A soup diet is generally a short-term eating plan that’s designed to help individuals lose weight quickly.
Instead of one official soup diet, there are several soup-based diets. While some involve only eating soup for the duration of the diet, others also include a limited list of allowable foods.
As the idea is to lose weight quickly, most of these diets are only meant to last for 5–10 days.
This article reviews different types of soup diets, pros and cons of these diets, and whether a soup diet is effective for weight loss.
There are many types of soup diets, with some of the more popular ones listed below. Just keep in mind that there’s currently no research on the effectiveness of these specific diets.
Broth-based soup diet
Broth-based soup diets generally last for 7 days. However, some can last as long as 10–14 days. Over that time, proponents of a broth-based diet claim you can lose up to 10 or even 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kg).
On a broth-based soup diet, cream-based soups are restricted, as they’re higher in calories and fat. Instead, you’re encouraged to consume homemade or canned broth-based soups that include vegetables and protein.
While some programs recommend only consuming broth-based soups, others may allow for small amounts of low calorie options like lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and nonfat dairy.
Bean soup diet
One of the more popular bean soup diets is from Michael Greger, MD, author of “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease.”
The diet encourages eating Dr. Greger’s Champion Vegetable Bean Soup up to twice a day. In addition to the soup, you’re allowed to consume any oil-free, plant-based foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
While there’s no calorie restriction, the diet recommends limiting intake of calorie-dense foods like dried fruits and nuts for optimal weight loss results.
Unlike other soup diets, Greger’s is meant to be a lifelong shift to a plant-based diet.
Proponents of this diet claim you can lose 9–16 pounds (4–7 kg) in just the first week.
Cabbage soup diet
One of the most popular soup diets, the cabbage soup diet is a 7-day eating plan that involves eating a chicken- or vegetable-broth-based soup that contains cabbage and other low carb vegetables.
In addition to cabbage soup, you can also have one or two other low calorie foods, such as skim milk or leafy greens.
If following the meal plan closely, the diet claims you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) over the 7 days.
Chicken soup diet
The chicken soup diet is a 7-day weight loss diet that involves eating chicken soup for every meal except breakfast.
For your morning meal, you can pick from five low calorie options, which include foods like nonfat milk and yogurt, fat-free cheese, whole-grain cereal or bread, and fresh fruit.
For the rest of the day, the diet recommends consuming frequent small portions of homemade chicken soup throughout the day. By eating small, frequent portions of soup, the diet claims it will help reduce cravings and encourage feelings of fullness.
The soup itself is low in calories and carbs, as it’s made with broth, cooked chicken, aromatics like garlic and onion, and plenty of non-starchy vegetables, including carrots, turnips, broccoli, and collard greens.
Keto soup diet
Designed for those following the ketogenic (keto), paleo, Whole30, or another low carb diet, the keto soup diet claims it can help individuals lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in just 5 days.
As with the general keto diet, the soup version is a low carb, high fat, moderate protein eating plan. The program provides 1,200–1,400 calories per day, limits carbs to 20 grams per day, and restricts nuts, dairy, and artificial sweeteners.
The plan recommends eating the same breakfast each day, which consists of eggs, butter, bacon, avocado, and unsweetened bulletproof coffee. One low carb, high fat snack is also allowed, such as celery with keto-friendly tuna salad.
The rest of the day, you eat four cups of the keto soup, split between lunch and dinner. The soup recipe includes ingredients like chicken, bacon, olive oil, chicken stalk, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and other low carb vegetables and herbs.
Sacred Heart soup diet
Similar to the cabbage soup diet, the Sacred Heart soup diet is a 7-day eating plan that consists almost entirely of a broth-based soup with non-starchy vegetables.
While other low calorie foods are allowed, the diet is very specific as to which foods can be included each day.
When followed closely, the Sacred Heart soup diet claims to help you lose 10–17 pounds (4.5–8 kg) in 1 week.
There are several types of soup diets. While some are more restrictive in what you can eat, like the cabbage soup diet, others allow for more flexibility, like the bean soup diet.
