Soup diet for weight loss: Is it effective?

Are you struggling to find a weight loss strategy that feels both manageable and effective? You might have heard about the soup diet, a simple approach that promises significant results. 

This blog provides a balanced perspective on the soup diet to help you make an informed decision.

Through a balanced perspective, this guide will equip you with essential information, empowering you to make an informed decision about incorporating the soup diet into your lifestyle. 

Your journey to understanding and possibly adopting this unique dietary approach begins here as we explore whether a bowl of soup can be a key to weight loss success.

What is the soup diet?

The Soup Diet, also known as “souping,” primarily involves consuming soups for weight loss. This diet varies in duration, types of soups, and whether soups are eaten alone or alongside other foods [1]. 

A popular variation is the cabbage soup diet, where cabbage soup is the main component, often consumed for a week to aid in weight loss. 

Per Eating Well, dietician Lauren Manaker said “While there are no clinical trials published in medical journals that confirm whether the cabbage soup diet truly helps people lose up to 10 pounds in seven days, the internet is filled with people sharing that they have, indeed, lost weight when they followed these dietary restrictions.”

Other variations include different main ingredients or soup types tailored to specific dietary needs or preferences.

Soups in these diets are usually low in calories and can be diverse. For instance, some diets might focus on broth-based soups with bone marrow with vegetables, while others might use pureed or chunky vegetable soups. 

The key is that these soups are designed to create a feeling of fullness, potentially reducing overall calorie intake, which is central to their role in weight loss plans.

However, it’s important to note that while souping can be an effective tool for weight loss, it’s essential to ensure nutritional balance. 

These diets should be well-planned to include a variety of nutrients and avoid excessive sodium intake, often high in canned or pre-made soups. 

How does the soup diet work?

How does the soup diet work?

The soup diet, primarily a low-calorie eating plan, works on the principle of promoting fullness while reducing overall calorie intake [2]. 

Soups, typically rich in water and fiber, can create a sense of satiety, reducing hunger and, consequently, reducing calorie consumption. This is essential in weight loss, as controlling calorie intake is a fundamental aspect.

Compared to other dieting methods, the soup diet is unique for its simplicity and the comfort of consuming warm, satiating meals.

Unlike some diets focusing on macronutrient manipulation (like low-carb or high-protein diets), the soup diet emphasizes low-calorie, nutrient-rich meals. 

This approach can be particularly appealing for those seeking a straightforward and comforting way to reduce calorie intake without requiring extensive dietary tracking or complex meal planning.

The soup diet can aid in short-term weight loss, but its long-term efficacy and nutritional balance should be considered. 

Unlike comprehensive dietary plans that aim at overall lifestyle changes, the soup diet is more of a short-term strategy focused on quick results. 

Integrating a balanced diet with regular physical activity is crucial​​for sustainable weight loss and health.

Diet typeFocusBenefitsDrawbacks
Soup dietLow-calorie soupsSimple, satiating, quick weight lossNutritional imbalance, not sustainable long-term
Cabbage soup dietCabbage soupRapid weight loss, simplicityMonotonous, lacks variety, short-term solution
Smoothie dietMeal replacement with smoothiesEasy meal prep, nutrient-richMay lack satiety, potential for nutrient gaps
Paleo dietWhole foods, no processed foodsEncourages healthy eating, balanced dietRestrictive, may be hard to sustain
Mediterranean dietHealthy fats, fruits, vegetablesHeart-healthy, diverse, sustainableRequires cooking, may be higher in calories
Intermittent fastingCycles of eating and fastingFlexible, can reduce overall calorie intakeMay lead to overeating in eating windows
This table provides a high-level comparison of these diets. Each diet has unique characteristics that may suit different preferences and goals.

What are the benefits of the soup diet?

Nutrient-rich and weight management

Soup diets are a popular weight loss strategy due to their low-calorie yet nutrient-dense composition. 

A hallmark of these diets is the emphasis on soups rich in vegetables, providing essential vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber. This nutrient-packed approach supports weight loss and enhances overall health.

Satiety and caloric control

Soup diets are effective in promoting satiety. Soups, mainly those high in fiber and protein, help you feel fuller for extended periods. 

This can lead to a natural reduction in daily calorie intake, a critical factor in weight loss. Studies indicate that regular soup consumption is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and reduced likelihood of obesity [3].

Improved digestive health

Most soup diets focus on broths rich in fibrous vegetables, beans, lentils, and lean meats, which are beneficial for digestive health. The high water content in soups also contributes to hydration, further aiding the digestive process.

Versatility and convenience

The soup diet is versatile and convenient, suitable for various dietary preferences and lifestyles. 

With various recipes available, from immune-boosting to vegetable-rich options, soups can be tailored to individual tastes and health needs. 

This adaptability ensures the soup diet can be a sustainable and enjoyable part of a weight loss journey.

Complementary to a balanced diet

While soups are central to this diet, they are most effective when part of a balanced diet that includes other nutrient-rich foods. 

Incorporating fruits, lean proteins, and a healthy breakfast ensures a well-rounded intake of essential nutrients, supporting weight loss and overall health.

What are the potential side effects and risks of the soup diet?

Nutritional deficiencies

The soup diet, while effective in the short term for weight loss, presents significant risks due to its restrictive nature. 

Primarily, it lacks sufficient protein, which is essential for maintaining muscle mass. Sedentary individuals need at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight [4], and this diet often needs to meet this requirement. 

Additionally, the limited fat content in the soup diet could lead to increased internal inflammation, posing risks for cardiovascular and digestive diseases and hormonal disturbances. 

