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Bone Broth Electrolytes for Runners

Bone broth has several benefits, including improved joint and gut health. But did you know that bone broth for runners can help maintain healthy hydration? The electrolytes in bone broth may aid in fluid balance, as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals.

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An ancient dish that has nourished people for thousands of years, bone broth still holds a useful role today in the diet. Especially for athletes.

Of course, it’s delicious and comforting. But it also has components that improve bone density and volume. Additionally, bone broth has gelatin which some people believe improves gut health.

Bone broth also has peptides, or amino acids that can promote muscle growth and have anti-inflammatory properties.

Furthermore, bone broth is an excellent source of electrolytes. These bone broth electrolytes can help maintain fluid balance in your cells and hence, enhance hydration.

This is super important for a runner who’s sweating. Even more so if you are a salty sweater. The electrolytes lost in our sweat need to be replaced by our diet.

This post will hone in on the electrolytes in bone broth and why this centuries-old beverage may boost your hydration status.

What is Bone Broth?

As the name suggests, bone broth is a brothy liquid made from animal bones and connective tissue. You can use bones from any animal to make a tasty and versatile broth.

The bones are often placed in water, and covered with seasoning, veggies, onion, and/or garlic to enhance the flavor.

animal bones used to make bone broth

It is then simmered for hours to create a savory broth that you can sip or use in recipes.

The nutrition content in bone broth is quite variable, as there are different preparations. However, it is a great use of bones that would otherwise end up in the garbage.

Furthermore, bone broth post workout can be a great way to get in fluids, electrolytes and protein.

Bone Broth vs. Chicken Stock

One key difference between bone broth and stock is the cooking time.

Stock cooks a lot more quickly. Whereas with bone broth, it may take up to 48 hours.

It is generally thought that the longer you cook the bones, the more nutrients are in the broth.

When making bone broth, you use bones that have more connective tissue, like joints. Bone broth contains more collagen and gelatin for this reason.

bone broth simmering over glass bowl

How to Use Bone Broth

You can drink bone broth plain (it’s a great way to rehydrate after a cold, long run!) or use it when cooking the following foods:

  • Soups or stew
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Rice or risotto
  • Quinoa
  • Smoothies
  • Dried beans
  • Pasta
  • Poached eggs

Bone broth electrolytes can be a great way to enhance your hydration before, during and/or after a run.

While you may prefer to drink a specially formulated sports beverage or make your own homemade electrolyte drink, you can also replace your fluid and electrolytes with bone broth.

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Electrolytes in Bone Broth

Electrolytes are minerals that make ions—a group of atoms with an electrical charge. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium are ions that perform some important functions in the body.

Nearly every cell in your body contains fluid and electrolytes. It’s the electrolytes that help keep the right amount of fluid in your cells.

Electrolytes also aid in muscle contraction and help your body generate energy from food.

clinical list of electrolytes with checkmarks

Runners and athletes lose electrolytes in sweat.

So whether you are hydrating for a half marathon or doing a training run, you need to replace your fluid losses AND electrolytes to prevent dehydration.

Curious how to hydrate according to your specific needs? Check out our ultimate guide to hydration for runners to see how much fluid is recommended based on body weight, training, etc.

Sodium

The salty, savory flavor of bone broth is what makes it so comforting. And that salty flavor comes from one of the key electrolytes in bone broth, which is sodium.

In addition to maintaining fluid balance, sodium helps to regulate the pH balance in your blood, aids in nerve signaling and promotes cell function.

The amount of sodium in bone broth varies quite a bit, depending on the brand or recipe.

In a one-cup serving of bone broth, there is approximately 250-300 mg of sodium. This is close to the amount in a 20 oz bottle of a sports drink or UCAN product.

Therefore, sodium in bone broth could be a natural way to re-hydrate and hydrate.

pouring a cup of bone broth

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recommendation for sodium is less than 2,300 mg/day. This may not apply to many athletes, especially those who are salty sweaters or training vigorously.

Note: If you’ve been told to limit your sodium for blood pressure reasons, make sure to talk to your health care provider to determine your individual sodium needs, or sports dietitian to determine your needs.

Most runners do not have to worry about the specific amount of sodium they take in. In fact, as an endurance athlete, you need additional fluids AND running electrolytes, specifically sodium.

Furthermore, if you are running especially long distances or in hot weather, you may have greater sodium losses.

Everyone sweats differently so try to estimate your sweat losses, or even better, get a sweat test done.

