The Healthiest Canned Soup Diet to Lose Weight & Build Muscle

chicken noodle soup with crackers close up
Soups must contain protein to help build muscle. (Image: rez-art/iStock/Getty Images)

Many dieters turn to canned soup as a convenient and nutritious low-calorie meal. There are an abundance of plans based on soups, but many of them are not sustainable for long-term health. Soup-only diets typically do not contain proper amounts of all the nutrients necessary for healthy bodily function; including proteins, which are the building blocks of muscles. The healthiest diets are ones that include all essential nutrients in the amount of calories you need to achieve and maintain an appropriate body weight.

Planning Your Diet

Once a week, sit down and write out a plan for your food intake. Map out how many calories and how much protein you need, along with your plan for how to meet those requirements. Calculate the total number of calories your body needs using a simple method suggested by California State University Long Beach. Multiply your current weight in pounds by 15, then subtract 500 calories to lose 1 lb. per week or 1,000 to lose 2 lbs. per week. About 15 percent of your total calorie intake should be from protein to promote muscle growth.

Choosing Canned Soup

When choosing canned soups to base your diet on, look first at the nutrient facts label. Find soups that will help you reach your caloric goal, have plenty of protein and have less than 500 mg of sodium. Note the serving size at the top of the nutrient facts panel and calculate your nutrients accordingly. The amount of soup that makes up one serving differs from brand to brand and even from soup to soup within the same brand. Eating more than one serving as listed on the label is OK, as long as you budget for it.

Filling the Gaps

You cannot meet all of your nutritional requirements by eating canned soup alone. Most soups lack significant amounts of calcium, essential fatty acids and complete protein. Fill in the nutritional gaps by adding other foods into your diet. Sharon Coplin, a registered dietitian at Ohio State University, suggests drinking three to four glasses of skim milk per day to boost the calcium and protein content of your meals. Try serving your soup over brown rice or quinoa to add whole grains to your meals.

Building Muscle

Eating protein is absolutely necessary for losing weight and building muscle, but so is physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 250 minutes of exercise per week for weight loss and maintenance. This averages out to at least 40 minutes per day or about four 60-minute sessions per week. Aim for a balanced workout program that includes cardiovascular work to burn calories and resistance training to build muscle and gain strength.

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