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The difference between bone broth and meat broth or stock.

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One big confusion people have when starting GAPS is the difference between bone broth and meat broth and why and when to consume each.  I’m going to share my understanding of those two things here.

First I have written posts about each kind and you can read them for the how to instructions

Bone Broth

Meat Broth

When you first start GAPS the instructions are to consume Meat Broth.  Dr Campbell-McBride describes how to make meat broth/stock on page 179 of her Gut and Psychology Syndrome book.  It says to cook read meat stock for 3 hours or longer and that the longer you cook it the more good stuff you will get out of the bones and meat and into the stock.  It says to cook chicken stock for 1.5-2 hours.  This is what is commonly referred to as meat broth or meat stock.  It is rich in gelatin and free amino acids from the meat and connective tissues.  It has a wonderful flavor and is very healing to the gut.  It is ideal to consume this at the start of the GAPS diet because of it’s healing qualities.

As you progress on GAPS you may begin to incorporate bone broth.  This basic recipe is taken from pages 122-125 of the revised second edition of Nourishing Traditions which is a sort of cooking bible for people following the Weston A Price Foundation’s guidance for how to eat.  Bone broth has a lot of minerals and is a good replacement for milk in the diet for someone concerned about lack of calcium on a dairy free diet.  The longer cooking times can break down some of the gelatin and so this broth can be less healing to the gut than the meat broth but the increased minerals from the longer cooking times are also very valuable.  

Many come to GAPS already making and using bone broth. They see the instructions to consume lots of broth and so they just think bone broth and keep making it as they always have.  One of the quandaries of healing on the GAPS diet that some find themselves reacting to foods that they have consumed without issues for some time. It seems that sensitivities can be hidden while the diet is detrimental to the body but once the diet is cleaned up and healing begins many sensitivities can be uncovered that were previously obscured. Bone broth is full of minerals and is healthy and an important part of the diet but it may not be ideal for when you first start out on GAPS. Bone broth also has free glutamates. Some people who are sensitive can react to these free glutamates like they do to MSG. Because of this it is prudent to start with meat broth (short cooking time) and progress to bone broth after the first wave of die off is over so that you can evaluate if this is going to be a problem for you.  Some will need to stick with meat broth long term, some will be able to slowly transition to bone broth and some will have no problem jumping right into consuming lots of bone broth. The only way to really know which one you are however is to start out with meat broth. Cooking the bone broth at a very low simmer will minimize the free glutamates but will not prevent them completely.  Many also find that bone broth brings on more die off than meat broth and so must be increased gradually as it is tolerated.  

My family was in the group that could quickly and easily transition to consuming bone broth as well as meat broth. What I do is to make meat broth and bone broth from the same bones.  This way we get the benefits of each kind of broth on a regular basis. First I make the short cooking meat broth. I remove that broth and the cooked meat. Then I put the bones back into the pot, with some apple cider vinegar and fresh water and cook them again, this time for a long time to make bone broth.  I usually add to these bones the ones that I have saves from roasts, steaks and other meats that we cooked and eaten previously. I keep a bag of them in the freezer and add to it after each meal. Each kind of broth has it’s own benefits and flavor. We prefer the meat broth/stock for drinking and bone broth goes into dishes that will hide the flavor somewhat although we will drink it if that is all that is available.  This way we also continue to get the benefits from both kinds of broth to heal our guts and replenish our mineral stores.  

What has your experience been with these two kinds of broth?  Did you have difficulty with one or the other?  Do you prefer the flavor of one over the other?  Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

You can learn more about broth with my ebook Broth: Elixir of Life 



  1. I am very sensitive to MSG and glutamates (they give me migraines). For a while, I was consuming tons of bone broth (1-2 quarts per day by myself) and I was getting migraines all the time. Lately I have been eating gelatin and L-glutamine (an amino acid) to try to get some of benefits of broth without the headaches. I did not know that meat broth has fewer glutamates. I want to try short cooked meat broth, but I am nervous because I can’t do anything but wait it out if I get a migraine. Do you have any resources on the amount of glutamates in the different kinds of broth?

