WW Hack: The Magic of Beef Bouillon Cubes

bouillon cubes and coffee mug

My diet companion through time and space.

My biggest secret weapon for keeping my appetite at bay and staying on plan is one I actually picked up from the Atkins diet forums a long time ago, and it’s incredibly effective.

Regardless of what diet you’re on these days, you’re probably staying mindful of carbohydrates, or at least trying to eliminate excessive amounts of simple starches/sugars from your diet right off the bat. You’re also probably exercising (and sweating!) more than you were before you started losing weight. Group these ideas with the notion that increasingly more healthy options have reduced sodium in them, and you may find yourself with electrolytes that are out-of-whack.

Just like when you were a kid and sick, the best way to cure a diet headache, stress-eating moment, or craving (even when you think nothing but sugar will sate you and you MUST HAVE IT IMMEDIATELY OR DIE), is to up those electrolytes in your system. Beef broth has saved me from myself so many times I’ve lost count. I keep a jar of instant broth cubes right on my desk at work. My office mates laugh at me but they can’t argue with my results.

Seriously. It works. It has 5 calories, no fat, and it feels like you just drank a bowl of soup from your coffee mug. It has saved me from countless emergency Snickers runs. I will be downright convinced I need chocolate, or potato chips, or whatever, and I’ll look over and see the jar of cubes on my desk, and think, “Oh, what the heck?” and heat up a cup of water and toss one in. Works. Like. A. Charm.

Sometimes (this morning, in fact), I’ll actually start the electric kettle going as soon as I unlock the office door, before I’ve gone around turning on lights or hanging up my stuff or anything else. A cup of bouillon is sometimes the best start to a day I can ask for. It’s also a pretty great way to send out an evening as well, actually. If I’m afraid a cup of tea will make me crave a cookie to go with it at bedtime, I’ll swap it out for broth instead. Amazing.

I’m sure someone is grossed out by the thought of drinking cups of broth several times a week, and I’ll admit I kind of went, “Blehhhh” when I first started reading Atkins forums where everyone consistently recommended it for what low-carbers call the “keto-flu” (bad flu-like or headache symptoms that you get after a few days of low-carb transition when your body starts to enter ketosis). One day while struggling with Atkins induction, I had a terrible headache that ibuprofen wouldn’t touch. Having nothing to lose, I tossed a bouillon cube in water, and immediately felt better. My symptoms vanished like magic within minutes, and the sweets craving I was struggling with had disappeared with it, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I’ve been a believer ever since. Granted, there’s a considerable bit of sodium in cup of broth, but I think that’s actually what helps it work. I always read that low-sodium broth was not recommended for this trick with Atkins because the salt was part of the “cure.” And like I said — chances are that if you’re eating lighter to begin with, you’re probably eating less salt as a result of fewer processed, packaged non-healthy meals, junk food snacks, etc., so you’re probably okay with adding one or two bouillon cubes into your diet as long as you don’t have any history of sodium restriction or other dietary boundaries like that.

When I moved to Weight Watchers after repeated failures on long-term ketosis diets, and started eating moderate amounts of whatever carb I felt like again, I still had days when sugar or salt cravings punched me in the face when I really didn’t want to cheat. I started using broth again as a go-to SOS for those moments, and it works just as effectively on Weight Watchers as it did on low-carb diets. I think it must have to do with its umami effect (my taste buds tricking my stomach into thinking I just at a piece of meat or something equally sating), coupled with it being mixed with water — which of course is the other major tip every dieter knows about (that when you think you’re hungry, you should try drinking water or an unsweetened beverage and see if you’re still really hungry afterwards or not).

Whatever’s at work there, it certainly does the trick for me, and I hope it will work for you, too.



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