What Is the Soup Diet?

soup diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff 

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

The soup diet isn't just one diet, but rather a collection of soup-based eating plans that promise significant weight loss in a short amount of time. On some of these diets, you consume nothing but soup. On others, soup is the foundation of the eating plan, but you also include other prescribed foods in your meals. The details of each soup diet are different, but on average, a soup diet can last from five to 10 days.

Soup diets have been around for decades. One of the first soup-based eating plans to enter the mainstream was the cabbage soup diet, which became popular during the 1980s. On this plan, people follow a specific cabbage soup recipe and eat it for seven days with the goal of losing up to 10 pounds.

Since that time, other soup-based diets have emerged to accommodate different eating styles, tastes, and diet trends. For example, there are keto soup plans, paleo soup plans, vegetarian soup plans, and bean-based soup plans. Each of these plans claims to facilitate rapid weight loss.

Eating soup may help increase satiety and help you stay full, which might allow you to eat less overall. While this may lead to weight loss, there is no evidence that a soup-only diet could effectively support long-term weight management.

What Experts Say

"The concept of eating soup to lose weight has spanned decades, but experts say an all-soup diet lacks nutrients and is not sustainable. They do agree it can be smart to eat vegetable-packed soups for some meals though, as these are filling, nutrient-dense, and low in calories."

Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

What Can You Eat?

There are many variations of the soup diet. Each has different foods that are encouraged and foods that are limited or prohibited. Even though each plan is unique, there are certain trends among them.

On most soup diets, you eat three meals each day. Several of them require you to eat soup at every meal, including breakfast. Others allow you to consume one non-soup meal each day and two other meals that consist solely of soup. There is no specific timing required for meal consumption on most of the plans. Some (but not all) of the diets limit or entirely prohibit snacking.

For those who stick with a soup diet's eating plan for the prescribed period, quick weight loss is possible since you're restricting your number of daily calories. However, soup diets typically lack well-balanced nutrition and are not a solution for maintaining weight loss.

The soup diet may work for some people, but it is not recommended by many health professionals, particularly for long periods, because of its restrictive nature.

What You Need to Know

The following soup diets are well-known, but that doesn't mean they are healthy or effective plans for weight loss. That said, it's possible to include some components of these plans in a healthy lifestyle, such as drinking more water or incorporating the soup recipes as part of a balanced diet.

Basic Soup Diet

The basic soup diet allows any type of soup. This means that creamy soups and broth-based soups are both permitted. Canned and homemade soups are also included. Soups made with meat are typically encouraged along with plant-based soups. Other plans may include a specific recipe to follow and provide detailed instructions.

Most basic soup diets last seven days but others can last up to two weeks. Online claims report that you can lose 10 to 15 pounds during that time. The catch is you only eat soup.

Cabbage Soup Diet

This seven-day eating plan requires that you make a large batch of soup that includes cabbage as the main ingredient, but may also include tomato, onion, carrots, and either a chicken- or vegetable-based broth. Most websites promoting the cabbage soup plan claim that you can lose up to 10 pounds in one week if you follow the program precisely.

The cabbage soup diet also comes with a list of foods that are allowed and a list of foods to avoid. Most plans allow you to eat foods such as beef and skim milk but restrict foods such as bananas.

Sacred Heart Diet

On the Sacred Heart diet, followers consume a soup made with beef or chicken broth, green beans, celery, tomatoes, onions, and carrots. Foods eaten in addition to the soup include unsweetened fruit juice and brown rice in very specific amounts. For example, potatoes and tomatoes can only be eaten on certain days and only in measured amounts.

When this diet first became popular, proponents claimed it was associated with a medical center called Sacred Heart. However, those claims have never been substantiated. According to advocates for the diet, if you follow the plan exactly you can lose 10 to 17 pounds in seven days. However, health experts caution that rapid weight loss of this magnitude is potentially dangerous.

Bean Soup Diet

On the bean soup diet, followers consume vegetable bean soup made from ingredients including mushrooms, chili peppers, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, bell peppers, and celery. This soup recipe is more complex than others.

While following this program, people are advised to eat bean soup twice daily as main meals. Followers are also encouraged to drink plenty of water. People following the diet are advised to avoid or limit dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and avocados but are encouraged to consume most other oil-free and plant-based foods.

Keto Soup Diet

The keto soup diet often appeals to those following a ketogenic diet, a paleo diet, or a low-carb eating plan. The diet lasts five days and provides a daily intake of 1,200 to 1,400 calories and up to 20 grams of carbohydrates. Certain foods like nuts and dairy are off-limits.

The soup is made with ingredients including bacon, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, red wine, squash, and green beans. Some substitutions are allowed, but those who follow the diet are advised to avoid certain vegetables such as kale because they may "impede weight loss." However, this concern about kale is a questionable claim made by online proponents of the diet and is not supported by science.

One significant drawback of many soup-based weight loss programs is they do not include instructions regarding physical activity or a plan for transitioning to a long-term healthy eating program.

What to Eat
  • Chicken, vegetable, or beef broth

  • Green vegetables such as green beans and celery

  • Tomatoes

  • Seasonings

What Not to Eat
  • Sweet treats such as ice cream, baked goods, and candy

  • Heavily processed snack foods including chips and crackers

  • Dairy products such as cheese, cream, and ice cream

In general, most soup diets require that you make soup using a clear broth (such as chicken stock, vegetable stock, or beef stock) as the base. The soup diets that follow a low-carb eating plan use vegetables with a lower glycemic index (GI) including turnips, cauliflower, and collard greens. Generally, these diets avoid higher carbohydrate veggies such as carrots and potatoes.

