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Does bone broth reduce belly fat?


Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, can be extremely hard to lose. It tends to accumulate around the abdominal organs and is associated with several health risks like type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1). Many people try different diets and exercises to reduce belly fat, but the results are often temporary. This has led to an interest in more sustainable solutions like bone broth. But can drinking bone broth really help reduce belly fat? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue in water for several hours. This long cooking time helps extract the collagen, nutrients, and minerals from the bones into the water (2). Bone broth can be made from the bones of beef, chicken, turkey, or fish. It has recently gained popularity as a health food due to its high collagen content.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and provides the structure for connective tissues like skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones (3). Collagen production starts declining around age 25, leading to joint discomfort and skin aging over time (4). Consuming collagen from bone broth may help counteract this natural decline.

How could bone broth help reduce belly fat?

There are a few potential ways that bone broth may help reduce belly fat:

Increasing satiety: The gelatin in bone broth comes from collagen and has been shown to increase feelings of fullness. This can help reduce calorie intake and prevent overeating (5).

Supporting metabolism: The amino acids in collagen may help increase lean muscle mass. More muscle leads to a higher resting metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories throughout the day (6).

Reducing inflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked to visceral fat accumulation. The anti-inflammatory amino acids in bone broth like glycine may help reduce inflammation (7).

Improving gut health: The collagen in bone broth can help repair a damaged gut lining and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This leads to better gut health and reduced leptin resistance which makes it easier to lose weight (8).

So in theory, regularly drinking bone broth may support fat loss through several mechanisms. But what does the research say?

What does the research say?

There is limited direct research on bone broth and belly fat loss in humans. However, a few animal studies provide some promising clues:

Study 1

In one study, obese rats were given collagen hydrolysate supplements for 6 weeks. The collagen supplemented rats lost a significant amount of body fat, including visceral fat, compared to rats fed no collagen (9).

Study 2

Another rat study found that giving obese rats collagen peptides for 8 weeks resulted in less visceral fat accumulation. The collagen also improved blood lipid levels (10).

Study 3

Researchers gave either collagen peptides or whey protein to mice fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks. The collagen peptides were more effective at preventing fat deposition and preserving lean muscle mass compared to whey protein (11).

So these animal studies show collagen supplements can potentially reduce visceral fat accumulation and support fat loss. Since bone broth provides a rich source of collagen, it’s reasonable to hypothesize that bone broth could provide similar fat loss benefits in humans. But more direct clinical trials are still needed.

Potential benefits of bone broth for belly fat loss

Based on the potential mechanisms and preliminary animal research, here are some of the top ways bone broth may help reduce belly fat when consumed regularly:

1. Increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake

Multiple studies show that gelatin can increase feelings of fullness and decrease hunger. For example, in one study, people who took gelatin supplements ate 20% less at a meal compared to people given a placebo (12).

The glycine in collagen has also been shown to reduce food intake and help control appetite (13).

By helping you feel fuller for longer, bone broth can reduce overall calorie intake which supports belly fat loss over time.

2. Supporting metabolism through muscle growth

The amino acids in collagen, including glycine and proline, play an important role in building lean muscle mass (14).

Having more metabolism-boosting muscle mass makes it easier to lose weight compared to only trying to lose fat. One study found that women who took collagen supplements for 12 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass and strength compared to the control group (15).

More research is still needed on bone broth specifically, but the amino acid content suggests it can support muscle growth similar to collagen supplements.

3. Reducing inflammation

Chronic inflammation is linked to visceral fat formation and makes weight loss more difficult (16).

The amino acid glycine found abundantly in bone broth has anti-inflammatory properties that may help improve adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance (17).

In one study, women taking glycine supplements for 3 months had significant reductions in inflammatory markers compared to the placebo group (18).

4. Improving gut health

A healthy gut environment plays an important role in metabolism and weight management. The collagen peptides in bone broth can help repair a damaged gut lining and reduce leaky gut, which has been associated with obesity (19).

Bone broth also provides gelatin which may promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium (20).

Improving overall gut health can help support healthy hormone regulation and make it easier to lose stubborn belly fat.

How to incorporate bone broth to reduce belly fat

Here are some tips on how to incorporate bone broth into your routine to maximize the potential belly fat burning benefits:

1. Drink 1 cup daily

Aim for 1 cup of bone broth per day, either on its own as a drink or used as the base for soups or stews. This will provide a good amount of collagen. Drinking it 30-60 mins before meals can help with satiety.

2. Add it to smoothies

For a nutritional boost, use bone broth instead of water when making smoothies. The liquid protein makes the smoothie more filling.

3. Use it in place of oils when cooking

The gelatin in bone broth can lend moisture while sautéing veggies. Substitute broth for some or all oil to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.

4. Make vegetable soup

Homemade soups are a tasty way to get in extra vegetables. Use bone broth as the base and load it up with gut-friendly veggies like onion, garlic, celery, carrots, etc.

5. Try intermittent fasting

Time restricted eating patterns like intermittent fasting can accelerate fat burning. Drink bone broth during the fasted periods to make it easier to stick to.

6. Reduce overall calorie intake

While bone broth can support belly fat loss, you still need an overall calorie deficit to see results on the scale. Focus on reducing portion sizes of high calorie foods in addition to adding bone broth.

Other evidence-based ways to lose belly fat

While bone broth may be beneficial, it’s not a magic bullet. For best results, combine it with other effective strategies like:

Aerobic exercise

Doing cardio like running, cycling, or swimming 3-5 times per week can help burn visceral fat and stop fat from accumulating in the abdominal area (21).

Strength training

In addition to cardio, build strength 2-3 times per week by lifting weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises. Strength training helps keep and build calorie-burning lean muscle mass (22).

High protein diet

Eating adequate protein from foods like eggs, meat, nuts and seeds can make it easier to lose fat instead of muscle when in a calorie deficit (23).

Foods high in soluble fiber

Viscous fibers from foods like oats, beans, vegetables and fruits feed the good gut bacteria and promote fat loss (24).

Get enough sleep

Not getting the recommended 7-9 hours per night is linked to increased visceral fat. Lack of sleep disrupts appetite regulating hormones (25).

Potential side effects and precautions

Bone broth made from quality ingredients is generally safe when consumed in moderation. However, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:

– Avoid broths with high sodium content which can contribute to high blood pressure.
– To reduce calories, choose broth without added oils and skim any surface fat before use.
– Those with food allergies or sensitivities should check the ingredients for potential triggers.
– Make sure broth fully simmers for at least 3-4 hours to break down connective tissue and avoid gut discomfort.
– Use caution with lead-lined slow cookers which can leach lead into broth over long cook times.

As with any new food, start slowly and listen to your body’s response. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or experience reactions.

The bottom line

Belly fat accumulation around the midsection and organs is tied to health risks. While research is still emerging, drinking bone broth may help reduce belly fat in a few ways:

– Collagen peptides increase satiety, leading to reduced calorie intake.
– Amino acids support muscle growth and a faster metabolism.
– Glycine helps lower inflammation associated with belly fat formation.
– Gelatin improves gut health, supporting healthy weight regulation.

However, human data directly linking bone broth to visceral fat loss is still limited. More clinical trials are needed to make definitive conclusions.

For optimal results, incorporate 1 cup of bone broth per day along with other diet and lifestyle strategies like exercise, fiber intake, protein foods and adequate sleep. Bone broth can be a nutritious addition to a comprehensive plan to lose stubborn belly fat and get healthier.