Sports science has certainly improved the ways in which we can get big and strong via technology and supplements. However, we have a tendency to forget what has worked for a very long time. We don’t have to look back thousands of years to find helpful clues.
Long before the term “diet hack” ever existed, there was broth. People used to consume bone broth and stock as a common practice. They recognized its health benefits, convenience, and getting the most out of an animal that had been slaughtered.
I’d argue that we need broth more than ever. Today’s food is lacking in nutrients per calorie. Depleted soils and convenient foods give us less vitamins and minerals. The workouts we love to discuss online tax our body and increase the need for more nutrients.
Bone broth is like natures perfect supplement. It’s actually gaining in popularity recently. With popularity come wild claims, like curing rare diseases. I won’t make those claims, but I do think it can be a wonderful blend of workout nutrition and general health.
Bone broth is full of health giving nutrients. These include: small amounts minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other trace minerals (more if you add vegetables to your broth in the beginning), collagen, gelatin, and amino acids like proline, glycine, glutamine, and alanine.
Collagen and gelatin are a great way to keep your joints healthy and bones strong, especially if you are lifting weights. As a lifter, your body also has increased needs for minerals, which broth can provide.
The amino acid content is interesting, and a topic of debate. Proline, glycine, glutamine and alanine are all considered non essential amino acids. Meaning, your body can make them and it isn’t essential to get from your diet. This is true; however, survival is different from thriving. We want to optimize our body and not stress it.
Proline is involved with cartilage formation. Glycine is needed for blood formation and digestive health, among many other functions. You may have seen glutamine on the supplement shelves. Indeed, glutamine is a wonderful way to help you recover, especially from short term overtraining. Alanine is another amino acid that can help with muscle building.
Even more importantly, however, is the ratio of amino acids. Muscle meats, like red meat, are high in Methionine. While not dangerous alone, some believe that a disproportionately high diet in methionine relative to other amino acids may lead to health problems. True or not, it is hard to argue with balance. Broth is one way to achieve a nice balance of amino acids while giving our bodies extra nutrients without excessive calories. In other words, it is nutrient dense.
The quick answer is 1-2 cups most days, and yes, very easy to make. There are many ways to make broth, and you can get into it as much as you like from a lot of sources. When it comes to food prep, I am as lazy as it comes. I always look for the quickest route to get healthy food.
I occasionally use beef bones I obtain through a local farmer. However, most of my broth comes from rotisserie chickens. You can get a few meals out of the chicken itself. Once the meat is gone, set the bones in a slow cooker, cover with water, add veggies like carrots, onion, and celery. Also add a few teaspoons of vinegar to help leach the minerals. Turn on low, check occasionally to make sure there is enough water, and give it 24-36 hours. A good broth will be like Jello once refrigerated.
Now, once you have the broth, it is up to you how to consume it. You can just drink it hot, if you like. Another option is to buy another chicken, and make chicken soup, and can keep the broth cycle going. I also buy shrimp and add it to the broth along with green onion and have a soup. There are limitless options to choose from in terms of making soup with it.
I previously mentioned that broth can be a part of sports nutrition. While just having broth would help with recovery, there is something else you can do to optimize your workouts. In general, with two hours pre and two hours post workout your meals should include adequate carbohydrate and protein.
Quinoa is a great source of both, as it is a complete protein source. To optimize it further, you can cook your quinoa with broth instead of water. Use the normal 1:2 quinoa to broth ratio, and cook as directed. Better taste and a potent combination for feeling better and looking good.
While there is no miracle food, let’s take a page out of recent history and bring good old fashioned bone broth back. Not only is it an awesome way to get liquid nutrition without too many calories, it is really easy to start implementing into your busy routine.
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