Feeling cold and hungry? More soup for you!
The temperature has dropped, the days are noticeably shorter and suddenly salad does not seem like such an appealing lunch option – bring on the soups, I say.
It may surprise you to hear that not only are soups a great option nutritionally but certain types of soup have also been proven to help support weight loss, so let’s get that soup pot out and get chopping!
Soup, particularly vegetable based soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine a high nutrient density with a low energy density and this means that we get lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories.
At a time in which foods with a high energy density and low nutrient density such as white bread, snack foods, sugar based drinks and high fat fast foods dominate our intake, a low calorie option that fills us up is gold standard when it comes to foods that need to be regularly included in the diet.
And this benefit is proven. Studies have repeatedly shown that when diners consume a low calorie vegetable based soup before their main meal that they consume up to 20% fewer calories at a meal. The reason is not complex, basically the bulk of the soup helps to fill us up so we eat less.
Nutritionally this is too beneficial as the nutrients found in vegetables including many water soluble vitamins such as vitamin B, C, K as well as dietary fibre and a range of minerals also helps to regulate the digestive tract and ensure that we get the number of key nutrients we need each and every day.
On top of that we can also add in an extra benefit of eating soup from a weight and fluid retention perspective; soups that have a base of leeks, onions and celery are also particularly high in the mineral potassium. As potassium helps to bind excess sodium, it helps to rid the body of excess fluid.
As many of us carry fluid and regularly feel bloated thanks to a high salt diet and a lack of activity, dropping as little as 500g of body weight after a few vegetable soups, even if it is just fluid can make us feel lighter and leaner instantly.
Soup can be a simple meal addition - a way to ensure that the family gets all of their vegetables and nutrition; a filling afternoon snack or an entire lunch or light evening meal, especially when beans, potato or sweet potato are the base providing heavier carbs as well as chicken, lean sausage or some mincemeat for protein.
It is important to remember that rice, noodles, legumes and pasta do add considerable carbohydrates and calories to your soup and are likely to negate any weight loss benefits. On the other hand, broth style, vegetable based soups have virtually no calories and can be consumed relatively freely (but of course you do need to count any bread!).
While bulking meals up with low calorie options such as vegetable soup on a regular basis is a great way to load up on nutrition in general, for those wanting to drop a couple of kilograms quickly, replacing the evening meal with a vegetable based soup is a safe way to do it.
The low energy content helps to keep your total calorie intake low, while the bulk prevents you from feeling hungry and deprived the way you would if you were eating very little on a regular diet, or using meal replacement shakes.
For those wanting a more intense regime, a vegetable soup can replace 2 meals a day for 5-7 days without any negative side effects. Although much of the weight loss will be fluid, sometimes this is all we need to feel leaner and healthier is a flatter stomach and a kg or two less on the scales.
Naturally homemade soups are the best option. This way you can control the type and amounts of vegetables that you use to make your soup as well as choosing to use salt reduced stocks and few other additives.
Pre-made soups and packet soup mixes tend to be exceptionally high in sodium (salt) with the average packet soup containing a massive 800-1200mg of sodium or 1/3-1/2 of your total daily salt limit.
Premade soups also tend to be relatively low in protein and high in carbohydrate thanks to their base being potato starch. If you must seek out a pre-made soup option, look for varieties that contain less than 20g total carbohydrates per serve and less than 800mg of sodium.
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