Here’s how you can estimate your sodium losses based on your weight loss after a run:

Weight lost (lbs.)Fluids lost (ounces)Sodium lost
116500 mg
2321000 mg
3481500 mg
4642000 mg
5802500 mg
6963000 mg
Chart with estimated amounts of sodium lost in fluids

While you may not want to chug bone broth during your run to replenish fluids and electrolytes, the electrolytes in bone broth can be a great way to rehydrate afterward.

Potassium

Sodium isn’t the only electrolyte found in bone broth. The potassium in bone broth is another key player, which also plays a role in fluid balance and muscle contraction.

The potassium in bone broth may also regulate your blood pressure, maintain acid-base balance in the body, and help your heart function and beat regularly.

bowl of broth

You lose potassium when you sweat, but it can be easily replaced with a diet high in fruits and vegetables (here are the best fruits for runners, many are potassium-rich!), electrolyte drinks, and/or bone broth.

Again, the exact amount differs between brands and preparations, but on average, 1 cup of bone broth contains about 250 mg of potassium.

When you are planning your post half marathon recovery, or planning what to eat after a marathon, bone broth may be an option to replenish you.

While having bone broth before or after a workout can be great for hydration, having it after a workout can promote muscle building, thansk to the protein content.

Bone broth may also be rich in other micronutrients, such as magnesium, calcium, B-Vitamins and more.

Other Benefits of Bone Broth for Athletes

Besides replacing some of the electrolytes you lose while running, bone broth for athletes may be worth adding for other reasons.

  • Muscle repair: With 10 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, bone broth is rich in amino acids like arginine and glutamine, which help repair and build muscle and maintain energy.
  • Bone health: Bone broth for bone health? You bet! The collagen in bone broth (in conjunction with Vitamin C) may support collagen production in the body, which would be helpful for joint and bone health. It should be noted that bone broth does contain less available collagen than most collagen supplements. Note that calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K are also important for bone health.
  • Gut health: Glutamine, an amino acid found in bone broth, has been shown to have positive effects on gut bacteria. This may be beneficial in training your runner’s gut and boosting your immune system.
female vegan ultra runner running on trail

How to Make Bone Broth

Yes, bone broth is available at just about any grocery store or at online retailers, but you can easily make your own inexpensive version too!

  • Start with bones: you can use leftover bones from your meals, or get bones from your local butcher
  • Place bones in a large stockpot
  • Add optional ingredients, like seasonings, vegetables (can use cleaned scraps or cut veggies), garlic, or onion.
  • Cover the bones with water and 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which helps to break down collagen and extract nutrients.
  • Simmer for 12-36 hours until broth is rich in color and bones are easily falling apart.
  • Strain and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. It can be kept frozen for 2-3 months.
bones next to pot of broth for making bone broth

Key Takeaways

  • Bone broth is a great source of electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
  • Not only is bone broth mostly water, but the electrolytes it contains also promote adequate hydration.
  • You lose electrolytes and fluid when you sweat, and runners need to replace losses with their diets.
  • Bone broth is high in protein and amino acids, which are beneficial for muscle repair, bone health, and gut bacteria.
  • While prepackaged bone broth is readily available, you can make your own at home with simple ingredients and leftover bones for a broth that is highly nutritious and affordable.

References:

  • Seki Y, Ohkuma RC, Miyakawa Y, Karakida T, Yamamoto R, Yamakoshi Y. Hyaluronan and chondroitin sulfate in chicken-vegetable bone broth delay osteoporosis progression. J Food Sci. Published online February 5, 2024. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.16962
  • Malison A, Arpanutud P, Keeratipibul S. Chicken foot broth byproduct: A new source for highly effective peptide-calcium chelate. Food Chem. 2021;345:128713. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.128713
  • Belval LN, Hosokawa Y, Casa DJ, et al. Practical Hydration Solutions for Sports. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1550. Published 2019 Jul 9. doi:10.3390/nu11071550
  • Valenzuela PL, Morales JS, Emanuele E, Pareja-Galeano H, Lucia A. Supplements with purported effects on muscle mass and strength. Eur J Nutr. 2019;58(8):2983-3008. doi:10.1007/s00394-018-1882-z
  • Alcock RD, Shaw GC, Burke LM. Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019;29(3):265-272. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0139
  • Perna S, Alalwan TA, Alaali Z, et al. The Role of Glutamine in the Complex Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Health: A Narrative Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5232. Published 2019 Oct 22. doi:10.3390/ijms20205232
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