    • I’m sorry I don’t have a resource on that. My understanding is that the longer it is cooked and the higher temp it is cooked at (boiling v/s barely simmering) the more glutamates that are formed. I know that the experience of people on the GAPSHelp yahoo group has been that keeping the broth barely simmering and stopping cooking just a soon as the meat is cooked keeps the gultamates low enough to not cause reactions. Some have to build even this kind of broth up slowly though.

    • Hi Jenna, you may have already tried this, but ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and when I start getting my vision go with the prelude to a migraine, I get some soup or my meal and finely great about 1 inch knob of ginger into it. About ten minutes later my visual disturbance just fades away and I have the mildest headache. With a bit of fresh crushed garlic and coconut oil my soup tastes a bit Thai too – very yummy! I hope it works for you too. :-)

  2. Thanks! I will try some very gently cooked meat broth soon.

  3. Patty, thank you so much for this. Despite the years I’ve been following SCD/GAPS, I never knew there was a difference. I had started my journey with NT so just assumed both names meant the same thing. I need to start making some meat broth. What type of meat or cut of meat do you use?

    • Any meaty cut works for meat broth. It should still have bones in it though. I think I cover that better in my meat broth post linked at the top of this one.

  4. Thanks for the great post, Patty. I wanted to let you know that since I can’t buy from through my own blog, I decided to share the love with the other low oxalate oriented blogs out there. I’m hoping to place a big order this week and I’ll be doing it through your blog. Thanks for the hard work you are putting into helping people heal. I know the commission you’ll get through my order isn’t a huge amount, but I hope it helps you to keep your site up and running.
    Thanks again,

    • Thanks so much Heidi. I also try to “spread the love” when I place Amazon orders.

  5. Well, I guess I really learned something here. I assumed that meat broth was made from meat without any bones, and bone broth was made from meat with bones. So I guess, I’ve been consuming meat broth. Interesting.

    • Gudrun,
      These terms are often confused by people new to GAPS (and some who have done it a long time). You aren’t alone. I didn’t understand either but over time learned and now we consume both for the different benefits of each.

  6. Thanks for clearing that up! I made bone broth the other day to drink, and I can’t say I was a huge fan. I just guzzled it as quickly as possible. Definitely better for cooking. I thought I would like it since I LOVE meat broth, but like you said, totally different creatures.

  7. Thank you so much! I am prepping for my first day on gaps and guess what I’m making…bone broth. I am so glad you explained the diffence. I will be making some meat stock from now on as soon as I finish off this huge pot of stew I just made.

  8. I wish I had read this before starting GAPS. I am very sensitive to glutamates and while I have had bone broth in the past with no issues, eating so much of it in the GAPS diet made me very ill. Luckily, I recognized the symptoms and after three days stopped eating it as I had worsening insomnia, agitation and what I call “brain fizz.” I am still recovering from it and don’t want to risk eating the meat broth, so will just progress with the GAPS minus the broth. It seems like we’re all piecing the diet together from different sources and that there really isn’t a definitive guide out there that is well-organized.

  9. Thank you for this post. I’ve started the SCD, but have been hearing all about the wonders of bone broths, so I recently purchased NT and went to town. Started having the most awful stomach pains, joint pains, constipation, headache, etc… I was completely unprepared for this reaction – thought it was from the SCD diet itself (although I’ve been on it before many years ago with no problems). Two days of internet searching and I could only find vague references to anyone having problems with bone broth – and those were people looking for help. Finally found your site – thank you for posting that.

    My reactions were quite extreme – does the GAPS book go into any detail re: why that might be? I’d hope that – going forward – everyone on the web putting out recipes &/or encouragement to use bone broth would put a disclaimer on it – just as you have.

    Thought I was going crazy having such a reaction to something that everyone seems to rave about. Thanks for putting that out there, and clearing up the confusion between meat broth and bone broth.