Few soup plans allow followers to eat dairy. That means no cream in your coffee or glass of milk with your lunch. Some plans allow skim milk, but only on certain days. Likewise, followers can expect to avoid food items like chips, crackers, candy, and baked goods on any of these plans.

Almost any food that comes in a box or a wrapper is off-limits, with the exception of any store-bought broth, packaged proteins, or frozen veggies used to make the soups.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Boosts vegetable intake

  • May boost plant-based protein intake

  • May increase water intake

  • May boost satiety

Cons
  • May reduce caloric intake to unsafe levels

  • Discourages consumption of whole grains

  • Some plans exclude fruits

  • Often high in sodium

  • Overpromises short-term weight loss

  • No long-term healthy eating plan is provided

If you are not a person who regularly eats vegetables, a soup diet may help you consume more nutrient-rich veggies. General guidelines recommend that adults consume at least five servings of vegetables each day. Soup can be a great way to boost your intake.

If your soup diet includes a recipe without meat, you may also reap the benefits of consuming more plants. Studies have shown that plant-based eating may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions. However, keep in mind that a 7–10 day plant-based eating protocol is not likely to have a major long-term impact on your risk for disease. But, it could help you learn how to eat more vegetables.

The primary concern of following a soup diet is that it is not sustainable. In fact, these diets are not meant to be long term. Most of the programs last 10 days or less. In such a short amount of time, you can lose a substantial amount of weight, but the weight loss will likely come from water loss—not from fat loss.

Is a Soup Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The soup diet is similar to other diets based on single food groups (known as mono-diets). For example, there are pizza diets, smoothie diets, juice fasts, and even a taco diet. Almost all of these diets promise substantial short-term weight loss, but they are generally not sustainable.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines for Americans recommends consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and good fats like nuts and seeds for a healthy, balanced diet.

You may be able to consume food from each recommended food group on the soup diet, and you'll most likely increase your intake of vegetables. Depending on the recipes you follow, you might also increase your intake of plant-based protein. Soup diet proponents often recommend cooking with healthy fats, such as olive oil. However, few soup diet plans encourage the consumption of whole grains or any grains at all for that matter. In addition, most soup diets restrict the consumption of fruit.

The USDA recommends consuming an average of 1,500 calories a day for weight loss, but that number may vary based on your lifestyle, sex, current weight, and level of physical activity. Unlike other quick weight loss diets, you may be able to consume enough calories on a soup diet, but some soup diets advise that you consume 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day.

For some women who are trying to lose weight, that may be a reasonable calorie goal. Check with your doctor or nutritionist to determine the optimal caloric target that is best for you, and make sure that you're meeting it. You can also try this calculator tool to help determine your daily calorie needs.

Diets that include foods from just one food group are not considered healthy because they limit your ability to get a wide range of nutrients that your body needs. Plus, if you follow one of these programs and reduce your weight substantially in a week or two, the weight is likely to come back when you resume your regular eating regimen.

Health Benefits

Though evidence for soup-based diets is lacking, some research has found that eating soup as part of a regular diet may have some health benefits including weight loss. In a 2011 study, soup intake was associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and smaller waist circumference. However, the study was limited in that it only observed 103 men in Japan.

Another study found an association between soup consumption and lower body weight in U.S. adults. Researchers concluded that soup consumption may provide benefits for weight management.

However, neither of these studies investigated soup as the only type of food consumed. Additionally, any weight lost on a restrictive all-soup diet would likely return once normal eating habits are resumed.

Health Risks

Though there are no common risks associated with a soup diet, experts agree that an all-soup diet would eliminate otherwise healthy food groups and lead to nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. Some research indicates that restricting certain foods can also create an unhealthy relationship with food.

A Word From Verywell

While a delicious bowl of hot soup loaded up with protein and vegetables can be a healthy addition to any eating plan, a diet that eliminates other healthy food groups is generally not recommended for sustainable weight loss or wellness.

If you enjoy eating soup and would like to benefit from the advantages of incorporating more nutritious soups into your diet, experiment with making your own recipes at home along with other nutritious meals. A balanced diet combined with regular physical activity can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pan A, Hu F. Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: Differences between liquid and solid foodCurr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14(4):385-390. doi:10.1097/mco.0b013e328346df36

  2. Wright N, Wilson L, Smith M, Duncan B, Mchugh P. The BROAD study: A randomised controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease or diabetes. Nutr Diabetes. 2017;7(3):e256. doi:10.1038/nutd.2017.3

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020 – 2025 Dietary guidelines for Americans.

  4. Kuroda M, Ohta M, Okufuji T, et al. Frequency of soup intake is inversely associated with body mass index, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, but not with other metabolic risk factors in Japanese men. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(1):137-42. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.004

  5. Zhu Y, Hollis JH. Soup consumption is associated with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity but not metabolic syndrome in US adults: NHANES 2003-2006PLoS One. 2013;8(9):e75630. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075630

  6. Meule A. The psychology of food cravings: the role of food deprivationCurr Nutr Rep. 2020;9(3):251-257. doi:10.1007/s13668-020-00326-0