Women are buzzing about a new wave of weight-loss soups so powerful they take off up to 14 pounds and a jeans size in a single week. Why do they work so well?
“It’s all about the right ingredients,” insists bestselling Clean & Lean ($12.68, Amazon) author and Harvard-trained diet guru Ian K. Smith, MD. “Any healthy soup is going to kill hunger for minimal calories. But we can use the latest science to take results to the next level, literally loading this very convenient comfort food with nutrients that make belly fat melt faster.”
Dr. Ian, who runs popular soup challenges on Facebook and Instagram, says simple recipes are all it takes to make a “wow” difference. “Losing abdominal fat is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, so this is about more than just the scale. You can transform your body for the better very quickly!”
Penn State University researchers have found that the suspension of solid food in liquid broth tricks the body into feeling full about 400 calories sooner than it normally would after eating the exact same ingredients in any other form. Soup is basically Mother Nature’s appetite suppressant. But not all soup — or soup diets — are created equal. “Plans that are too restrictive and repetitive trigger cravings that set us up for weight gain,” Dr. Ian explains. “Never force yourself to eat food you don’t like or food that you’ve gotten sick of. The great thing about soup is that you never have to get bored.” In fact, he adds, dozens of different varieties can be spiked with key nutrients that optimize fat burn.
Fiber for Weight Loss
“If I had to pick the single most important nutrient in a good weight-loss soup, it would be fiber,” says Dr. Ian. Research shows fiber — sinewy plant matter that our bodies can’t fully break down — fills us up for zero calories, forces our metabolism to burn hotter and prevents fattening blood-sugar spikes.
That’s not all. What most of us don’t realize is that there are actually about a dozen different types of fiber. Why is that important? Because cutting-edge studies show that we benefit greatly not just by getting more fiber, but also more variety of fiber.
Turns out, an assortment of fiber turbocharges good bacteria in our digestive tract, maximizing its ability to do things like trigger healthy cravings, reduce calorie absorption, and lower levels of fat-storage hormones. A breakthrough study from Rutgers University even found that blitzing the body with many different types of fiber changes our gut bacteria in a way that fights type 2 diabetes while boosting belly-fat burn by a whopping 240 percent!
The Soup Plan That Speeds Fat-Burning
This version of Dr. Ian’s soup diet is simple: Eat soup at one to two meals a day and stick to unprocessed foods at all sittings. Water should be your main beverage. What soup should you choose? Best bets will contain at least three different fiber-rich ingredients (such as beans, onions, and greens) plus lean protein, spices, and olive oil. Healthy ready-made soups are allowed. As always, get your doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
“Lentils, beans, and peas provide multiple types of fiber at once, which is why I love them as the base of any soup,” says Dr. Ian. “You also want to go for a variety of fiber-rich foods like onions, garlic, greens, tomato, potatoes — whatever you like.” The more variety, the flatter your belly will get!
Dr. Ian is an ardent proponent of “clean eating.” That means steering clear of processed foods, “which are typically low in nutrients, high in calories, and packed with ingredients that disrupt our hormonal system and lead to an excess of belly-fattening hormones,” he says.
“When you get rid of hormonal disrupters, your body naturally lets go of fat around your middle.” He adds that protein is also linked to improved levels of belly-flattening hormones.
And drizzle olive oil in your soup too. “It contains oleic acid, which activates enzymes in the body that increase weight loss and belly fat loss.”
One last trick: Stop eating by 7 p.m. Going from 7 p.m. until breakfast without food triggers biochemical changes that melt ab fat. “The exact mechanism isn’t clear, but many credible studies show a direct link,” Dr. Ian notes. “Shrink the window during which you eat each day, and you shrink your waist!”
Dr. Ian Smith’s Soup Diet — Sample Day
Breakfast: Probiotic- and protein-rich Greek yogurt topped with prebiotic-rich wholegrain cereal and fruit — a meal that targets belly fat three ways!
Lunch: 11⁄2 cups of any soup that fits Dr. Ian’s guidelines. One tip: Brands in cans marked “BPA-free” are free of a toxin linked to belly fat.
Snacks: Go for two 150-calorie snacks daily, such as a handful of nuts, 4 cups of popcorn or a baked sweet potato with Greek yogurt and chives.
Dinner: Enjoy 11⁄2 cups of soup or, alternately, 3 oz. of lean protein served with sautéed veggies and beans or a large salad with vinaigrette.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.