    Thank you!

  10. I was on GAPS for about 2 months when I became intolerant to bone broth. I had diarrhea for 10 days straight until I pin pointed it to the broth. As soon as I’d eat the broth my back would become sore and I would have bloating, pain, and diarrhea until it was out of my system. After some reading on the internet, I figured it was due to the high histamine levels in broth. Do glutamates and histamine have anything in common or are they two totally different issues? Thank you for this post.

    Warm regards,

    • They are different issues however the longer you cook the broth the more histamines it will have. Also be careful with fermented foods. Sauerkraut in particular is high histamine till past the 8 week mark and that is only if it is fermented anaerobically. If you ferment in mason jars or other open containers you will have high histamines no matter what. That is one of the reasons I have switched to the pickl-it for all fermenting. Histamines were a real problem for my youngest (and I didn’t even know it.)

      • Interesting notion about sauerkraut. Do you mean that if I ferment sauerkraut in an airtight container for more than eight weeks it won’t have as much histamine?

        • That is what the research says. Not airtight, but anaerobic with an air lock. That is the gold standard for fermenting. If you keep all the gasses in it will explode the container and harm the lactic acid bacteria you are counting on to do the work.

  11. Wow, thanks again to the forum, and for someone adding this link for me to see. Today in sheer desperation I decided to only have broth. Only to start sneezing and itching shortly after… I broke down and just felt sorry for myself – if I can’t even have broth, how will I cope?? I think this might be the key, given that I also think I may have a histamine problem. Thank you again Patty – I think I’ll be visiting your blog often :)

  12. This is great info, thanks! Also I usually pressure cook my stock (meat and bones for 50 min) Do you know if this has a lot of histamines in it? Or what pressure cooking does to the nutrients in stock?

    • My 4 year old does not react to it (or my regular stock but she does to other high histamine foods). Pressure cooking does not break down the gelatin in stock. Minerals are not broken down by cooking and my soft bones after a couple of hours of pressure cooking implies that much of the mineral content has moved from the bones into the broth.

      • Thank you! That is what I was thinking too, but it is nice to hear it confirmed. What are other high histamine foods, btw?

  13. Hello! So I am cooking bones in a crock pot on low for about 12 hours. Usually I get gelatin once it cools in the fridge over night. I am getting waves of feeling very sick with joint and muscle pain, headaches, very bad moods, mood swings. Could this be the MSG you talk about or perhaps die off? I’m not sure if I should just fight through this if it’s working or do something different like cook shorter.. thanks!

    • I would say it sounds like the msg issue or perhaps histamines. Do try a shorter cook time and see if it is better. Make meat broth (meaty bones in water just till meat is well done and tender) and see how you do with it. Then if that is ok you can slowly extend the time. This sort of broth isn’t super high in minerals but it is very healing for the gut in other ways.

      • Will do. Thank you!

  14. I am one of those people who is sensitive to broth/ stock. I was drinking bone broth everyday for two years, and horribly horribly exhausted. I only figured out it was the broth when my sister in Canada told me I wasn’t so exhausted when I visited her. I realized the only difference was I wasn’t drinking broth. I regret missing years of energy with my little boy because of this mistake. Glad to read your post here. I keep trying broth and it keeps making me so tired every time. Not sure how to heal my gut without it. I tried just gelatin. Same thing. Ah well.

    • Try just tiny amounts. 1 tsp of broth and see how you feel. Are you making meat broth or bone broth? I know it hardly seems worth it to try so little but for many they are able to build up from small amounts on foods that they never could “push through” with. Also give yourself a month break before trying it at all.
      Some people have had to start with just a drop of a food and slowly build up from there. Take your time and don’t rush things. If you tolerate 1 tsp of broth a day or have only very mild reactions stay there for a week. If after a week your mild reaction is gone then do 2 tsp a day. If it is still there after a week stop the broth and take a month off. When you start back do just 1/4 tsp or even 1 drop. Again do it for a week just one drop a day and see how you do. If no reaction after a week then do 2 drops a day. Over time you will be able to build faster but at the start when you are teaching your body to not react you need such tiny amounts. You don’t do your body any favors by overwhelming it.
      I had about a year when I could not drink coconut milk or it would make me fall asleep. I just stopped and then later on was able to add it back to my diet without reaction. I really don’t know why it happened but eventually it went away. I did keep all coconut to a minimum during that time. (I never reacted to small amounts of oil or flour, just large amounts of coconut milk when I would make a chowder or hot drink).

