Bone broth is an established superfood, and multiple diets have embraced its healing properties. The keto diet, short for ketogenic, is no exception. So how does bone broth fit into a Keto food plan? Let’s dive in.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a dietary plan that aims to get the body into ketosis, which is the process of burning fat as fuel instead of glucose. Keto eating requires extremely low carbs because dietary carbs get converted into glucose and are then burned as energy or stored as glycogen in the liver for later energy. When the body know it can rely on carbohydrates as its source of energy, it won’t readily turn to fat stores.
Proponents of the ketogenic diet say that it’s a way to lose excess body fat without starvation, and it’s also used therapeutically for conditions like diabetes where glucose, insulin, and carbohydrate balance need to be carefully monitored.
The principles of the ketogenic diet have been around for thousands of years, but it was first used as a medical treatment in the 1920s. Initially used to address pediatric epilepsy, the modern viewpoint on keto living has shifted substantially.
What is Keto Beneficial for?
These days, while you will still find some adults following ketogenic diets to address seizures and epilepsy, there is a larger and broader following in much the same way that the Paleo diet has gained traction for being therapeutic for a number of chronic and life-altering conditions.
- Weight loss: The ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss in a number of possible ways, although for some it does not promote weight loss at all. As with most dietary programs, bio-individuality does play a role in success levels. Keto reduces appetite due to the removal of sugars and starchy foods, leading to a reduction in calories consumed. Living in a state of ketosis also burns fat for fuel, resulting in a reduction of fat stores, and greater fat loss. Some proponents and research indicate that ketosis can increase a person’s metabolism, causing more calories to be expended in addition to those being burned for energy.
- Heart health: While dietary cholesterol has gotten the brunt of the blame for the increase in LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular problems, recent research has proven that carbohydrates and sugar has a more deleterious impact on the heart and arteries. Ketosis removes this widespread risk factor that can be found in the form of starchy and refined carbs, and for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease, it can be therapeutic and even preventive.
- Diabetes: In most who develop Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is a primary factor, and one that (in many cases) can be trained out of the body. By reestablishing a healthy insulin response and glucose balance, type 2 diabetes can often be nutritionally reversed. With insulin resistance, cells become inefficient in their ability to take in glucose that is circulating in the bloodstream. As a result, the excess glucose is deferred to the liver and stored as fat. Insulin resistance can also be thought of as “carbohydrate sensitivity” and, much like other foods that one becomes sensitized to and then avoids, the body can reset and address the negative conditions developed as a direct result of repeated exposure to sensitizing foods. Keto can be a short-term diet aimed at helping someone reverse glucose or insulin imbalance problems, or it can be safely used as a long-term therapeutic dietary protocol.
Is Bone Broth Keto Friendly?
The ketogenic diet is super ultra low carb. Because every person is different, there are no one size fits all caloric or macronutrient rules for getting into ketosis. How many carbs you’re allotted each day will depend on factors like
- Your current weight
- Your height
- Your gender
- Your fitness and activity levels
Athletes, for example, who are routinely training will require more carbs than someone who is primarily sedentary. Even though ketogenic eating is low carb, it does require some level of carbs, even if they’re only 5% of your food intake.
If you’re not already a keto pro, you can calculate your own personal macronutrient ratios by using this ketogenic calculator.
When you look at the nutrient profile of bone broth, you will see the following (per cup):
- Fats: 0 grams
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
As a 5’3” low-active woman (because let’s face it, an hour of yoga doesn’t present the same nutritional requirements as an hour of, say, CrossFit), if I were following a ketogenic diet, then I would be aiming for 120 grams of fat per day and 70 grams of protein, but less than 30 grams of carbs. While some may delight in consuming that much protein, that’s a hard macronutrient for me to regularly enforce. Because bone broth contains protein, it can be a great alternative for keto diet eaters if they want something other than frequent legs of lamb or protein shakes.
So, yes, bone broth is absolutely keto friendly, and it can actually help ketogenic dieters to level up their nutrient game. One of the criticisms of ketosis is that because it so severely restricts carbohydrates, that means that it also restricts nutrient rich vegetables and fruits. Bone broth is a nutrient rich food, albeit different nutrients than leafy greens provide, but nourishing all the same.
Regardless of the primary reason that someone is following a ketogenic diet, gut health can easily rise to the top of the list. Bone broth is a nutritionally sound food for gut health, and because it’s very low in carbs and moderately high in protein, it is perfectly compatible with any ketogenic diet.
Who Should Not Eat a Ketogenic Diet
A word of caution: if you’re starting a new dietary plan, especially if it’s for a condition or disease, you need a professional to help you weigh your options. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are notable times of extreme physical vulnerability, and unless medically prescribed by a doctor, the ketogenic diet would not be healthy. Likewise, certain conditions respond better to higher carb and lower protein diets (like certain hormone imbalances or autoimmune diseases), so there is still the matter of considering your individual circumstances above all else.
Bone broth, however, seems to be showing up as a consistent factor among many different dietary viewpoints as a healing, therapeutic superfood. Whether you’re following a Keto diet, a Paleo diet, an ancestral diet, or just a real food diet, bone broth is beneficial for chronic conditions and can also serve to nourish the body preventively against a number of diseases and conditions.
Aimee McNew is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, infertility, and autoimmunity. Her first book, The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s, releases Oct 2016.