Soup is the ultimate comfort food on a cold winter day. And it’s a food that, depending on which type you eat, is said to do everything from enhancing weight loss to healing the gut to treating the common cold.
Enter a recent fad called “souping”, eat blended soups, usually plant-based, for a certain number of days to increase energy, boost mood, improve complexion, jump-start your metabolism, banish body fat and all those other things that cleanses and detoxes claim to do.
Soup cleanses vary. Some advise replacing all daily meals and snacks with soup while other plans recommend pairing soup with small meals throughout the day. Other regimens rotate days of souping with days of eating healthy non-soup meals.
An all-soup cleanse is promoted as a healthier alternative to juicing. Unlike juice, ingredients in soup such as vegetables, legumes and nuts supply filling protein and fibre, which keep you feeling satisfied longer. They also supply a wider range of nutrients.
Soup and weight loss
Depending on your usual diet and your current weight, you may lose a few pounds by souping. But don’t set your expectations too high from a five to seven-day program.
Vegetable and bean soups typically deliver 150 to 200 calories per one cup serving. So, a day’s worth of soup can provide anywhere from 900 to 1200 calories which, for most people, is a recipe for weight loss.
Most clients I work with need more calories each day for healthy weight loss – 1400 to 1600 for women and 1900 to 2200 for men. Consuming too few calories can cause muscle loss, an effect that slows the body’s resting metabolism, making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it back.
(Resting metabolism is the number of calories the body burns at rest to perform its normal functions, such as breathing and keeping your heart and brain working.)
For this reason, I don’t recommend following a low-calorie soup cleanse for more than a week. As well, any short-term diet, or quick fix, isn’t a long-lasting solution to weight control.
Nutritional benefits of soup
That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of healthy soup. It’s my go-to lunch most days of the week this time of year.
Making a batch of soup on Sunday for weekday lunches is a delicious way to up my intake of plant-based protein (e.g., beans, lentils), vegetables, antioxidant-rich herbs and spices and water, too. Soup keeps me feeling full longer than a salad with chicken does and, in most cases, it does so with fewer calories.
Plus, research suggests you don’t need to swap soup for day’s worth of meals to lose excess pounds.
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that among 200 overweight men and women, those who included two servings of soup in their calorie-reduced diet lost 50 per cent more weight over one year than did study participants whose diets included two similar calorie servings of a dry snack (e.g., crackers, pretzels) instead the soup.
Because soup is water-based, its volume of liquid helps you feel satiated for fewer calories. To be effective, you need to choose a broth based soup that’s fairly low in calories.
What about bone broth?
Bone broth, sometimes called stock, has long been a staple of diets around the world. Only recently, though, has consuming the broth gained popularity for its cure-all properties.
It’s claimed that bone broth – made by simmering animal bones (beef, poultry or fish) for up to 24 hours (sometimes longer) – can, among many other things, improve gut health, ease joint pain, build stronger bones and strengthen immunity.
Proponents contend that it’s the collagen in bone broth that promotes bone, joint and gut health. (Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body; it’s found in bones, connective tissue, muscles and skin.)
Once consumed, the body breaks down collagen into amino acids, which are sent to wherever in the body they’re needed to synthesize proteins (e.g., muscle tissue, hormones, enzymes). In other words, consuming collagen in bone broth doesn’t mean its amino acids will end up as collagen in your bones, joints or gut.
What’s more, there’s scant, if any, evidence that sipping bone broth delivers any of it proposed health benefits. Without science, the claims are only theories.
That’s not to say that bone broth isn’t nutritious. It’s a source of protein and minerals including calcium, iron, potassium and iron.
But it’s not a “super food” (no food is). So, don’t expect miracles.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.