    • Churyl – Did you fid a cure for your sensitivity to bone broth? I just started on broth and it is making me tired.

  15. Thank you! This is new information to me. I’ve been making chicken soup a certain way for years (long cooking) and been under the impression that the longer it cooks, the better the healing properties (specifically gelatin). I’ve also been frustrated that my broth doesn’t gel lately. Recently found out it can’t boil too high, it has to simmer on low. Now, you tell me this. Seems key.

  16. Thanks so much for this explanation! I just got Dr. Campbell’s book today for treating myself. And after reading it – which I lapped up like precious knowledge broth I had been craving- my first major doubt for starting off was this. What do mean by `die off’ that occurs in bone broth btw?

    • Die off refers to symptoms that come from gut bugs dying. Bone broth is very healing to the gut and can help to shift the gut flora balance which will result in some of the bad gut bacteria dying and causing some symptoms.

      • That is very good to know, thanks so much!

  17. I am SOOOOo glad I found this blog…more specifically this post! I feel like a duns for not realizing the difference between each type of broth! We tried bone broth the second day into the diet and it made both my husband and I so so sick! We both were very nauseated! We thought it was because it was beef bone broth and neither of us are accustomed to eating red meat at all. So I have been sticking to the chicken stock for us. I’m glad to know that this is what we are SUPPOSE to be eating right now anyway!

  18. I simmered bone broth recently for 24 hours. Boy, was it potent! My prior batch was simmered for 12 hours and I was able to drink it like a cup of tea with a slice of ginger in it. It truly does intensify with time. The only way I could drink it was mixing it with approx. 75% water or by adding it to other water cooking dishes for flavor. No matter, I do this ritual every one in awhile because I am sold on its benefits. I have one rickety knee that comes back to life after a round of this brew, and that is only one impact that I can instantly recognize. After years of ignorantly drinking distilled water, my minerals have been depleted, so it helps my bones quench their deprivation. This is what grandma used to do, and “old wives” are about “tales”, but wisdom. Good for you.

  19. Oh my, this post has greatly relieved anxiety I’ve been having about a reaction I had to a stew I made with some turkey and some chicken bone broth I made, simmered for 24 and 12 hours, respectively. My first 2 attempts and I was so excited to start this nourishing tradition for my family for when we get sick or just to improve our health. My daughter has eczema, mild but I now know it’s an autoimmune issue and that healing her gut will hopefully help while also eliminating certain triggering foods. I think I will try the meat stock and do your recommended small dosage and then build up or stop. Have you heard of a histamine type reaction to ghee? I’ve been eating for forever and even making it but I just switched the brand of butter and had a mild version of my reaction to the bone broth though I had cooked chicken with ghee and with an adobo spice mix. Hmmm, perhaps something in the spice mix and not the ghee?

    Again, THANK YOU for sharing this info. Do you have sources for the levels of glutamates in broth and other foods? Thanks!

    • I’m so glad this post is helpful. I’m sorry I don’t have levels. Broth can vary so much from batch to batch in many different areas that there is very little info out there on tested levels of various nutrients and such.

  20. Great post. One other thing I want to mention that may be causing trouble for some people. A friend used her good quality stainless steal stockpot to make her broth, using the vinegar soak beforehand as Nourishing Traditions recipe suggests. Her son had major setback and return of symptoms. She had the broth analyzed (she is a scientist) and it turns out it had a tons of metals: turns out her pot was NOT the good quality stainless she thought it was.
    Now she cooks in the enameled cast iron and her son has no problem.
    So if you are doing the vinegar soak and using stainless, it could be leaching metals from the pot, which can cause a ton of inflammatory and neurologic symtpoms.

