Bone Broth is Anti-Ketogenic


As many of my readers know, I am a huge fan of bone broth. I have been drinking it almost everyday since I began my Zero Carb journey 9 months ago. I found it extremely helpful during the adaptation phase while my body was getting used to an all-meat diet. However, I recently made some changes in my Zero Carb diet. I decided to decrease protein and increase fat in an effort to create a Ketogenic version of a Zero Carb diet. But, I continued to drink bone broth while making these changes.

While I was successful in lowering my fasting blood glucose and increasing my fasting blood ketones, the changes were only moderate. I was now in nutritional ketosis, but at a very low level.Then, I decided to skip the bone broth for a few days, and the effect on both my glucose and ketones was quite dramatic. After only one day without bone broth, my fasting blood glucose decreased from 85-95 mg/dL to 65-75 mg/dL, and my fasting blood ketones increased from 0.9-2.4 mmol/L to 4.8-6.5 mmol/L.

I must admit that this was a very unexpected and shocking discovery. It was also very disappointing because I truly do LOVE bone broth. However, upon further investigation, it was not so surprising. Bone broth contains high amounts of the amino acid glutamine and, apparently, glutamine can easily be converted into glucose.It is for this reason that Dr. Thomas Seyfried, author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, recommends limiting glutamine, as well as carbohydrates, to people following a Ketogenic diet for cancer management. Cancer cells can use glutamine for fuel just as easily as they can use glucose from carbohydrates.

Bone broth has many wonderful healing properties, but it definitely inhibits the production of ketones. Many people choose to drink bone broth during both short and long fasts, but the powerful anti-ketotic effects of bone broth are likely to be highly counter-productive. One of primary benefits of fasting is its ability to lower blood insulin levels, and drinking bone broth during a fast may significantly reduce this benefit. So, if ketones are more important to you than the nutritional components present in bone broth, then you will definitely need to think twice before imbibing bone broth.


After I originally published this article, I forwarded it to a few of the Ketogenic experts to get their response. Jimmy Moore’s comment was that a person would have to be drinking “gargantuan” amounts of bone broth to have it affect the blood sugar and ketone levels this way.

So, I decided I should clarify that I was drinking 1 quart per day which I do not consider to be a “gargantuan” amount. It is certainly possible that drinking  only 1-2 cups per day would have had less of an impact, but I don’t think you can state that categorically without actually testing it. According to Kaayla Daniel, author of Nourishing Broth, 1 cup of chicken bone broth contains 1,000 mg of glutamine.

My whole point with this post is to bring awareness to the fact that bone broth may not be as innocuous as many people so blythly assume. If you are including it as part of your Ketogenic diet, or while fasting, you would be wise -in my humble opinion – to test its impact on your personal fasting blood glucose and ketone levels.


68 thoughts on “Bone Broth is Anti-Ketogenic

  1. That is fascinating. I too enjoy bone broth. Good to know that I shouldn’t over do it and to be mindful as to where I am at on any giving day in term of ketosis. Thank you for such valuable information.


  2. Great information, Esmee. Thanks for sharing.

    How do you feel now that your ketones are higher? More energetic? Less hungry? I’d be curious to know if you notice any change (good or bad) especially since you can compare keto to zero carb.


    • Yes, Valerie, I definitely feel better. Less Hungary and more energy. I am really quite amazed at the difference. The higher the ketones, the more your brain uses them. Once you get above 3.0 mmol/L, over 70% of your brain is running on ketones. So my brain is much calmer and more focused also.


      • This is so helpful since I am just getting started on the keto diet. I have also studied it for quite some time now but it took time to rap my mind around this way of living.


