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Benefits of Soup for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know
Published on July 21, 2021 and last updated for accuracy on August 13, 2022
A soup diet is a short-term eating plan that is created to help individuals lose weight rapidly. There is no one official soup diet, but rather a collection of various soup-based eating plans. While some involve only eating soup throughout the diet, other diets include a prescribed list of foods that you can include in the diet (1)(2).
As the main goal for this type of diet, in general, is to lose weight quickly, many these diets are only meant to last for 5 to 10 days (1).
Soup diets have been around for decades – with one of the first soup-based eating plans being the cabbage soup diet, which grew in popularity during the 1980s. For this plan, people followed a particular cabbage soup recipe that they will consume for seven days with the goal of losing up to 10 pounds (2).
Since then, other soup-based eating plans have come to the spotlight to accommodate different preferences in taste, style, and diet trends. Some of these include keto soup plans, paleo soup plans, vegetarian soup plans, and bean-based soup plans. All of these plans claim to aid in rapid weight loss (2).
Eating soup may help improve satiety and help you stay full, which might let you eat less overall. Although this can lead to weight loss, there is no evidence that solely this diet effectively aids in long-term weight management (2).
How Does This Work?
There are a variety of soup diets – each comes with different foods that are either encouraged or are limited. Although each plan is unique, there are common trends among them (2).
On most soup diets, you consume three meals every day. Many of them require you to eat soup for every meal, including breakfast, while others may only require you to consume one non-soup meal each day with the remaining two meals consisting of only soup. Nonetheless, there is no specific timing that is required for each meal consumption on most plans. In some cases, the diets limit or entirely prohibits snacking (2).
If you are planning to stick to one particular eating plan for a prescribed period, quick weight loss is possible given that you are restricting your daily calorie intake. However, this type of diet lacks well-balanced nutrition and is not a go-to solution for maintaining weight loss. That said, the soup diet is not fit for some people and is not recommended by several health professionals. Its restrictive nature is not particularly for long periods (2).
Types of Soup Diets
There are several types of soup diets. The following diets are the most common, but that does not mean that they are healthy and effective plans for weight loss. Moreover, there is no current research on the effectiveness of these specific diets (1)(2).
It’s possible to include some components to these plans when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, including more water or incorporating the soup recipes as part of a balanced diet (2).
1. Basic Soup Diet
This soup diet includes soup, including creamy soups, canned soups, homemade soups, and broth-based soups. Soups with meat are usually consumed along with plant-based soups. Other plans include a specific recipe to follow with the necessary detailed instructions (2).
Most basic soup diets would last seven days while others can last up to two weeks. Online claims suggest that you can lose 10 to 15 pounds during that period. The only thing is that you only consume soup (2).
2. Broth-Based Soup Diet
Broth-based soup diets generally last for 7 days. However, some can last up to 10 to 14 days. Over time, proponents of this diet claim that you lose about 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 kg to 9 kg) (1).
Cream-based soups are prohibited for this type of diet, as they are higher in calories and fat. Instead, you are encouraged to consume homemade or canned broth-based soups that contain vegetables and protein (1).
While some programs include only the consumption of broth-based soups, others may permit small amounts of low-calorie options, such as nonfat dairy, non-starchy vegetables, and lean proteins (1).
3. Cabbage Soup Diet
This seven-day diet allows you to make a large batch of soup that includes cabbage as its main ingredient. This popular soup diet may also include low-carb vegetables like tomato, onion, carrots, and either a chicken- or vegetable-based broth. Most websites promote the cabbage soup eating plan, claiming that you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in one week with proper adherence to the program (1)(2).
This type of diet also comes with a list of foods that are allowed and should be avoided. Most of these plans allow you to eat foods like beef and low-calorie foods like leafy greens and skim milk, yet it restricts foods like bananas (1)(2).
4. Bean Soup Diet
The followers of this diet consume vegetable bean soup made from ingredients that include mushrooms, pinto beans, chili peppers, diced tomatoes, bell peppers, and celery. Basically, the soup recipe can be more complex than others (2).
