There’s a science-backed, all-you-care-to-eat diet that helps folks lose nine,15, even 24 pounds in a single week. And that’s not even the best part. We’ve convinced one of the world’s most respected nutrition experts to turn the approach — which is built around unprocessed plant foods — into what may be the easiest and most effective soup diet ever.
“You can make a big batch of my soup and have enough delicious heat-and-eat meals to last for weeks. And I think you’ll be surprised by how satisfying the soup is. It’s a perfect strategy for beginners, anyone who struggles with portion control or anyone who’s just really busy,” promises Michael Greger, M.D., author of the runaway bestseller How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. “My hope is that this soup jumpstart will help you lose so much weight and feel so much better that you’ll be permanently hooked on a way of eating proven to help you live the longest and healthiest life possible.”
How well will Dr. Greger’s soup diet work for you? Here’s how to find out.
Soup Diet: Quick-Start Guide
What you eat: Savor hearty bowls of Dr. Greger’s Vegetable Bean Soup up to twice a day. The rest of the time, enjoy all the oil-free, unprocessed plant foods you like. Why no animal foods? We tend to eat them to unhealthy excess, crowding out more beneficial plant options. Why no oil? It’s the most calorie-dense and least nutrient-dense part of a plant, easily turning meals into calorie bombs.
“You’ll get all the fat you need from whole plants like nuts and avocado with no need to worry about portion control,” Greger notes.
Why it works: When readers tested this soup diet for us, the average woman lost nine pounds a week, with our biggest loser dropping 16. That’s roughly double the amount reported when we tested the old Cabbage Soup Diet! Greger says credit goes to both soup itself and what’s in (and not in) his soup. For starters, studies show that we burn a lot more calories breaking down unprocessed food — about 65 extra calories for a main course alone. On top of that, eating only plant foods loads us with enough nutrients to spike metabolism “even as we sleep. Research suggests plant-based dieters have an 11 percent higher resting metabolic rate.” There’s more: All the fiber in unprocessed plant food kills hunger and is proven to rev the growth of “skinny bacteria” in our digestive tracts — a factor linked to effortless weight control.
Now let’s talk soup. Lab tests demonstrate that its unique mix of solids suspended in liquid sends stop-eating signals to our brains faster than any other food. The effect is dramatic enough that in a Penn State study, dieters incorporating soup into their diets twice daily lost 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t. So when you combine soup and plant-based eating, you’re taking an approach that’s already mega-effective and making it work dramatically better!
Soup Diet Success Story
Heather Goodwin, 48, started her first weight-loss program at age 11 but never hit a healthy weight until she went plant-based and made soup a go-to meal. “In the past, I was always fighting my appetite. With soup and plant-based eating, I could have so much delicious food while still losing weight,” says the Oregon mom, who shed up to 16 pounds a week and an astonishing 304 pounds in all. “I cured my asthma, sleep apnea, diabetes, migraines, high cholesterol and excruciating joint pain. I’ve been told I look 10 years younger. I feel like a new woman!” Woman’s World reader Charlotte Chase is also impressed. “I wasn’t sure about this diet because I’m not a big vegetable eater,” admits the West Virginia mom, 58. “But I liked the soup so much — and it was so easy to prepare. Plus, I lost 14.5 pounds in one week — with no hunger, no cravings and so much energy. I encourage everyone to try this diet.”
Weight-Loss Soup Recipe:
Dr. Greger’s Champion Vegetable Bean Soup is hearty, comforting, and bursting with flavor!
2 red onions, chopped
1 cup minced celery
6-8 cups salt-free vegetable broth
4-6 cups chopped mushrooms
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1-2 small hot chili peppers, seeded and finely minced (optional)
2 zucchinis, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tbs. jarred tomato paste
4 Tbs. chili powder, or to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric or 1 1/2-inch piece fresh turmeric, grated
2 (14.5 oz.) cans salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (15.5 oz.) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups corn kernels
4-6 tsp. your favorite spice blend
1 tsp. smoked paprika
In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion and celery in 4 cups broth until soft, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell peppers, chilis, zucchini and garlic until soft, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, chili powder and turmeric until well incorporated. Stir in tomatoes, beans and remaining broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Add extra broth if the soup gets thicker than you like. Stir in the corn, spice blend and paprika. Serve hot. Makes eight 2 1/2-cup servings.
Fast Soup Diet: The Menu
Our nutrition team worked with Michael Greger, M.D., to create this special soup-based jumpstart plan for you to try. While using it, you’re encouraged to eat soup as a main meal up to twice daily. And keep in mind that all oil-free and unprocessed plant foods are unlimited—so you can eat your fill of soup as well as any breakfasts, sides and snacks you like. While using this plan, be sure to drink plenty of water; coffee and tea are also encouraged. For best weight-loss results, go easy on calorie-dense options like dried fruit, nuts, seeds and avocado. Freely add unprocessed plant-based extras (spices, vinegar, grainy mustard, stevia). As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Choose one daily; if desired, add coffee/tea with optional Stevia and/or plant-based milk.
Option 1: Dr. Greger’s Breakfast Bowl: Top any hot or cold 100% whole grain cereal (such as steel-cut oatmeal or shredded wheat) with assorted fruit, a spoonful ground flaxseed, a spoonful any other nuts/seeds, optional plant-based toppings (such as cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder or dried fruit), and unsweetened plant-based milk.
Option 2: 100% whole-grain English muffin, a little nut or seed butter, sprinkle ground flaxseed. Large bowl of sliced fruit.
Lunch and Dinner
Choose one option at each sitting, aiming to choose soup 1-2 times daily; if desired, enjoy sliced fruit for dessert.
Option 1: Dr. Greger’s Champion Vegetable Bean Soup recipe (recipe above).
Option 2: Dr. Greger’s DIY Salad Bar: Top a big bowl of greens with any veggies and/or fruit you like (including pickles, oil-free artichoke hearts); add any beans, peas or cooked whole grains you like (such as quinoa or brown rice); top with a spoonful nuts, seeds, sliced olive or dried fruit and an oil-free plant-based dressing (Easy Vinaigrette: Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 Tbs. nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. spice blend, salt and pepper to taste. Makes 5-6 servings. Keeps in fridge up to five days.)
Option 3: Endless Possibilities Wrap: Spread whole-grain tortilla with oil-free hummus, guacamole, black bean dip or vegan cream cheese; add unlimited raw and cooked veggies and beans; season to taste.
Option 1: Popcorn made without oil (such as Black Jewel brand)
Option 2: Cauliflower or broccoli, oil-free dip or dressing (such as oil-free hummus, salsa or Health Starts Here dressing)
Option 3: 1 apple or banana with a little nut butter
Make Your Own Menus
Oil-free, unprocessed plant foods are unlimited. To maximize health, Dr. Greger suggests each day you aim for 3 servings each of beans and 100% whole grains; 1 serving of berries; 3 servings of other fruit; 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables, 2 servings of leafy greens and 2 additional veggies servings; 1 serving each of flaxseeds and nuts; 1 tsp. turmeric and lots of other herbs and spices; and five cups of green or hibiscus tea.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.