  3. We are all individuals. The same yet different. Some people can smoke and drink everyday and live to be over 90. Other’s like Jim Fixx can run and die before 55. Cie la vie! So our own unique genetics is the main determinant to how long we live. (of course living and enjoying is the main thing) Aside from that it is what we eat mostly and the diet we should all strive to approximate should be quite obviously the one we evolved on for over two and a half million years. My own genetics appear to be better than average as all my parents etc.. lived old and my mother is still going strong @ 88 and she doesn’t eat low-carb. Yet she’s 5’4 and 108LBs. I believe the main thing is to eat absolutely no starches or grains and then keep your carbs to under 50 and under 20 for endomorphs and others predisposed to gaining weight easily. My HDL is 72 and my triglycerides are 36 and my fasting blood glucose was last physical 82 (not great but not too bad either) I exercise quite vigorously and so burn off insulin pretty well.

    If I do ever get any form of cancer I will eschew any of “white man’s medicine”/ treatment. My treatment will be a strict water fast and then we will have a contest me and the cancer. I will only consume water until the cancer withers and dies or I do.

    We must also remember I believe to make sure we are enjoying our lives because we don’t live forever regardless what we do. So whatever works for you, the individual and you are happy by all means drive on.

    Good Luck and Regards, Carl

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are excellent observations, Esmee. Thank you for doing the work, and posting your observations. I just don’t know if I could prick my fingers like that, but I’m glad you did.


  5. The trick to minimizing the glutamine content of bone broth is to minimize the simmer time. Glutamine content increases in bone broth with increased simmer time. From whole raw chicken to bone broth should take no more than a few short hours—as opposed to overnight or longer. This is advisable not only from a ketogenic standpoint but also from the standpoint of those with epilepsies and cancer. ~ Nora G.


  6. Hi Jeff. Wondering if you are interested in experimenting with either turmeric or alcohol as a supplement to bone broth, as both are reported to interfere with gluconeogenesis. I take a minimal dose of alcohol and turmeric in the morning on rising (yes, I know it sounds like an alcoholic’s regimen, but it’s really only a measured tablespoon of whiskey and it helps to chase the cod liver oil taste out of my mouth I don’t drink at all outside of that)


      • I am not sure that is true because it is the high amount of free glutamine in the broth that is the problem. But either way, it is not an option for me because I cannot consume any rendered fats, as they make me very nauseated. Thanks for the idea though.


  7. Esmee, I’m so sorry for my previous reply to this post. I just found this blog today by searching for Jeff based upon a recent post of his on Facebook, and thought I’d found a blog that belonged to him. This was the first post I read after his personal story. I’m just now realizing that I addressed Jeff in my previous reply and this is your blog and your post!

    No slight intended. You are on my RSS feed now and I will forevermore be a dedicated reader.

    – Mac


    • No problem, Mac.

      To answer your questions, I do not do well with alcohol. It makes my blood sugar unstable for several days after consuming it. And I also do not do well with any plant foods, including spices, because they all have salicylates in them.


  8. I’m sensitive to glutamic acid, it acts like an excititoxin in my brain. I suspect it converts to harmful glutamate for some unknown reason.


  9. A very interesting read. I have been in ketosis for quite a while now, not drinking bone broth but have recently taken up consuming Great Lakes gelatin in my morning coffee. Would you say the same applies for gelatin as what you have described above?


  10. Hi Esmee, I’m just wondering how you’re doing. Do you have any symptoms of electrolyte imbalance now that you no longer drink bone broth? I’m very curious if high fat intake negates the needs for supplemental electrolytes. Thanks.


    • I personally seem to require more potassium than most people. I believe this is a result of celiac disease. Celiac damages the villi of the small intestine and causes mineral absorption problems. Consequently, if I do not take supplemental potassium, my serum potassium will become dangerously low. I have also experimented with eliminating salt from my duet, but again my serum sodium and chloride both fell too low. My serum calcium is also low and I am getting my magnesium tested today. Please keep in mind that I am not your typical case. Most people eating a ZC diet do not have these absorption issues and do just fine on meat only. Thanks for your question.


