There’s a science-backed, all-you-care-to-eat diet that helps some folks lose nine 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,” says Michael Greger, MD, author of the runaway bestseller How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease ($15.99, Amazon). “It’s a perfect strategy for beginners, anyone who struggles with portion control, or anyone who’s just really busy. My hope is that this soup jump-start 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? Scroll below 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 that you want. Why no animal products? We tend to eat them to unhealthy excess, crowding out more beneficial plant options. And 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 says.
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 the soup itself and what’s inside (and not inside) 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 and diet longevity.
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 on a plant-based diet 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 Tbsp. jarred tomato paste
- 4 Tbsp. chili powder, 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 of broth until soft for five minutes. Add mushrooms, bell peppers, chilis, zucchini, and garlic until soft, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, chili powder, and turmeric until well incorporated. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and remaining broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Add extra broth if the soup gets thicker than you like. Stir in the corn, spice blend, and paprika. Serve hot. The recipe makes eight 2 1/2-cup servings.
Fast Soup Diet:
While using this special soup-based jump-start plan, you’re encouraged to eat soup as a main meal up to twice daily. 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 want. 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 such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and avocado. Freely add unprocessed plant-based extras (spices, vinegar, grainy mustard, stevia). As always, get a doctor’s OK before trying 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 percent 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 percent 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 and oil-free artichoke hearts); add any beans, peas, or cooked whole grains you like (such as quinoa or brown rice); top with a spoonful of nuts, seeds, sliced olives, or dried fruit and an oil-free plant-based dressing (Easy Vinaigrette: Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. spice blend, and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 5-6 servings. Keeps in the fridge up to five days).
Option 3: Endless Possibilities Wrap: Spread a 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 percent whole grains; 1 serving of berries; 3 servings of other fruit; 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables, 2 servings of leafy greens and 2 additional servings of veggies; 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.