Observational studies have found individuals who regularly consume soup tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and are less likely to have obesity, compared with those who don’t eat soup at all (
The reason why soup is linked to lower body weight is unknown. Some studies suggest that soup may help increase feelings of fullness. Thus, regularly eating soup may help reduce the number of calories you eat per day (
It’s also important to consider other factors that could explain this relationship, such as cultural or genetic differences between individuals who regularly eat soup and those who don’t (
Overall, more rigorous and long-term studies are needed to confirm the potential weight loss benefits of eating soup.
One other thing to note is that soup consumption hasn’t been shown to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase your risk for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes (
As for specific soup diets, there’s currently no scientific evidence on their effectiveness for weight loss.
And the fewer calories you eat on a soup diet, generally the more weight you’ll lose.
Just keep in mind that as with other low calorie diets, most of the weight lost over the 5–10 days is likely due to water rather than fat loss (
As the bean soup diet recommends transitioning into a plant-based eating pattern, it may have better long-term success than the others.
Regularly consuming soup has been linked to a lower body weight. However, there’s insufficient research on the benefits of soup diets for weight loss. Still, due to the low calorie nature of these eating plans, you’ll likely lose some weight in the short term.
In addition to helping you lose weight quickly, soup diets may offer additional benefits, including:
- Increased vegetable intake. Vegetables provide essential vitamins and beneficial plant-compounds. Plus, increased intake has been linked to a reduced risk of weight gain and obesity (
- Increased fiber intake. As they’re often high in vegetables, and sometimes contain beans, whole grains, or fruits, these diets can provide a decent amount of fiber, which may help reduce appetite (
- Increased water intake. These diets can improve water intake throughout the day. In addition to supporting numerous essential functions in the body, research suggests increased water intake may aid in weight loss efforts (
- Easy to follow. As with other trendy diets, soup diets generally have strict guidelines that make them easy to follow.
- Encourage plant-based eating. Some, like the bean soup diet, can help you transition into a more plant-based eating pattern. Eating a plant-based diet has been linked to a reduced risk of obesity and supporting weight loss (
However, keep in mind that just 1 or 2 weeks of increased vegetable, fiber, and water intake is unlikely to have any meaningful benefits for long-term weight and health, unless following the diet helps you make lasting lifestyle changes.
Soup diets are generally easy to follow and can help increase your intake of water, fiber, and vegetables. While these changes can be beneficial, you would need to maintain these increases to reap the long-term effects.
With the exception of Greger’s bean soup diet, one of the biggest downsides to soup diets is that most of them aren’t meant to be followed for more than 5–10 days.
Therefore, unless you have a more sustainable diet to transition to, you’ll likely regain any weight you lose on the diet.
Furthermore, studies suggest that when you greatly restrict calorie intake or lose a sustainable amount of weight quickly, there’s a reduction in your metabolic rate. This means that your body begins to burn fewer calories per day than it did before (
As a result, after going off the diet, your lowered metabolism may make it harder to maintain your weight loss.
Additionally, as soup diets like the cabbage soup diet and Sacred Heart diet are quite restrictive in the types and amounts of foods allowed, there’s a concern for nutrient deficiencies.
While eating a restricted diet for just 5 to 10 days is unlikely to result in serious nutrient deficiencies, especially if taking a multivitamin, significantly reducing calorie intake can lead to side effects, such as dizziness, weakness, or fatigue (
As most soup diets are only designed to last for 5 to 10 days, they aren’t sustainable weight loss solutions. Furthermore, the severe and rapid reduction in calories and weight can slow your metabolism, making it even harder to maintain your weight loss.
Soup diets have become popular for their ability to help you shed a significant amount of weight in just 5 to 10 days.
However, most of the weight lost on these diets is largely due to a loss of water rather than fat.
Furthermore, as these diets are only designed to be followed for a short period, you’ll likely regain any weight you were able to lose.
Instead, as eating soup may help curb your appetite and reduce calorie intake over the day, you’re likely better off simply incorporating soups into a balanced, less restrictive weight loss eating plan for long-term success.