Starting meals with low calorie soup can help you lose weight

Healthy Living Help: Eating Low-Calorie Soup Before Meals Can Help You Lose Weight

Low calorie soup is making a comeback these days. Whether it’s a no calorie soup diet, the best fat burning soup, or a heart healthy cabbage soup recipe, everyone seems to be talking about tasty soups for weight loss. So is soup the newest superfood? And can eating soup actually help you lose weight?

You might be surprised to learn that low calorie soup can actually contribute to weight control. There is actual science to back this up, so it’s not just a diet fad. But you can’t just eat any old soup and expect to lose weight. There are specific types of soup that will help you control your weight. And you have to eat them at the right time. Even if you’re already eating soup for weight loss, you may not be getting the benefits. You could be eating the wrong kind of soup, or maybe the right soup at the wrong time.

Read on to learn the evidence-based way to low calorie soup can help you lose weight. Done right, eating soup can be an effective strategy for weight loss programs that really work.

What Happened to Soup as a First Course?

When I was in high school, I remember the school cafeteria serving really massive lunches. They always started with a bowl of soup. It wasn’t anything fancy. No cream or cheese. And usually there wasn’t even any meat. It was just a thin broth with some diced vegetables added. But this small portion of vegetable soup was so welcome, especially in the colder months of the year. It made me feel warm inside and, despite seeming insubstantial, it really helped to fill me up.

Later when I worked in a hospital, I always ate at the cafeteria whenever I was on duty. There too, every meal began with soup. Though I tended to favour the creamy soups, there was also a thinner vegetable soup on offer at every meal. Again, never a very large portion. It was always just enough soup to give you a taste. Serving soup was a way to prime your body for digesting the rest of the meal.

I never really got into the habit of eating that bowl of soup before a meal at home, though. And that’s one thing I wish I could go back and change. There’s just something that seems right about eating soup before the main course. It makes the meal feel somehow more civilized. And it turns out that eating low calorie soup at the beginning of your dinner offers health benefits too. Science now shows eating a soup course can help you eat less during the rest of the meal.



Do North Americans Eat Low Calorie Soup?

Sometimes I feel like “soup” is just an ingredient we add to a crock pot recipe. And that may be true. Statistics collected for soup manufacturers show an ongoing decline in soup consumption. In 2011, only 64% of US households ate soup at least once in six months. Even fewer consumed soup on a weekly basis. (“Heavy” soup consumption means eating soup four or more times per month, or weekly on average.) Just 34% of Americans are heavy users of soup.

By comparison, the average Japanese household eats soup seven times a week. Close to half of Europeans, for their part, eat soup three to four times each week.

I couldn’t find specific data for Canadians. But I did learn that declining soup sales are an issue north of the 49th, as well. That’s due to competition from other products such as noodles, and a preference for homemade soup.

How North Americans Eat Soup

At the beginning of this discussion, I mentioned that low calorie soups were making a comeback. But we’ve seen that North Americans aren’t buying soup. If we’re eating homemade soup, what kind of soup is it? From what I can see, a lot of that soup is thick and heavy. We’re leaning towards hearty main-course soups. We aren’t really eating the kind of low calorie soups that make up a light, first course.

Look for soups on Pinterest, and you’ll find pages of really filling soups. There are creamy squash soups, roasted tomato soups, and cheesy broccoli soups. I scrolled through multiple pages of soups with added cream and cheese. Even the“skinny” soups were a meal all by themselves.

There were “weight loss” soups that started with 8 or even 10 cups of vegetables, but maybe only 6 cups of soup stock. These soups would be so filling that you wouldn’t need to eat anything else afterwards! With recipes like these, it’s a safe bet that most North Americans aren’t eating even the homemade soup more than a few times a month.

Preloading with Low Calorie Soup Reduces Calorie Intake

The thing is, we really ought to get back to eating soup every day. Scientists tested the effects of eating low calorie soup before a meal, and they discovered that this “preloading” cuts down on how much we eat at the meal. People who eat soup before the main dish tend to feel more full. And that means they eat fewer total calories during the meal than if they hadn’t eaten soup at all.

Even when the calories from the soup are counted, the total calorie intake for the meal is lower. Which is good news if you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to maintain a healthy body weight, particularly during the Christmas season.

In order to benefit from this reduced calorie intake, it’s important to choose low calorie soups. That is, soups that are broth-based with vegetables in them. They should supply no more than 100 to 150 calories per serving. Avoid soups that are higher in calories, especially cream-based soups. These can actually lead to you eating more calories at your meal, instead of fewer.

Healthy Resolutions for 2018

Are you making any health resolutions for 2018? If you are, I hope you’ll allow me to suggest two resolutions based on recent discussions here at 24 Carrot Diet:

  1. First of all, try to eat at least one dark green vegetable each day. If you can, add an orange fruit or vegetable, as well. If not, at least try alternating between the orange and the green foods so you can keep a steady supply of vitamin A;

  2. Secondly, start adding low calorie soup to your diet on a regular basis. You don’t have to do it every day at first. Try making one batch of healthy vegetable soup a week, and just eat a small bowl to the beginning of meals whenever you feel like it. Even if you only do it once or twice a week at first, it’s probably an improvement. And any step in the right direction is going to help establish a healthy habit.

Remember to also think of your friends and family when you’re making these positive changes for your health. If you bring food to a gathering, choose a dish that incorporates those orange or dark green vegetables. If you’re hosting a dinner party or a family Christmas dinner, serve that low calorie soup as a first course. You’ll be helping your loved ones to make their first steps towards a healthier year for 2018 as well!




