Meat Stock vs. Bone Broth

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One of the most common points of confusion for beginners on the GAPS diets is the difference between meat stock and bone broth. Lets explore the distinctions between the two, the individual benefits each provide, how to properly prepare them, and learn about which should be utilized at each phase of the GAPS diet for maximum healing and benefit.

Meat stocks and bone broths are the foundation of the GAPS diet. They don’t contain any properties which feed gut pathogens, they soothe the wounds of the gut lining and contain the appropriate lipids for its repair, they are absorbed and utilized by the body without any effort or energy being spent digesting it, and they are FULL of the vitamins, amino acids, electrolytes and minerals the body requires to repair itself and achieve our primary GAPS goal – the healing and sealing of the gut lining.

Meat stock is less talked about than bone broth, but is my personal favorite and is the only stock intended to be used during the Intro diet.  As implied by it’s name, meat stock is made from meaty bones, with an approximate ratio of 80/20 meat to bones. All GAPS compliant meats and fish ( organic, grass fed, or wild/fresh caught ) are appropriate to make meat stock, but the best meat stocks are made from meaty bones with a joint, as joints contain the highest amount of gelatin and amino acids.  Chicken meat stock is particularly soothing for the gut lining, and making a meat stock with drumsticks ( joints) is an easy and ideal way to get a delicious GAPS stock. A primary distinction between meat stock and bone broth, beyond the way it’s prepared,  is that meat stock is low in glutamic acid, which can cause nervous system symptoms ( like tics)  in sensitive people, and in people who still have leaks in their gut lining. Meat stock is the only appropriate broth/stock recommended on the Intro of the GAPS diet for this reason, and if taken consistently ( 3-5 cups a day), will soon seal the gut lining so the GAPS patient can move on from the Intro phase, and begin incorporating plenty of bone broth and new foods into their GAPS diet repertoire.

Bone broth is the Beyonce of the wellness world – so popular and fabulous that just about everyone knows about it.  Bone broth is made from – you got it! Bones. And if they’re the bones you used to make meat stock the day before – all the better! No meat is required for this broth , but it’s better that your bones have some connective tissue and cartilage left on them if you want your broth to gel. It’s important to understand that bone broth is not appropriate on the Intro phase of the GAPS diet until the gut lining has completely sealed, after which point bone broth should be liberally consumed and enjoyed throughout all other phases of the GAPS diet for it’s high mineral content, easily absorbed nutrients, and many other benefits.

A proper meat stock will thoroughly gel when it gets cold. The gel is what is going to plug the holes in a GAPS person’s gut lining, healing and sealing the duodenum (lining of the small intestine), and moving them on to subsequent phases of the GAPS diet. The keys to getting your meat stock to gel every time are as follows – using meaty joints, constraining the water to juuuuuust cover the meaty bones by 1/2 an inch and no more, and low simmering rather than cooking a rolling boil. That’s it! Place your meaty bones in a dutch oven with salt, pepper and a bay leaf, cover with water until just covered, bring up to a low simmer and skim the scum, then cover at the lowest possible simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours for chicken, 4-6 for beef or lamb. You can drink the stock and eat the meat together or separately, but this simple stock is the GAPS Intro phase superstar, and the most important food you’ll consume on the GAPS diet.

To make a bone broth when you’ve transitioned to the Full GAPS diet, save the bones from the meat stock, and freeze them until you’re ready to use. Roast them on a cookie sheet at 350 for half an hour, then add to a pot with water at a ratio of 1lb bones to 1 liter of water, less water is more! If you want to get that gel – constrain!!! Include a splash of vinegar or lemon to leach the minerals from the bones into the broth, skim the scum once it’s brought to a simmer, cover and let cook for 24-72 hours. Again, bone broth is appropriate and extremely beneficial on the Full GAPS diet – for a deeper and more heady dive into some of the amazing health benefits of bone broth and meat stock, check out The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet by Monica Corrado, MA, CNC, CGP – she was one of my instructors, a fun and lovely person, and her book is an incredible resource.

Takeaways :

  • Meat stock is the only stock appropriate on the GAPS Intro. It contains everything the gut lining needs to heal and seal, and should be consumed liberally ( 3-5+) cups a day while on the Intro phase.
  • Bullion or boxed or canned processed stocks are not healing, nutritious or GAPS compliant.
  • Bone broth contains all the benefits of meat stock but contains glutamic acid which can cause nervous system reactions until the GAPS person’s gut has healed and sealed; it should be consumed liberally on the Full GAPS diet, but not during the Intro. Road tripping? Grab a high quality bone broth you can pack here.
  • Meat stock is made from 80/20 meaty joint bones, bone broth is made from 80/20 bones/ meat. The secret to a great gel on each is constraining the water, and simmering rather than bopping it to a bodacious boil. Heads and feet contain the highest level of healing properties – if you have access to using them – do.
  • The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet by Monica Corrado, MA, CNC, CGP is an incredible resource for GAPS cooking and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a deep understanding of the why behind our how. You can find and purchase her book here

Hope this was a practical help to you and that you enjoy sipping!


Campbell, McBride N. Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment for autism, dyspraxia, add, dyslexia, adhd, depression, schizophrenia. 2010. Medinform Publishing.

Corrado,M. The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet. 2019 Selene River Press, Inc.