr. Axe post I linked to from above for some groups of people this would not be helpful for.
Because you are a woman, I also want to emphasize the idea that your “window” is likely to look different than the general recommendations.
14-16 hour total fast can be taxing, especially if you have any thyroid concerns. If you have gotten the okay from your doctor to do a bone broth fast, I might suggest that your timing looks like this:
- consume broths within a 10-12 hour window
- fast with water or tea for the other 12-14 hours
Lifestyle Support for Fasting
During this fast, you should plan to have a different schedule than you might otherwise.
The point of it is truly to rest and digest, so while participating in a fast like this, you should rest and digest your entire life.
Here are some things I’d recommend:
- Skip the gym. For sure during this fast, you should consider skipping the gym and any/all high-intensity workouts. Gentle walks, yoga and stretches, however, will be good for the fasting period.
- Re-read my post on the parasympathetic vs sympathetic state [HERE]. Keep yourself in the parasympathetic as much as possible.
- Practice deep breathing, journaling, meditation, prayer, or whatever else you need for ultimate comfort, introspection, and zen.
- Sleep and rest. Nothing like sleep for rejuvenating your body and cellular turnover. The benefits of this fast will be negated if you’re running (literally, too!) on 5 hours of sleep. Give yourself permission to rest during these few days.
Have you ever tried a fast like this? What was your experience with it?
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You will heal. I will help.