Including broth in your diet may help with weight loss -- especially if you consume it at certain times -- but it isn't a weight-loss miracle food. Broth shouldn't be the only food you eat, but it can be part of a balanced, reduced-calorie diet for weight loss. Check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet to make sure it is safe for you.
Broth Nutrition and Calories
Broth recipes can vary widely, so the nutrition facts also vary, based on the ingredients. Ready-to-serve chicken broth has about 15 calories per cup and only trace amounts of most nutrients, with the exception of sodium. Commercially prepared broths tend to be quite high in sodium, with a cup of chicken broth providing about 924 milligrams of the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day. Homemade broth can be more nutritious, especially if you limit or omit the salt.
Broth and Weight Loss
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Consuming soups, such as broth, before meals can help you feel full and can reduce hunger so that you eat fewer calories during the day. Thus, eating broth can be helpful for weight loss, if you plan your meal times well. One reason is that broth is low in the number of calories per gram, which is also known as energy density. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eating more foods that are low in energy density for weight loss, because these foods help fill the stomach without adding a lot of calories, making it easier to eat smaller quantities of the foods that have a higher energy density.
Be sure to look for a broth that doesn't contain monosodium glutamate, as MSG may not be helpful for weight loss. A study published in Obesity in 2008 found that monosodium glutamate intake is associated with an increased risk of becoming overweight.
As Part of a Balanced, Reduced-Calorie Diet
Simply adding broth to your diet isn't likely to bring about much weight loss, unless you make other dietary changes, as well. To lose weight, you'll need to cut calories. Reducing your daily intake by 500 calories will result in a pound of weight loss per week. Start lunch and dinner with broth or a salad, both of which are low in energy density, and focus on eating nutritious whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein. Limit highly processed foods and foods that are high in fat or sugar, as these foods are high in calories but aren't very filling or nutritious. Include sources of protein and fiber in each meal or snack; these nutrients help with satiety and make it easier to cut calories.
Bone Broth Diet
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The Bone Broth Diet, created by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, claims to help people lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days, through the use of bone broth, intermittent fasting and resistance training. Dr. Petrucci recommends an anti-inflammatory, ketogenic diet that includes sources of probiotics. The evidence for this diet is limited, however, as most of the potential weight loss likely stems from the fact that the diet is very low in carbohydrates and involves intermittent fasting. A diet containing just 4 percent carbohydrates was better for weight loss than a low-carb diet containing 35 percent carbohydrates, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008.
Clear Liquid Diet Use
Broth is one of the foods you can eat on the clear liquid diet. This isn't a diet meant for weight loss, however, although it is very low in calories. It is prescribed by doctors before certain types of surgery, after surgery and in some cases when people are sick to their stomachs and having trouble keeping food down. You shouldn't stay on it for more than three or four days, because it isn't high enough in essential nutrients to be safe for longer than this, notes MedlinePlus.
Potential Broth Diet Considerations
Broth doesn't have enough calories or essential nutrients on its own, and consuming too few calories can cause your metabolism to slow down. Men should consume at least 1,800 calories per day, and women need at least 1,200 calories per day.
Broth made with bones may be contaminated with lead, according to a study published in Medical Hypotheses in April 2013. This is particularly true with broths made from the cartilage, bones and skin of cooked chicken.
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- Physiology & Behavior: Soup and Satiety
- Medical Hypotheses: The Risk of Lead Contamination in Bone Broth Diets
- Nutrition Journal: Intermittent Fasting Combined With Calorie Restriction Is Effective for Weight Loss and Cardio-Protection in Obese Women
- MedlinePlus: Diet - Clear Liquid
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Forbes: Is Broth the Next Super Food?
- Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Diet: Kellyann Petrucci
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism Is Modifiable With the Right Lifestyle Changes
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of a High-Protein Ketogenic Diet on Hunger, Appetite, and Weight Loss in Obese Men Feeding ad Libitum
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.