During this program, followers are advised to eat bean soup twice daily as their main meal. They are also encouraged to drink plenty of water and avoid or limit dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and avocados. Still, they are encouraged to eat most oil-free and plant-based foods (2).
One of the more popular bean soup diets is one from the author of “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease,” Michael Greger, MD (1).
The diet encourages eating Dr. Greger’s Champion Vegetable Bean Soup up to twice a day. In addition to the soup, you are allowed to consume any plant-based, oil-free foods, such as grains, vegetables, and fruits (1).
While there is no calorie restriction, the diet recommends limiting the intake of calorie-dense foods like dried fruits and nuts for optimal weight loss results (1).
Unlike other soup diets, Greger’s diet serves as a lifelong shift to a plant-based diet. The proponents of this diet claim that you can lose 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg) during the first week. Although plant-based diets like the bean soup diet benefits weight loss and heart health, there is no research on Greger’s bean soup diet (1).
5. Chicken Soup Diet
The 7-day weight loss diet involves eating chicken soup for every meal except breakfast. Instead, your morning meal involves choosing from five low-calorie options including foods like nonfat milk and yogurt, whole-grain cereal or bread, fat-free cheese, and fresh fruit (1).
For the rest of the day, the diet recommends the consumption of frequent small portions of homemade chicken soup throughout the day. By eating in small proportions of soup frequently, the diet claims to help you reduce cravings and encourage feelings of fullness (1).
The soup itself is low in calories and carbs, as it is made with cooked chicken, broth, aromatics like onion and garlic, as well as plenty of non-starchy vegetables, including turnips, collard greens, carrots, and broccoli (1).
6. Sacred Heart Diet
Similar to the cabbage soup diet, the Sacred Heart soup diet is a 7-day eating plan that mostly consists of broth-based soup with non-starchy vegetables. Although low-calorie foods are allowed, the diet is very particular about which foods can be included every day (1).
For this diet, followers consume a soup made with chicken or beef broth, celery, onions, green beans, carrots, and tomatoes. Foods that are eaten in addition to the soup include unsweetened fruit juice and brown rice – both of which are provided in very specific amounts. For example, tomatoes and potatoes can only be eaten on particular days and only in specifically measured amounts (2).
When the diet became popular, the proponents claimed that it was associated with a medical center called Sacred Heart. However, the claims are not substantiated by research or objective data (2).
According to advocates of the diet, following the plan exactly can help you lose 10 to 17 (4.5 to 8 kg) pounds in a week (1)(2). Health experts, however, warns that rapid weight loss of this gravity is potentially dangerous (2).
7. Keto Soup Diet
Designed for people following the ketogenic (keto), Whole30, paleo, and another low carb diet, the keto soup diet claims that it will help individuals lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a whopping 5 days (1)!
The general keto diet involves a soup version that is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate protein eating plan. The program provides 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day, limits carbs to 20 grams per day and prohibits nuts, artificial sweeteners, and dairy (1).
The plan recommends eating the same breakfast each day, which consists of eggs, bacon, butter, avocado, and unsweetened coffee. The follower is also allowed one low-carb, high-fat snack, such as celery with a keto-friendly tuna salad (1).
For the rest of the day, one eats four cups of keto soup – split between lunch and dinner. The soup recipe involves ingredients such as bacon, chicken, chicken stalk, olive oil, green beans, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, red wine, and other low-carb herbs and vegetables (1)(2).
Some substitutions are allowed, but those who follow the diet are recommended to avoid certain vegetables, such as kale, as they may impede weight loss. However, this concern is questionable and is not supported by science (2).
Benefits of a Healthy Soup
Nutritionist Susie Burrell explained that soup is a great nutritious meal option – with certain types of soups even proven to help support weight loss (3).
Vegetable-based soups are great options nutritionally as they combine a high-nutrient density and low-energy density. These provide us key nutrients, which include vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories (3).
Given that foods with a high energy density and low nutrient density, such as white bread, snacks, sugar-based drinks, and high-fat fast foods dominate our intake, a low-calorie option that improves your satiety is a better option for optimal health (3).