    • What do you think about using a crock pot?

      • That works well for many people. I cover that option in my new book.

  21. Hi! I’m wondering what your experience is in getting SOFT “gelatinous meats” of the bone in just 3 hrs? I’ve been using marrow bones and the stuff is still rubbery at 3hrs. and not so fun to eat.

    • If it isn’t soft and falling apart it isn’t done so cook it longer. If you mean the fat and other tissues that are not meat I simply remove the stuff that is soft and puree it for making pate and put the rest back in the pot for making bone broth.

  22. I just made bone broth for the first time this weekend. I didn’t read any of this great info and now I wish I had made meat stock! I’m on a gut-healing plan designed by a naturopath that already has me consuming a small dose of L-Glutamine daily. How much bone broth would you recommend I start consuming per day? I am worried about taking too much and having a reaction.

  23. I have been making the shorter meat broth to avoid possible reactions as I now I am quite sensitive, but the problem with this is that I don’t know what to do with all the meat! I usually do two chickens for two hours which leaves so much meat and bones. My freezer is filling up with all these by products. Does anyone have any ideas for what to do with all that chicken meat? Also, can I cook the left over carcasses for two hours or can this only be done with a full chicken?

  24. I am extremely sensitive to MSG and have done extensive research on it and it’s production in one’s own kitchen. Rule of thumb is not to mix anything acidic with any meat. The acid creates free-glutamic acid by a molecular reaction. If you add vinegar to any meat broth, you will create MSG. I got so sick from trying the gaps broths, and I know it was the MSG that I created. I cannot tolerate it. Also, I could not tolerate the fermented foods either. I cannot tolerate probiotics either. GAPS can kill you if you are not careful.

    • Well it doesn’t actually create MSG but a subset of people who are sensitive to MSG will also react to free glutamates. Free glutamates come from gelatin breaking down so any foods that contain gelatin have the possibility of containing free glutamates. Everyone needs to listen to their own body and not push it too hard and as Dr Campbell-McBride said, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” It is a bit of an exaggeration to say that GAPS can kill you. Any diet can kill you if you aren’t sensible about it and eat foods that your body can’t tolerate. Just because nuts are allowed on GAPS does not mean that nut allergic people should be eating them.

      • I’m so confused about all of this. I’m wanting to heal and seal my 4 year old son’s leaky gut, so I want him to get the benefits of meat broth, but I’m also very concerned about glutamates because he has autism and leaky gut. What is it specifically that is the most healing and sealing for his gut from the pressure cooker chicken and then beef meat stock I’m preparing? I guess what I’m wondering is how can I have him get the most gut healing properties from the meat stock with the least possibilities of getting free glutamates. Are there parts of the meat stock that I should or shouldn’t have him eat? Thank you!!

  25. So my kids have gut problems and related behavioral and physical problems.

    We are gluten free, dairy free, mostly organic and non-GMO. We have to avoid all nuts/seeds, fruits, and veggies moderate to high in salicylates as well as eggs and yeast.

    My husband and I cook/bake just about everything from scratch.

    We recently have discovered a MSG (free-glutamate) sensitivity in our daughter and we suspect histamine problems as well.

    I have a mast cell disorder and my daughter has FPIES (food protein induced Enterocolitis syndrome).

    I don’t know how to heal my daughters gut…. She has very limited foods… Bone (or now I’ve learned meat broth) is healing so I’ve wanted to try this, but she’s had reactions every time. Is there another healing portico that doesn’t involve fermented food, free glutamates, or histamine?

    • Protocol not portico – hah!