  11. Esmee,

    Thank you for an informative post about bone broth. I have been strictly zero carb for 6 1/2 years without deviation. I feel great and much better than when I ate a mixed diet. About a year ago, I started to consume about one cup of homemade beef broth each day. I would poach two eggs in the broth and have that for my breakfast.

    To make the broth, I used beef bones and cow’s feet and let it simmer for at least 24 hours. The cow’s feet give off a lot of collagen (if that is the right word for the gel that forms when the broth cools in the fridge).

    Reading your post was certainly a revelation. From today, I will cut out the bone broth and observe the differences, if any. I like soup with poached eggs, so I’ll come up with something else to satisfy that desire.

    As a long-time zero-carber, I had thought that there was little new to learn, but that obviously is not the case. Thank you.

    P.S. – I was one of the early members of the ZIOH forum that Charles Washington started in 2008.



      • Yes, that makes sense. Until I do some research and buy a ketone meter, I will cut down on the bone broth. In fact, a few days ago, I made bone broth using just cut up bones. I did not use cow’s feet and there was no cartilage, so the broth does not gel up like it used to. However, the broth satisfies my desire for taste with the poached eggs. I’ll probably stick with this way of making broth because I mainly want the broth for taste and for something hot in the morning. I eat about 1 3/4 lbs of beef a day, so I’m probably getting all the nutrients that I require from that. Speaking of which, as I mentioned above, I’ve been eating this way for 6 1/2 years. I do not take supplements. And here I am still alive. According to the conventional (non)wisdom, I should have come down with scurvy and died a long time ago! My overall cholesterol went up, but that means nothing because my HDL skyrocketed to 114 and my triglycerides fell to 34. Zero carb is amazing. It’s unfortunate that people are so indoctrinated into the typical way of eating.


  12. Great Read!! I just started hearing about this diet and thought I would try it. Just got back from the store and purchased 2 packages of beef bones for broth as I have been making broth for 3 days now. After I get back from vacation I will do this way of living in earnest – thanks again!! I listened to the Fat Summit with Dr. Mark Hyman and some of the Dr.s said to make this broth so as I am learning don’t listen to everything you read and hear!!!


  13. Thank you for this post. I have also noticed that drinking broth increases my blood sugar reading and my ketones. I test the ketones with the Precision Xtra. When I just have water, coffee and tea, my BS goes down considerably and my ketones go way up. I couldn’t figure this out until I read your article. I thought maybe it was because I made the broth with some carrots, which I eliminated. Your explanation makes more sense. I started a 4 day fast today and will try doing it without the broth this time. Thanks again, Dana


      • I am on day #2 and my bs is the lowest it has been since I quit metformin in November! It was 89 this morning and my ketones were 0.6. My ketones tend to be little lower in the mornings and then they rise during the day on a fast. Ketones were 1.3 last night.

        Compare this to my last 4 day fast on May 2-5, on Day #2 bs was 106 and ketones were 0.5 in the morning and 1.2 in the afternoon.

        I will end the fast on Thursday and I will update you then. Thanks!


          • Day 3 and the difference is amazing. This time my bs has ranged from 69 [just now] to 89, ketones from 1.3 to 5.8 [just now].

            The last fast earlier this month:
            BS 80 to 114 and the highest ketone level was 1.2. The highest level I reached was 1.2 and never got higher than that.

            I know now that the broth has a huge effect on me. I suspected it was coffee but now I know it is the broth. I have been drinking coffee the last 3 days in the usual amount.

            Liked by 1 person

      • p.s. Like you, I am disappointed, but relieved, to discover this about bone broth. After alot of trial and error I have become a PRO at making turkey and beef bone broth! I have a freezer of home made, delicious bone broth…


  14. This may have been mentioned, I haven’t checked all comments, but glutamine causes gluconeogenesis so that may explain why it affects Ketosis. Whenever I took a glutamine powder supplement for gut healing, I noticed I would “feel” less Ketogenic and I knew it was affecting me adversely. Glycine (which is also in bone broth) also has this effect I believe. Apparently some amino acids are just more easily converted to glucose.