Men, in particular, may experience decreased testosterone production due to low intake of saturated lipids [5].

Impact on the immune system

Another concern is the reduction of essential micronutrients like vitamins A, E, C, and D, which are crucial for a healthy immune system. 

The diet’s limited variety can diminish these vital nutrients, increasing the risk of infections and diseases.

Metabolic and psychological effects

The soup diet can also lead to a ‘rebound effect’, where the extreme restriction leads to subsequent overeating and rapid weight regain [6], often in more significant amounts than lost.

This yo-yo dieting pattern is not only ineffective for long-term weight management but can also alter metabolic functions and increase disease risk.

Physical side effects

Physical side effects like fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and even fainting can occur due to the diet’s low calorie and nutrient content. 

Furthermore, extended adherence to this diet can lead to severe complications like anemia, particularly from deficiencies in iron and vitamin B12, which are predominantly found in animal-based foods.

Physical side effects

Electrolyte imbalance

Lastly, the soup diet can cause electrolyte imbalances, including deficiencies in potassium and sodium. 

Inadequate sodium can lead to hyponatremia, a condition characterized by low blood sodium levels.

Who should and should not do the soup diet?

The soup diet is restrictive and lacks specific essential nutrients. It could be a short-term option for some, but more appropriate and sustainable methods exist for everyone’s weight loss journey. 

If you’re considering this diet, it’s highly recommended that you consult your healthcare provider or dietitian. They can provide personalized advice and ensure your diet aligns with your health needs and goals.

Suitable candidates for the soup diet

The soup diet might be a temporary solution if you’re looking for a quick way to kick-start weight loss. It’s particularly suitable for individuals who:

  • Prefer simple meal preparations.
  • Enjoy a variety of soups.
  • Are looking to quickly shed a few pounds for a short-term goal, like an upcoming event.

This diet can act as a motivator, providing initial rapid weight loss, which might boost your confidence and encourage you to adopt longer-term, sustainable eating habits.

Who should avoid the soup diet?

However, it’s crucial to recognize that the soup diet is unsuitable for everyone. Avoid this diet if you [7]:

  • Have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or kidney problems.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the diet lacks vital nutrients required during these stages.
  • Have a history of eating disorders. The restrictive nature of this diet could trigger unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Are seeking a long-term weight loss solution. The soup diet is designed for short-term use and may not provide sustained weight loss results.
  • Require a high-protein diet, especially athletes and individuals engaged in heavy physical work or bodybuilding.

What to do and not do while on a soup diet?

While the soup diet can be a tool for quick weight loss, it’s crucial to approach it with a balanced perspective. Here are some best practices while following this diet:

What to do

  1. Opt for various vegetables, lean meats, and beans in your soups. This variety ensures you get a range of nutrients despite the diet’s restrictive nature.
  2. Soups contain water, but remember to drink additional water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  3. Focus on vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli. They are low in calories but high in essential nutrients and fiber.
  4. Just because it’s soup doesn’t mean it’s free from calories. Keep an eye on your portion sizes to ensure you’re not overeating.
  5. Plan to follow it for a limited period, typically not more than a few weeks, as this diet is designed for short-term use. 

What not to do

  1. Avoid high-calorie soups like creamy or those loaded with noodles, rice, or high-fat ingredients. These can significantly increase the calorie content of your meals.
  2. Even though you’re on a soup diet, don’t skip meals. Regular consumption helps maintain metabolism and provides consistent energy levels.
  3. Avoid adding processed foods like crackers or chips to your soup. Stick to whole, natural ingredients.
  4. Feeling weak, dizzy, or unusually tired may indicate that the diet isn’t meeting your nutritional needs. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
  5. Due to its restrictive nature, the soup diet isn’t suitable for long-term nutritional needs. Transitioning to a more balanced diet for ongoing health and wellness is essential.

In closing

The soup diet offers a quick, short-term solution for weight loss, focusing on low-calorie, nutrient-rich soups. 

However, its restrictive nature demands careful consideration of your overall health and nutritional needs. 

Suitable for some as a temporary measure, it’s not a one-size-fits-all or a sustainable long-term solution. 

Always prioritize a balanced diet and consult a healthcare provider before starting any new dietary regimen. 

Your health journey is unique, and your choices should reflect your health goals and nutritional requirements.

FAQs

Can you lose weight on a soup diet?

Yes, you can lose weight on a soup diet as it typically involves low-calorie, nutrient-rich soups that promote satiety and reduce overall calorie intake. However, it’s often considered a short-term weight loss strategy unsuitable for long-term health goals.

Does the 7 day soup diet work?

The 7-day soup diet can lead to short-term weight loss due to its low-calorie soup-based meals. However, it’s not a sustainable long-term solution and may not provide balanced nutrition​.

Which soups are best for weight loss?

Soups best for weight loss are typically low in calories and high in fiber, like vegetable soup, spinach soup, and minestrone. They offer essential nutrients while promoting satiety, aiding in maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss​.

Can you lose belly fat by eating soup?

Eating soup as part of a calorie-controlled diet can help lose belly fat. High-fiber soups like vegetable or lentil soup promote fullness, reducing overall calorie intake and aiding in fat loss, particularly around the belly​.

[1] https://www.everlywell.com/blog/weight-management/what-is-souping-for-weight-loss/
[2] https://www.verywellfit.com/soup-diet-how-it-works-4589772
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3787030/
[4] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33741447/
[6] https://www.obesityaction.org/resources/the-risks-of-the-crash-diet/
[7] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/the-cabbage-soup-diet

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.