Bone Broth: Is It Beneficial for Athletes?

With the rise in popularity of Paleolithic diets, we have seen the rebirth of bone broth. Although this may be a new concept for many, bone broth has been around for centuries. Dating back in time (don’t ask me the exact date because I couldn’t find it), humans have been boiling up broths in their caves and kitchens to nourish themselves, as well as others. Broths being touted for reducing inflammation and arthritis pain, healing wounds, and helping the sick get well, is not a new concept either. But is bone broth really the cure-all superfood we might be missing in our diet?


Bone broth next regular broth opitions

Shoulder-to-shoulder, you’ll easily find prepared bone broth lined up neatly next to the other broth options at your local grocer. The addition of bone broth products in pill and powder have also been added to the arsenal of products on the shelves. Trendy restaurants have also taken to the hype and are offering bone broth on their menus. 

Making Bone Broth

For the amateur home chef, making your own bone broth is really quite simple. Albeit, there is no one standard recipe to make bone broth, it’s not hard to create your own version. In a large pot or slow cooker add in knuckles, feet, bones, and or tendons of poultry, beef, and or fish that have been previously cooked. If using raw bones that you will want to roast them before adding them to the pot. Season the broth with various herbs, spices, and vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and onions), cover with water and simmer for 6 – 24 hours. (5)  The bones should be cooked until the nutrients in the bones (such as the proteins, collagen, and gelatin) has leached into the water and the bones have become soft and are easily broken between the fingers.

Try Elevated’s Bone Broth and Navy Bean Soup

Nutrition of Bone Broth

Since there is no “master recipe” to make bone broth, the nutrition content of it can vary widely depending on the bones you use, how long you cook them, and any additional ingredients that are added into the broth. In Table 1. you can see the various nutrient contents of the different broths available.

Table 1. Comparison of sodium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus-based additives content of various bone broths. (1)

Product Item Name
(240 mL Unless Noted)
Sodium (mg)Protein (g)Potassium (mg)Phosphorus-based Additives
Bare Bones (Medford, OR)9013N/ANo
Kettle & Fire (San Francisco, CA)24010N/ANo
Kitchen Accomplice Organic (condensed, 24 g; Akron, OH)4704340No
Kitchen Basics (McCormick, Sparks, MD)38010470No
LonoLife (Oceanside, CA)5848N/ANo
McCormick (Sparks, MD)37910470No
Pacific (Tualatin, OR)969N/ANo
Sam’s Choice Organic (Walmart, Bentonville, AR)549729No

According to the USDA Nutrient Database Bone Broth has 19 mg calcium (<1%), 4.7 mg vitamin C (<1%), and 3000 IU vitamin A (60%). Again, keep in mind that these values can vary depending on the type and how broth has been prepared. Granted there are nutrients in the broth, you should continue to include a variety of foods from all food groups to meet your nutrition need.

In regards to protein, “on average, chicken bone broth provides an additional 8.8 grams of protein over regular chicken broth (table 2).” (1)  This is a very useful swap for athlete’s to help them meet their higher protein needs and support their workout program. The dose of protein also comes with 240 mL of fluids which is a great way to rehydrate after working out, especially in the winter when thirst levels are much lower than in the summer.

Table 2.  Comparison in protein content in chicken bone broth versus chicken broth. (1)

Chicken Bone Broth (240 mL)Protein (g)Chicken Broth (240 mL)Protein (g)
Sam’s Choice Organic (Walmart, Bentonville, AR)7College Inn (Del Monte Foods, Pittsburgh, PA)0
LonoLife (Oceanside, CA)8ShopRite (Edison, NJ)1
Pacific (Tualatin, OR)9Great Value (Walmart, Bentonville, AR)1
Kettle & Fire (San Francisco, CA)10Imagine (Hain Celestial, New Hyde Park, NY)1.01
McCormick (Sparks, MD)10365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods, Austin, TX)1.01
Bare Bones (Medford, OR)13Simple Truth Organic (The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, OH)1.01
Average9.5 gAverage0.67 g

Along with the extra fluids, bone broth is a good source of sodium and can be a welcome addition to those training long distances and or extended periods of times. In Ironman Triathlons bone broth is often served towards the end of the race during the run portion. It’s common for the athletes to fatigue of sweet flavored sports drinks, Gu’s, and gels during long workouts. In need of fluids and sodium to balance out electrolytes and stay hydrated, savory bone broth can be a great option for those extra long days when you need to shake things up. (2)

Can it Support Joint Health?

Bone broth can be a good source of collagen which is a major building block of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and even blood vessels. All of which are essential for athletes to be able to perform well.  Research has shown that collagen supplementation can improve joint pain, preserve cartilage, potentially increase bone density and  have a slight anti-inflammatory effect. (3, 6) The potential to alleviate joint pain can be a welcomed option by long distance runners or other high impact sport athletes. Although bone broth is a good source of collagen, this does not mean that all of the amino acids consumed from the broth will be made into collagen in your body. 

Immunity Booster?

Homemade chicken noodle soup has traditionally been a staple for when we are feeling under the weather. This go-to staple may be more effective than you previously thought. Bone broth, used to make homemade chicken noodle soup, has some anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting effects in the body. According to Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, writer for Cooking Light, “studies suggest that consuming chicken soup reduced mucus better than other hot liquids and inhibited white blood cells associated with inflammation.”(5) If you have been feeling under the weather, having a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup is a great way to helping you feel better!

Incorporate bone broth into your favorite broth soups or sip on it solo.

Should You Include Bone Broth In Your Routine?

Bone broth can warm you up in the winter, add a protein boost to your diet, and act as a soup base so you incorporate more vegetables in your diet. Is it a cure-all superfood though? Not necessarily. But with the potential to support joint health and boost your immune system, bone broth can definitely be a part of your healthful eating pattern. I encourage you to try making it yourself to be able to experience fresh homemade chicken noodle soup and have a waste free kitchen!

Looking to really step up your game? Schedule a Nutrition Consultation with Elle Baker, MS, RDN, LDN and she will create a personalized program for you to help you to achieve your health and performance goals!


References

  1. A Sip Above the Rest…Is Bone Broth All Its Boiled up to Be? Gimbar, MichelleJournal of Renal Nutrition , Volume 27 , Issue 6 , e39 – e40
  2. Emery L. The Athlete’s Guide to Bone Broth Soup. Outside. https://www.outsideonline.com/1928791/athletes-guide-bone-broth-soup. Updated Jan. 22, 2015. Accessed Dec. 12, 2018. 
  3. Kristine L. Clark, Wayne Sebastianelli, Klaus R. Flechsenhar, Douglas F. Aukermann, Felix Meza, Roberta L. Millard, John R. Deitch, Paul S. Sherbondy & Ann Albert (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain, Current Medical Research and Opinion, 24:5, 1485-1496, DOI: 10.1185/030079908X2919672015. https://www.outsideonline.com/1928791/athletes-guide-bone-broth-soup
  4. Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis. NIH. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/glucosaminechondroitin. Last updated November 2014. 
  5. Wiliams C. Bone Broth: Superfood Cure-All or Overhyped Hot Soup? Cooking Light.  https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/is-bone-broth-healthy-for-you-diet. Posted January 5, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2018.
  6. Monro J, Leon R, Puri B. The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets. Med Hypotheses [serial online]. 2013;80:389-390. Available at: ScienceDirect, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 16, 2017.

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