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In the Weight Loss War, Eating Bean & Veggie Soups May Be More Effective Than Keto

“If everyone in America has vegetable-bean soup, salad, and a fruit every day we’d save millions of lives and billions in healthcare costs."

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It’s the perfect time of year to cozy up with a bowl of soup — and make a whole lot of fat disappear while you’re at it. The secret: a yummy recipe like the one below, right. Simply enjoying it in place of a typical meal “can make aggressive weight loss feel easy,” insists Joel Fuhrman, MD, a University of Pennsylvania–trained nutrition expert and world-famous author of Eat to Live and Eat for Life. Dr. Fuhrman uses soup to power up a diet built around whole plant foods. And big results aren’t short-lived. He adds, “People are able to maintain huge losses!”

Dr. Fuhrman and his team often share soup recipes on his website (DrFuhrman.com), and all are incredibly nutritious. Yet only a mere handful are marked as tools for the fastest weight loss. What sets them apart? Dr. Fuhrman explains that, ounce for ounce, they boast the highest levels of beneficial plant compounds for the fewest calories.

“Main ingredients typically include beans, greens, mushrooms, onions, and other brightly colored, non-starchy produce like tomatoes and bell peppers,” he says. That’s a big deal since even ordinary soups (with their unique mix of liquid and solids) have been shown to activate “stop eating” mechanisms in the gut, helping dieters double weight loss. And because high-nutrient, whole plants have also been proven to dramatically slash appetite, putting them in soup “makes you feel like you’re eating 500 calories when you only consume 200 or so,” says the doc. It’s one of many advantages these soups offer…

Micronutrients in Plant Foods Optimize Your Body Functions

As you switch to eating mostly unprocessed plant foods, you flood your body with micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and more, says Dr. Fuhrman.

chicory and chickpea soup
Fotema/Shutterstock

The impact is immediate, helping heal and optimize the function of every system from head to toe. A randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Network Open found that folks can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and increase insulin sensitivity (reduce blood sugar spikes) with a low-fat, plant-based diet. “People get off medications and stop getting sick. At the same time, they experience sharper thinking, surging energy, less pain, and more joy,” says Dr. Fuhrman. He considers soup a convenient micronutrient delivery system: “You can throw ingredients into a big pot on a weekend and have micronutrient-dense meals for the week.” And these microscopic nutrients play a surprisingly large role in waist size.

The Soup Diet May Be More Effective Than Keto

Scientists keep discovering more ways micronutrients help us get rid of excess weight. Some compounds kill cravings and inhibit fat storage; others lower levels of belly-fattening blood sugar and stress hormones. One of Dr. Fuhrman’s favorite examples is the resistant starch in beans. A 2015 scientific review shows that resistance starch helps increase the breakdown of fat cells and reduce fat storage. It also takes the gastrointestinal tract more effort to digest resistance starch, which means more total calories burned.

Another eye-opener: A recent NIH study tested the same group of people as they alternately followed a plant-based and keto diet. The menus had similar calories, protein, carbs, and fat, so researchers were stunned to find that fat burning nearly quadrupled when folks ate plant-based meals. For his part, Dr. Fuhrman isn’t surprised, because micronutrients work wonders for weight control and overall well-being. “If everyone in America has vegetable-bean soup, salad, and a fruit every day,” he says, “we’d save millions of lives and billions in healthcare costs!”

How the Soup Diet Helped Transform a Nurse’s Body

Struggling with GI trouble, migraines, knee pain, and constant infections, “I was sick so often, I worried I’d lose my job,” recalls Nebraska nurse Mary Jo Jelinek, 70. “I knew getting my weight down could help, but I never got anywhere with diet plans.” She prayed for guidance — and one day, Eat to Live “literally fell off a bookstore shelf and hit my foot.”

Skimming it, she read about a woman her age who transformed her body. “So, I decided to try Dr. Fuhrman’s guidelines.” One shortcut way to start: veggie-bean soup. “You can use canned beans and frozen veggies, so it’s easy.” It was also tasty, helping make the switch to plant-based eating pleasant.

While it took time to fully adapt to the way of eating, pounds began disappearing right away. So did every one of her health issues. Her blood sugar and cholesterol normalized, pre-diabetes reversed, and aches vanished. “After years of respiratory illnesses and breathing problems, I just don’t get sick anymore,” she marvels. “And I lost pounds, even though I was past menopause and my metabolism had slowed.” There was also an unexpected perk. “I’m full of joy,” she cheers. “I’ve learned you don’t make feel-good endorphins if you don’t get the correct micronutrients. The difference is amazing. I’m thrilled to be here, thrilled to be me!”

Dr. Fuhrman’s Extra Tips for Quick Results

For the fastest results, make soup part of a diet that skips animal foods and includes a wide variety of cooked and raw plants in their natural form. Limit minimally processed plants like maple syrup and oats to a few daily servings; avoid added oil and sugar. Eat very large meals so you don’t need snacks. Find more tips and recipes at DrFuhrman.com.

Dr. Fuhrman’s Bean and Quinoa Soup Recipe

A cozy meal that’s nutrient-packed, this soup is a great place to start.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced red/yellow bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 5 cups low-sodium veggie broth
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 30 ounces no-salt-added beans, drained
  • 4 cups chopped spinach or kale

Instructions:

  1. In stockpot, sauté onion and pepper in 2 to 3 tablespoons water until tender, 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.
  3. Add mushrooms, tomato and chili powder; stir until softened. Add broth; bring to a boil.
  4. Add quinoa, reduce heat and cover; simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Add beans; cook until quinoa is tender, 10 minutes. Add greens. Garnish and enjoy.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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