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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

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31 thoughts on “Healthy Living Help: Eating Low-Calorie Soup Before Meals Can Help You Lose Weight”

  1. I wish I had read this before I went grocery shopping an hour ago! I’m trying to lose weight, so I bought plenty of fruits, and the only veggies I got were carrots and potatoes. Definitely forgot to buy green veggies! I love soup as well, but I think I’d like to try making my own now. I’m pinning this page for later!
    Desire Anne recently posted…Christian Siriano Affordable Designer Purse ReviewMy Profile

    1. We make almost all of our own soups – everything from frugal soup stock that uses up our kitchen scraps, to copycat chicken gnocchi soup. I’ve shared a couple of great soup recipes here on 24 Carrot Diet, and there are more to come soon! If you like creamy vegetable soups, my Squash & Ginger Soup Recipe is quite unique, and it’s only just over 101 calories per serving if you make it with 2% milk. So even though it’s creamy, it’s still a good choice for eating before a meal 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing all this information – every thing else I’ve read about low-cal soups have not been this informative. I’m currently doing intermittent fasting and was thinking of putting in a low-cal soup for lunch, but I don’t want to deprive my body of too much!

    1. Fasting and dieting can be tricky! You’re right to want to watch out that you don’t deprive your body too much, because that can backfire on you in a couple of different ways. Soup for lunch is a good idea, especially a soup that’s rich in high-fibre vegetables. It will help you feel full longer. And it’s a great way to partially make up for any nutrients you might not be getting due to the fasting.

    1. Awesome, Helen! I’m glad you found it helpful. We love soup in our house too. I’m going to make a point to include more low calorie soup in our meals this year. I think it will be healthy for all of us 🙂

    1. Unfortunately, most creamy soups have extra fat and calories. So they aren’t good for weight loss. The calories from the soup just end up replacing the other foods you’re not eating 🙁

      The neat thing is that with some soups, like my Carrot & Cauliflower Soup, the creaminess comes from the vegetables instead of from adding actual cream. So a portion of that soup is under 100 calories, even though it’s creamy 🙂

    1. That’s an interesting insight about the food temperature, Sara. I know hot lemon water used to be really popular for cutting your appetite, back in the late 80s or so. I always found that I’d feel more full if I drank it at the start of a meal.

  3. Oh, Very important piece of information. I remember as well when I was a kid we used to always start our meal with soup first. And yes, it wasn’t anything fancy, just chicken broth with some cooked pasta in it.
    I will try to go back to our traditions.
    Thank you for reminding us with it❤️❤️

  4. We try to have a simple homemade soup at least once a week in our home, such as simple chicken broth or egg drop soup during the fall & winter, and a light salad during the spring & summer. It’s made such a huge difference in how we feel since we’ve started incorporating this into our regular weekly meals and has really helped in keep shedding a couple of pounds.

  5. I do love a good soup! I can have a nice hearty bowl full of vitamins and minerals which is so important this time of year. It’s great you can have a low-cal soup and still get all the nutrients you need. I always chop fresh garlic into my soup as an added antimicrobial agent.

  6. I LOVE soup! Especially at this time of year. In fact, I have a small pot of tomato-basil soup making itself on the stove right now. It will, as you point, be lunch tomorrow and Friday. I do, however, also love a good miso soup for breakfast and tend to have soup almost daily. On a similar trend, I grew up eating a small side salad before dinner every night. I think that probably helps to curb the appetite as well and can contribute to weight loss if we forgo the heavy dressings. It’s a habit I’ve carried into adulthood and have ingrained in my son.

    1. Yes indeed, Cris, I believe salads before a meal are another great way to control our caloric intake. As for the salad dressings, did you know that the oil in a simple vinaigrette actually helps your body better use the fat-soluble vitamins in the salad greens? So it’s actually a good idea to add a tiny bit of oil to a salad. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should drown the whole bowl with thick, creamy salad dressings!

  7. I really like this idea. It reminds me of filling up on water but tastier! I love soup and to make a yummy veggie low cal soup is so easy! Great article

    1. Drinking water before a meal is a great idea, as well. And of course, many of us are not hydrating often enough. So it serves a dual purpose. I like to think eating vegetable soup is that same. It helps to control our appetites, but it’s also a great way to get more veggies into our diet. So few of us eat enough vegetables….

  8. Low-calorie vegetable soup is a great way to lose weight. I have been doing it for a while now. I stuck with eating vegetables at every meal no matter where I ate. I think a small bowl of soup is a great way to start it off. I know where I am from we tend to eat soup with a sandwich. The sandwich depends on what kind of soup- is made.
    Sandy KS recently posted…Welcome to my new blogMy Profile

    1. I’m glad to hear the soup before meals is helping you lose weight. You are obviously getting the benefits of all those healthy vegetables, Sandy! You look fabulous 🙂

      Happy New Year to you, and may 2018 be a blessed year for you!

    1. I think it’s just natural that we get more fibre and complex carbs if we eat a vegetable soup course. And it tends to slow down the pace of our meal, as well. I’m sure that also has an impact on how much we eat, since our bodies have time to start feeling full before the meal is over.

    1. We eat greens like crazy in the summer. They’re much harder to come by here in the winter. I am trying to replace them with brassicas and more orange vegetables. But it’s still a challenge! I’m hoping the soup will provide more opportunities to squeeze in a few veggies we might otherwise skip.

  9. In a way, that is why I recommend to people who are trying to lose weight but just can’t help filling themselves with food at mealtime, to drink two glasses of water a half-hour before dinner. The stomach feels fuller when food is actually eaten.

    1. How awesome! It’s great when you discover a new blogger through one of Janice’s linkups. I’ll have to let her know how much they help.

      I’m so glad you like the resolution ideas, Betty. I hope you’ll find lots of other great helps on the blog too. Looking forward to checking out your blog, as well 🙂

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