Controlling your hunger is an important factor in managing your weight. Having a bowl of soup as a snack mid-afternoon or before the evening meal can help curb your hunger, prevent over-eating, and help you stay in control of portions, all of which are crucial to losing weight. Scientists have used MRI and ultrasound scans of people’s stomachs to investigate what happens after eating solid-food-plus-water meals compared with the same food made into sou. Research for the BBC programme on the Science of Weight Loss showed that soup helps you stave off those hunger pangs’10 Things You Need to Know About Losing Weight’ showed that soup helps you stave off those hunger pangs.
The same food was served to two groups of soldiers. Half ate chicken, rice and vegetable on a plate with a glass of water. The other half ate the identical food and water liquidized and served as a soup. The stomach gradually empties, more slowly for the soup than the solid meal plus water. In the BBC programme stomach scans showed the soup still in the stomach long after the other group’s stomachs were empty and calling to be fed. The scientists’ scans confirm that the stomach stays fuller for longer, staving off those hunger pangs.
When you eat the same meal as a soup, the whole mixture remains in the stomach, because the water and food are blended together. Water on its own, however, passes straight through the sphincter to your intestines, so drinking water does not contribute in the same way to ‘filling you up’.
And a study at Pennsylvania State University found that when participants in the study ate a first course of soup before a meal, they reduced their total calorie intake by 20 per cent, compared with those who did not begin the meal with soup.
Soup is a high volume, low energy food; it provides the feeling of satiety and fullness, without the extra calories often found in larger meals or less healthy, convenient snacks. A snack should be less than 150 calories and soup is typically around 100 calories.
Does a Soup Only Diet Work? A cabbage soup diet programme for example, contains very few calories, the less you eat, the more you lose, but can you only be eating soup? Where does nutrition come in? How long can you maintain it for? It’s a what would be called a starvation diet, which slows the body’s metabolism down. So in conclusion, best to use a diet soup as a snack or before the main meal of the day.
The best sort? Vegetable soup, as generally lower calorie than chicken or fish soup or creamy soups. Having 5-10g protein in the soup will also help as protein helps to switch off hunger signals in our brain quickly. And fibre in the soup also keeps you fuller for longer.
More details on soup for dieting.