  15. Hello, I am new to ketogenic and am trying to reverse insulin resistance I guess you could say. My question after reading the article is what are your thoughts on cooking bone broth in a pressure cooker for just two hours, I also have histamine intolerance and cooking it this way I don’t get a negative reaction. Would a quick cook, fairly fast time from cooking to freezer yield less glutamine? There is still quite a bit of cartilage left on the bones after two hours of high pressure cooking, but my broth does gel every time. Also what about grass fed collagen, high glutamine? Thanks, love the article.


    • I am pretty sure collagen is high in glutamine too, but the company can give you an analysis.

      I cooked both chicken and turkey parts in a pressure cooker and they took only 2 & 3 hours to dissolve the cartilage completely. Beef bones would take longer. Yes, I think pressure cooking produces less histamines than long slow crock pot cooking.


  16. True!! I’m 2 months into keto and thought there was something seriously wrong with me, since my blood sugar spikes to 100+ after drinking powdered gelatin or collogen in tea with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Then I’m down to 66 after my next meal. Cut this out and my blood sugar stays stable. I appreciate your post and supporting data…. very encouraging and I’m back on track thanks to you!


  17. I cannot understand this, even if you drink a quart, that should mean at most 4 grams of glutamine and at a 100% conversion to glucose that is 4grams of glucose. How can something so miniscule make that much change in blood glucose and ketone generation? and most proteins have glutamine so…

    “1.1. Sources and Synthesis

    Glutamine is found in high amounts in most meat and animal products, as well as any dairy product or by-product such as Whey Protein or Casein Protein protein.[1] Levels of glutamine in various foods range from:

    Beef at 4.7% protein[1] where meat in general fluctuates between 4.4% and 4.8%[1]” this is taken from

    So beef per 100g has around 25g protein of which 4.7% glutamine gives 1.175 glutamine… So a cup of broth has less glutamine right?


  18. I have type 1 diabetes and have been puzzled as to why bone broth raises my blood sugar when it contains no carbs. I’ve been drinking a cup on its own (yup, just a cup) first thing and I’ve noticed that it raises my blood sugar substantially. I have to balance it with as much insulin as I used to take for a cup of white basmati rice or a banana. I have had this response several times now, and I consumed no other foods or drink, so I know it’s the broth. I make the broth myself, so I know it contains only water, vinegar and organic, grass-fed bones, and I’ve been mystified as to why my blood sugar shoots up. Thanks for this information!


  19. When do you test your ketones, and what is your reason behind it? Do you do it at the same time of day… I can’t decide when it is best. Is fasting level in the morning the most important? I notice I can be pretty low, like .5-.6 in the morning. But it usually increases once i’ve been awake a couple hours and if i eat some fat… wondering if I should be shooting for a higher fasting level still.


    • I test in the morning in a fasted state. But you can also test prior to a second meal leather in the day if you eat more than once a day. There is no point in testing too close to a meal after eating because ketones may be lower. Strips are expensive, so I rarely test now unless I am trying and experiment and want to see how it is affecting me.


  20. Hello, I am newly diagnosed Type 1 (34 yr old) and healing my gut. Bone broth does seem to increase my blood sugars. I enjoyed reading this bc I couldn’t figure out why I was going up. Great website!


  21. Glutamine is an essential amino acid, from what I’ve read, but together with glucose can feed cancer cells. A true ketogenic diet reduces glucose levels. Is it possible bone broth in isolation is therefore not a true concern, even with the presence of glutamine, when one is in ketosis?

    Also, some people add carbs to their bone broth through vegetables used just for flavoring purposes, however, even onions and garlic will add carbs. I am switching from high carb regimen (raw/juicing) to a ketogenic diet, and have made my broth with no herbs or vegetables at all.


  22. Pingback: My Story (2016) | Jahn Tang

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