Studies have shown that when diners consume a low-calorie vegetable-based soup before the main course, they consume up to twenty percent fewer calories during a meal. The reason is simple: soup fills us up, so we consume fewer foods. This may also be nutritionally beneficial for us, as the nutrients found in vegetables include many water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B, C, K, as well as dietary fiber and a wide range of minerals. As a result, it may help you regulate the digestive tract and ensure that we achieve the number of key nutrients that our body requires each day (3).
Eating soup also has an extra benefit for weight and fluid retention; variants that have base of leeks, celery, and onions are particularly high in potassium. The mineral helps to bind excess sodium and get rid of excess fluid in the body (3).
Many of us carry fluid and usually feel bloated because of a high-salt diet and lack of activity. It drops as little as 500 grams of body weight after taking in a few vegetable soups (3).
Soups can also be a simple addition to your meal. This meal plan ensures that the family gets all their much-needed nutrition and vegetables. Soup can also be consumed as a filling afternoon snack or as an entire lunch or light evening meal, especially that beans, potato, or sweet potato provides heavier carbs while chicken, some minced meat, and lean sausage provide protein (3).
For an additional considerable amount of carbohydrates and calories to your soup, one can try to add rice, noodles, legumes, and pasta to their soup (3).
Broth-style, vegetable soups on one hand have virtually no calories and can be consumed relatively freely (or with a good piece of bread) (3).
For those who are looking to lose a couple of pounds quickly, replacing an evening meal with vegetable-based soup is a safe way to do so. While it keeps you from feeling hungry and deprived as if you were eating very little on a regular diet or taking meal replacement shakes, its low energy content helps to keep your total calorie intake low (3).
For those who aim for a more intense meal plan, they can replace two meals a day with vegetable soup for five to seven days without experiencing any negative side effects. Although much of the weight to be lost is fluid, sometimes a flatter stomach with a pound or two less on the weighing is all we need to feel healthier and leaner (3).
Most importantly, homemade soups are the best option. It allows one to control the type and the number of vegetables used to create your soup and choose to make use of salt-reduced stocks and few other additives (3).
Although pre-made soups and packet soup mixes can be delicious, they are usually high in sodium – with the average packet soup containing 800 to 1200 mg of sodium, which is a third to half of your total sodium limit (3).
Premade soups also tend to be relatively low in protein and high in carbohydrate thanks to their potato starch base. If you are looking for a pre-made soup option, make sure to look for varieties containing less than 20g total carbohydrates per serve and less than 800 mg of sodium (3).
Soup and Weight Loss
The link from the lower body weight and soup is still unknown. Some studies suggest that soup can help increase feelings of fullness. Thus, it is known that regularly eating soup can help reduce the number of calories you take in. There are other factors that can explain this relationship, which includes cultural and genetic differences between individuals who regularly eat soup (1).
Observational studies have found individuals who regularly consume soup tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) and are less likely to have obesity, compared to those who don’t eat soup at all (1).
Soup can benefits weight loss in many ways, which include the following:
- The liquid content of the soup keeps you hydrated and satiated for a long time without the need to consume too many calories (4).
- You can experiment with many soup recipes. You can add your favorite veggies, meat, spices, and herbs to make yourself a healthy and weight-loss-friendly delight. While you’re at it, choose veggies that are high in fiber (4).
- Unlike juicing, souping ensures that you do not lose out on healthy fibers (4).
- Sprucing your soup with your favorite spices can aid in weight loss thanks to their metabolism-boosting properties. Some of these spices include black pepper, cinnamon, and paprika (4).
Does Soup Aid in Weight Loss?
Regularly consuming soup has been linked to lower body weight. However, there is no sufficient research on its benefits for weight loss. Still, thanks to their calorie nature, these eating plans would most likely help you lose some weight in short term (1).
While a delicious bowl of hot, nutritious soup can be a healthy addition to any eating plan, the soup diet works to eliminate other healthy food groups that can help you achieve sustainable weight loss or overall wellness (2).
If you are looking to benefit from the advantages of incorporating more nutritious soups in your diet, try experimenting with your own recipes at home together with other nutritious meals. Combining a balanced diet with physical activity can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight (2).