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What is the soup diet?

three bowls of soup
The soup diet... what's the hype? We'll go through the potential benefits of the soup diet and the potential downsides too. Find out all you need to know today.

The soup diet has been popular for many years – and we’re going to unpack why that’s the case.

From what the soup diet is to its pros and cons, find out all you need to know in our guide.

The soup diet explained

There are a whole host of soup diets available, but the general idea is that you consume soup for all meals.

Having said this, some of the diets are more flexible and exclude breakfast – which is great news for breakfast food lovers!  

The soup diet is usually short-term and meant to be done over a period of 7 days, although there are some that extend to 14 days.

There are many varieties of soup diets, for example, bean soup diet, keto soup diet and chicken soup diet.

The benefits of the soup diet

Read on to find out the benefits of the soup diet...

  1. It provides you with plenty of fibre

One of the main benefits of the soup diet is that it can temporarily increase your fibre intake – thanks to the vegetable contents.

What’s more, if you’re trying to manage your weight safely, fibre may be able to help you achieve your goals.

This has been backed up by studies that highlight how fibre can help you feel more full, and therefore automatically reduce the number of calories you consume.1,2

Also, fibre tends to expand in the gut after soaking up water, which in turn helps you to feel full.3

  1. It means you’ll eat lots of vegetables

Whether it was your parents or your grandparents, you’ve probably had someone in your life telling you to eat your vegetables – and for good reason!

Veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals, such as folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C.4

But you have to make sure you’re eating a wide range of vegetables to ensure you’re getting every kind of nutrient they offer. And that’s where the soup diet comes in.

Due to the nature of this diet, you can experiment with loads of different veggies in your soup recipes to ensure you’re getting a wide variety.

  1. It encourages a plant-based diet

Since the soup diet helps you eat more veggies, it’s a great way to get acquainted with the plant-based diet. 

If you’re already vegan, that’s great! But if you eat a lot of animal products, this could help you transition to the plant-based way of life.

  1. It may help you to control weight

On a weight loss control journey? The soup diet may help you to achieve your goals.

While scientific research in this area is limited, there have been some promising studies that indicate that it could help you manage and control your weight.

Research from 2011 found that there was a link between the soup diet and a smaller waist size and a lower body mass index (BMI).5

In addition to this, an American study from 2013 highlighted that people who eat a lot of soup may lose more excess weight than those who didn’t – and that those who did were better able to maintain their weight loss.6

  1. It could increase your water intake

If you’re not the best at keeping your hydration levels up, this could be the diet for you.

To achieve a smooth, liquid texture, soup needs a lot of water. And we all know how important water is for keeping our bodily functions ticking along nicely.

Water can help our bodies to be healthy by:

  • Aiding the digestive system
  • Supporting cell function
  • Regulating body temperature 7
  1. It’s pretty hassle-free

And a non-health related benefit of the soup diet is that it is hassle-free and easy to follow.

On the soup diet, you don’t need to count calories and you don’t need to cut out certain food groups – making it simple to follow over the period of your diet.

But it doesn’t end there. Making soup itself is also pretty simple – just pop all your ingredients in a pot and let it simmer away!

Or if you prefer a smooth texture, just whizz it up in a blender once it’s cooked.

The potential side effects of the soup diet

Read on for the potential side effects of the soup diet...

  1. It may slow your metabolism

One of the main downsides of the soup diet is that it could slow down your metabolism.

This is likely because it is lower in calories than a regular diet, and while this is great for short term weight control loss, it can have an effect on your metabolism.

Studies on very low calorie diets back this up too, suggesting that rapid weight loss from low calorie consumption slows your metabolic rate, which means your body will burn less calories than before you went on the diet.8,9,10

As a result of this effect, you may find it harder to control weight and actually keep it off.

  1. It may cause some nutritional deficiencies

If you’re following a strict soup diet like the cabbage soup diet, you may end up with some nutritional deficiencies.

For example, you could end up lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, so it may be worth taking a multivitamin if you are on a stricter variation of the soup diet.

  1. It may up your salt intake

If you’re planning on trying this diet, you need to keep an eye on your salt intake.

This is even more important if you’re using pre-made soups in your plan. High salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure, so be sure to stick to the 6 grams limit.11

If you’re going to make all of your own soups from scratch, maybe try to use low-salt stock cubes or just use fewer stock cubes overall.

  1. It may make you irritable

When diets are low in calories and filling nutrients, it can affect your mood and not for the better.

Our nutrition expert Amrit Kaur Khaneja highlights this, stating that: “although soup diets typically encourage homemade broths that include vegetables or protein, they can still leave you feeling hungry, leading to changes in mood and irritability.

The lack of variety is also another downside of the soup diet which can make you feel bored of your food very quickly, for example, the cabbage diet.”

  1. It’s not necessarily sustainable for long-term weight control

We’ve touched upon this already, but it’s important to point out that the soup diet is generally considered best for quick, short-term weight control.

As the soup diet usually only lasts for 7-14 days, it’s not recommended in the long term.

The NHS also highlights how very low-calorie diets like this often lead to short term weight loss, but it’s likely that you’ll put some or all of the weight back on once you go back to eating normally.12

How to do the soup diet safely

All this being said, people will still continue to use the soup diet – so it’s important that you know how to do it safely.

Our expert nutritionist Amrit Kaur Khaneja mentions some of the ways you can do the soup diet in a safe manner:

“Ensure you choose a diet plan that includes the consumption of some low-calorie solid foods to help you feel fuller.

Choose diets that do not go below 1,500 calories a day, the reduction of 500 calories per day is considered safe sustainable weight control yet some diets can be as low as 500 calories per day which can be dangerous.”

As mentioned previously, we’d also recommend supplementing this diet with a multivitamin to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

What is the best soup for weight control?

The best soups for weight control are the ones that contain the following nutrients:

  • Fibre – especially the soluble kind as this may help you lose more belly fat13
  • Healthy fats – especially unsaturated fats as they can help you feel more full and regulate your appetite14
  • No processed ingredients – as this has been linked to weight gain

The final say

Whether you want to try the official soup diet or you just want to include more healthy soups in your diet, you may find it beneficial for weight control.

But as with any extreme lifestyle changes, it’s best to speak to your doctor for advice beforehand.

You also asked...

How does the soup diet compare to other diets?

Weighing up the pros and cons of the soup diet, how does it compare to other popular diets? Here’s what our expert nutritionist Amrit Kaur Khaneja has to say:

“The soup diet is rapid weight loss from a reduction in calories as solid food is avoided. Soup diets are easy and convenient to prepare cutting out the time taken to prepare a meal, it’s an all in a one pot meal.

Although soup diets help reduce weight quicker than other diets, it is only recommended for 7 days therefore is not sustainable in the long term.

Additionally, reducing weight quickly can mean putting it back on just as fast once to stop the diet hence as it does not teach healthy eating/lifestyle habits needed for sustainable weight loss.”

 

Is the soup diet suitable for everyone?

So, is there anyone who should avoid the soup diet? Our nutrition expert Amrit Kaur Khaneja suggests the following:

“Soup diets tend not to include exercise, the low calories may cause fatigue tiredness and fainting in anyone who is exercising.

If you are taking medication or have a specific health condition always consult your doctor before starting any liquid diet.”

 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 22 November 2021

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