Soup in a Weight Loss Diet
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Soup is often listed as one of the foods it’s a good idea to add to your diet if you want to lose weight.
But with so many different varieties to choose from, ranging from thin consommés to rich, creamy soups – not to mention myriad slimming soups from cabbage to crazy – many of us are left wondering what the best soup for weight loss is.
What’s the Truth about Soup and Weight Loss
Increasingly, research has revealed that consuming soup improves satiety (the feeling of fullness at the end of a meal) so that we eat less and take in fewer calories which is great for weight loss.
Eating soup appears to be far more effective – and a whole lot tastier – than drinking a glass of water with a meal to help fill us up, the latter of which is often a top diet tip.
In a study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers asked women to eat chicken casserole, chicken casserole with a glass of water, or chicken casserole with the same amount of water added to make a soup. They were then allowed to eat whatever they liked for lunch.
Those women who ate the soup consumed around 100 fewer calories at lunchtime – enough to shift 10lb in a year – and didn’t compensate by eating more during the rest of the day. It’s thought that when water is consumed separately from food it satisfies thirst not hunger. But when it’s mixed with chunky ingredients, the body handles it like food.
This study isn’t a one-off either. In another study carried out by the same researchers, when adults received a bowl of low-calorie vegetable soup 15 minutes before a pasta lunch, they consumed 20 percent fewer calories in the complete meal. Even though the soup provided 150 calories, overall they consumed 135 fewer calories for the entire meal.
Which Soups Should I Eat for Weight Loss?
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for chicken or vegetable soup, canned or fresh. What’s most important when you’re slimming is the overall calorie content – soup calories still count!
It’s better to avoid rich soups that are laden with cream and instead opt for low fat and low calorie choices such as vegetable, tomato, mushroom, chicken and carrot soups. A healthy vegetable soup will also help you get the recommended 5 a day portions of fruit and veg in your diet.
Opting for soup as a starter when you’re eating out whilst trying to lose weight may also be a good idea, helping you to eat less of the main course – and filling you up so you don’t have room for dessert.
How Much Soup Should I Eat?
As a guideline, women should make sure their serving of soup contains less than 150 calories, and men 200 calories, when having it as a starter before a main meal.
Most ready-made soups contain nutrition information per serving on the packaging so use this to help you make sensible choices – and remember to add soup into your food diary.
Also, bear in mind that ready-made soups can be high in salt so choose those with lower amounts. Anything with 0.3g salt per 1200g or less is considered to be low in salt; anything with more than 1.5g salt per 100g is a high-salt food.