The soup diet guarantees ten to 20 pounds of weight loss in only one week, but this sounds too good to be true. This diet dictates followers eat only one thing: as many low-calorie vegetable soups as they’d like for one week. It’s nicknamed The Model’s Diet. Though healthy people can probably persevere on nothing but vegetable soup for seven days, some people need to proceed with caution when trying diets like this one. Regardless of sustainability, though, is the soup diet healthy?
The Soup Diet: Losing More Than Fat
Advocates of the soup diet endorse it because it seems like an easy way to lose weight. This can be true because it calls for extreme calorie limitations. However, it’s important to recognize that fat isn’t the only thing you’ll lose. A large majority of the weight is water weight, which will be quickly regained once the diet is over. Also, Harvard Medical School found people who don’t exercise while on the soup diet — often due to reduced energy from lower caloric intake — can experience muscle loss, which also lowers weight.
Soup is High in Sodium
Too much salt is never healthy, and eating soups high in sodium while on the soup diet can sabotage the weight loss work and supposed health benefits. While it tastes great, salt causes weight gain, water retention, and bloating. Unfortunately, sodium-free soups aren’t nearly as tasty, and this lack of palatability can make this diet a difficult one to complete.
Flatulence from Soup Ingredients
Bacteria that lead to flatulence flourish in some foods, particularly the vegetables and cabbage found in soups acceptable for the soup diet. People sensitive to this effect may experience increases in their microbiota, which results in gas. It is possible for some to uphold a steady gut flora balance, however, and avoid these issues. Herbs like cumin, chamomile flowers, and ginger can help alleviate flatulence.
Pregnant women and people who need to closely monitor their nutrition due to an existing medical condition should not attempt the soup diet. Eating only soup simply does not supply enough key nutrients to keep the body healthy. Cabbage soup is far too low in protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, and as such, people should not remain on the diet for more than the suggested week. Lack of essential nutrients can leave people feeling weak and fatigued, and will certainly negatively impact health over the long term.
Negative Metabolism Effects
Since the soup diet is a type of crash diet, people who undertake it are likely to gain back some of the pounds lost almost immediately after going back to regular foods. In some cases, the soup diet and its effects on the metabolism can cause harm — yo-yo diets like this are risky as they tend to cause extra abdominal weight that’s even harder to lose and is scientifically linked to various serious medical conditions.
It’s a Crash Diet
Crash diets often bring people’s red flags right up. Those who try the soup diet should take breaks from it and incorporate all necessary nutrients into their diets. This particular diet is questionable because it can be hard to tell what actually caused the weight loss. Did the person lose weight because of the soup or because of the food groups they no longer ate?
Criticism of the Soup Diet
People have trouble sticking with this diet for many reasons. There’s no variety, and people must eat essentially the same food throughout the week, quickly leaving them feeling bored and unfulfilled. Some people find themselves feeling dizzy, faint, sluggish, and slow while on the diet, and it can cause stomach and headaches in addition to triggering gallbladder attacks and lowering metabolism. The soup diet can even increase the risk of muscle tone loss, hair loss, irritability, and bad breath.
Not for People with Diabetes
Though many medical practitioners suggest everyone avoids the soup diet, for people with diabetes, the effects can be even more detrimental. People with diabetes must maintain normal blood glucose levels, which are provided in part by healthy carbohydrates, of which the soup diet has almost none. It is possible to supplement the soup diet with essential nutrients if someone with a condition like diabetes is set on trying it.
Contraindications: Blood Thinners
The soup diet can also be particularly dangerous to those on blood thinners. Cabbage has a great deal of vitamin K, and foods high in vitamin K can conflict with blood thinners due to the vitamin’s opposing effect — helping blood clot.
The Soup Diet and Heart Problems
To lose weight on the soup diet, people need to ensure sodium levels are kept low. This is even more vital for individuals with heart problems, as excess sodium can adversely affect blood pressure. While soups may be acceptable for these people in moderation, they should not make up a large part of their diets.