    • Hi Carrie,
      Sorry I took so long getting to this. GAPS does address this issue. First have you tried different meats? Are you saying that making broth from a meat that is otherwise safe for her causes reactions? Even if it is only cooked for a short time? I have met many parents of kids with FPIES who have healed their children with GAPS. Many of those children only had 2 or 3 safe foods for a long time but eventually were able to expand the diet. The author of the GAPS book says that histamine issues are a gut flora issue and once you shift the gut flora away from the histamine producing strains you will be able to tolerate more high histamine foods.

  26. I might have missed it, but is there a reason why the meat broth doesn’t have veggies added to it but the bone broth does?

    • The only reason why is because it is the broth that you start with when first starting GAPS and the fewer variables the better but you can certainly add vegetables to meat broth to give it more flavor.

  27. Oh I’m so glad someone gave me this post. My son who is on 3 weeks of GAPS Intro has been breaking out with a rash that have pimple like appearance. His rash started right after probiotic and someone said it’s a die-off or he may be having histamine issues. I stopped giving him probiotics or sauerkraut but he’s still getting the rash. Should I discontinue bone broth and give him meat broth instead? He’s been drinking bone broth every day but less meat broth. I make bone broth in a crock pot and I usually let it simmer for at least 24 hours.

    Thx for this pots!
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    • I would stop all broth and see if that fixes the problem. Then start slow adding back in just meat broth and see how he does. Some need to be extremely careful about how they make their meat broth to tolerate it. Any broth will have some histamine. Shorter cooking times and lower temps minimize it.

  28. I am coming back to this post to make sure I understand it all. One issue I think I had when making bone broth in my crockpot was that my crockpot may have had lead in the glaze. That might be an issue for some. I was also not feeling very good after consuming bone broth.

    Now I’ve experienced similar symptoms and realized that I am adding beef gelatin to my yogurt smoothies and adding ferments to my lunch. I’ve been having to go to bed each afternoon because I am so overcome by fatigue! So this would be a histamine issue.? And yet last time I had wine, I did not have my usual histamine response so I thought I was getting better?

    This is your most valuable contribution to Gut Healing, Patty! Truly this post meets such a need and fills a void. Thanks so much!

    • Betty I wonder if it is a beef allergy issue. Have you tried making chicken broth? And yes glutamines are different from histamines but both are amines and so similar and may cause similar issues in some people. Meat broth will have fewer free glutamines than bone broth as well. Gelatine should have low levels of free glutamines since the glutamine is created when gelatin breaks down in cooking but it will still have some for sure.

  29. Wait a minute! I still got it wrong. The gelatin is a glutamate issue and the ferments is a histamine issue? Are the reactions to each of these different? Now I’m not sure which issue I have! Would the SCD intro soup be a meat broth or meat soup? Thanks Patty. Still learning.

  30. How long do you stay on shorter cooked meaty bone soup before you can move on to the 12 hour bone broth?
    A couple weeks?

  31. Great website!

    Can beef broth be made from bones only, without the meat? I have some bones that I already used to make bone broth. But I have found that my system is not ready for bone broth, so I want to make beef broth instead. The farm I get my grass-fed meat and bones from is a long drive, and I will not be going there anytime soon. So all I have are the bones I already made bone broth with.

    I also have bones I have not yet used that still have marrow, etc, and also some nice cuts of steak and ground beef, but I’d rather not use these unused bones and meats for beef broth.

    Thanks in advance for your input!

  32. I’m here researching early in the morning because after drinking 2 mugs of newly-made bone broth yesterday, I got very tired, but had a hard time falling asleep (I was “wired-tired”– it took 3 hours to fall asleep) then I awoke 4 hours later with a mild headache & can’t sleep. I do have leaky gut, but I have never previously had issues with MSG and can drink red wine (don’t seem to have a histamine issue). What I do seem to have is a sensitivity to calcium. If I take calcium supplements (which calms most people down), they jack me up and agitate. I’m assuming bone broth has very high levels of calcium. Any insight into any of this? Thank you!

    • Hi Sabine, Yes bone broth has a good amount of bioavailable calcium. That is probably your problem.


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