A broth-based soup filled with lean chicken and vegetables makes a healthy addition to any balanced diet plan, including one focused on weight loss. However, following a vegetable chicken soup diet that limits your intake to only soup may not be the solution to your weight woes.
The Allure of Fad Diets
Weight loss is a billion dollar industry. However, many dieters are choosing to do it themselves. And why not? With so many free diet plans available on the internet, you can easily find a plan that suits your needs and can help you lose the weight.
Unfortunately, the type of diet plan that draws you in may be one that promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine so you lose weight fast, and all without having to work out. All you have to do is follow this rigid diet plan and eat these same foods over and over again for a week, a month or whatever time frame the diet plan sets to help you drop all those pounds. Sounds great, right?
Any diet that promises fast weight loss with limited food choices and no exercise isn't a long-term solution. It's a fad diet. Yes, you may lose weight following the plan as directed, but the rigid menu or limited food choices may make the diet difficult to follow for any great length of time. And the fad diet doesn't provide any guidance on how to eat after you lose the weight, which sets you up for failure before you even begin.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, soup diets have been a fad since the 1950s when a chain letter featuring the cabbage soup diet was circulated as a one-week weight-loss plan. Unfortunately, many dieters complained of the gassy side effects.
Vegetable Chicken Soup Diet
While it's not clear where the vegetable chicken soup diet came from, it has a similar feel to the cabbage soup diet. It's a seven-day diet plan with a rigid menu in which you're allowed to eat breakfast (from a list of five options) and then only the vegetable chicken soup the rest of the day.
The soup consists of a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables, including celery, parsnips, carrots, onions, collards and broccoli, along with cooked chicken meat or canned chicken. The recipe calls for jalapeno peppers and cayenne peppers, as well as garlic, dill, salt and pepper for flavoring.
Your breakfast options include:
- Day 1: Yogurt with fruit and wheat germ
- Day 2: Ricotta cheese flavored with cinnamon or whole-grain toast with figs
- Day 3: Whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk and calcium-fortified orange juice
- Day 4: Whole-wheat bagel with fat-free cheese and prune juice
- Day 5: Cooked whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk
On days six and seven, you're advised to consume the breakfast you liked best.
The vegetable chicken soup diet doesn't make weight-loss claims, but notes that it may help jump-start your weight-loss efforts.
The Diet for Life
The problem with most diets is that they're viewed as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. You may be able to drop some of your unwanted pounds by following the chicken soup diet plan for weight loss, but it's not a plan you can follow for life.
If you're tired of the numbers on the scale going up and down year after year, then it's time to make a commitment to a healthier way of living that includes making smarter food choices and getting regular exercise. A sensible diet for life won't help you lose weight quickly, but it can help you form the necessary habits that keep the weight off.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, a healthy diet plan should produce a weekly 1- to 2-pound weight loss. Losing weight too quickly may mean you're losing water and muscle, not fat. It's not unusual to lose more weight during the first week or two of a new diet plan. In fact, the Mayo Clinic suggests that losing 6 to 10 pounds at the start of a diet may give you the motivation to continue, but slow and steady is the best way to go.
Calories count when it comes to weight loss, but you don't have sacrifice hunger and flavor when you cut back. To keep calories in check and hunger at bay, the Mayo Clinic suggests you follow a more plant-based diet that includes a daily dose of:
- Four servings of veggies
- Three servings of fruits
- Whole grains (whole-wheat bread) instead of refined grains (white bread)
- Healthy fats such as oils, avocado, nuts and seeds in moderate amounts
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish and beans
You can lose weight by cutting calories from your diet, but you may have more success keeping it off when you include exercise. Aerobic exercise is the best way to burn more calories, and you should try to include at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (brisk walk, bike ride or laps in the pool) five days a week.
Healthy Vegetable Chicken Soup
Filled with veggies and lean protein, vegetable chicken soup fits into any healthy diet plan. Healthy chicken soup recipes for weight loss should include:
- Low-sodium broth or stock
- Plenty of vegetables (fresh of frozen) without added salt
- Chicken meat without the skin
- Herbs and spices for flavoring
Be careful with cream-based soups, even ones filled with veggies, as they may be higher in calories than a broth-based soup. Also, if you're using canned or ready-to-serve chicken broth or stock, look for low-sodium versions. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to fluid retention and water-weight gain, as well as increase your risk of high blood pressure, says the American Heart Association (AHA).
According to the USDA, one cup of regular canned chicken broth has 859 milligrams of sodium, while the low-sodium version has 72 milligrams. The AHA says you should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. One serving of your vegetable chicken soup may meet nearly half your daily sodium needs.
What About Detox Veggie Soup?
In addition to being touted as a weight-loss diet, some versions of the vegetable chicken soup diet also claim to be a detox veggie soup. Detox recipes and diets claim that they can help rid your body of toxins and harmful substances. However, according to the National Center for Complementary Medicine and Integrative Health, there's no evidence to support that any food, soup, drink or supplement can detox your body.
Your body has its own built-in detox system, which includes your liver and kidneys, that work on a daily basis to get rid of harmful substances. While a detox veggie soup can't magically remove toxins from your body, it may support the health of your liver and kidneys.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the best way to support your natural detox system is to:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat foods high in fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains)
- Include more cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- Consume adequate amounts of lean protein
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Staying Away From Fad Diets"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fad Diet Timeline"
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "What It Takes to Lose Weight"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fast Weight Loss: What's Wrong With It?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success"
- American Heart Association: "Why Should I Limit Sodium?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken Broth"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Soup, Chicken Broth, Low Sodium, Canned"
- National Center for Complementary Medicine and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic: "What Is the Deal With Detox Diets?"
- MSN News: "Chicken Soup Diet"