Weight Management

Healthful Soups for Weight Loss

Soups and broths are popularly cited as weight loss tools, but with such a wide range of recipes and options available, how can dietitians suggest the most healthful and filling soups to clients and patients interested in losing weight?

As RDs, we can show clients how to prepare a healthful soup with nutritious and filling components that will support them on their weight loss journey. Nutrient-rich soups filled with veggies and healthful sources of proteins are a great way to stay full and potentially reduce calorie intake at mealtime. Here are tips to share with patients to help them craft nourishing and weight loss–promoting soups.

1. Suggest clear over creamy soups. Creamy soups are higher in calories, while clear broths have fewer calories. Store-bought low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth is a great low-calorie base for patients to make soups at home.

2. Keep an eye on starch. Suggest patients add lots of nonstarchy veggies to their soups as a low-calorie way to boost nutrient intake. My nonstarchy favorites are leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, and cabbage; mushrooms; broccoli; sprouts; leeks; and colorful bell peppers.

It’s important to remind clients looking to lose weight that common soup ingredients such as potatoes, corn, and yams all contain starch and thus should be limited and replaced with nonstarchy vegetables. Even though yams are nutrient dense, too much can raise blood sugar, especially important for patients with diabetes and those trying to lose weight. A good suggestion for them is to limit starches to two servings (eg, 1 cup of yams) per portion of soup.

3. When buying premade, read the label. Premade canned soups can be healthful options but recommend patients read labels. They should aim for a 20% (460 mg on a 2,000-kcal diet) or less of the DV for sodium per serving, with 5% (115 mg) or less for patients with high blood pressure. (Patients should keep in mind that one can of soup may contain more than one serving.) My canned soup health hack for patients is for them to select a soup with a clear broth and add a variety of nonstarchy veggies and healthful protein sources of their choice to make their store-bought soup a healthful and filling option.

For busier clientss who may be more inclined to purchase premade soups, dietitians also can educate them on the convenience of using a slow cooker to help save time and money.

In a small cross-sectional study of Japanese men, soup consumption was associated with lower BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. The men, who were 24 to 75 years of age, consumed an average of seven servings of soup per week. Soup intake had a significant inverse association with BMI (p=0.040), waist circumference (p=0.024) and waist-to-hip ratio (p=0.001).

Using these tips, RDs can help patients prepare and consume nutritious, filling, and flavorful soups that can help them feel satisfied throughout their weight loss journey.

— Sharon Priya Banta, MS, RD, CDN, is a doctoral candidate, clinical RD working at an outpatient medical center, and the owner of a private practice. Her company, Simple Practical Balanced Nutrition, provides virtual consultations, advice, and nutrition tips for busy people on the go. You can find her at www.spbNutrition.com or follow her on Instagram @spb_nutrition.

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