Is soup fattening or good for weight loss?

Soup is enjoyed worldwide, with different cultures having their own unique recipes. It is also usually very straightforward to prepare, making it a great meal option if you don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking.

When you are trying to lose weight, it is important to restrict certain types of foods and eat more of others. Should you eat soup when you are trying to lose weight?

Nutritional information

Since it can be prepared from a vast number of ingredients and in many different ways, nutritional information varies from soup to soup. One thing all soups have in common is that they contain a lot of water and so generally have very few calories.

Calories are units of energy and all foods contain them. However the number of calories can differ significantly, depending on the type of food. For example, fruits and vegetables tend to contain very few calories because they are mainly made up of water (which has 0 calories). Nuts and seeds on the other hand are calorie dense because they have a lot of fat, which has 9 calories per gram.

Calories are important when it comes to weight management. You ingest calories via food, and use them up during the day. Even when you rest, your body is burning energy. The more active you are (e.g. if you exercise a lot), the more calories you burn.

The general equation for weight management is calories in – calories out. If you consume more calories than what your body uses during the day, over time you will start to gain weight. This is because your body stores the extra calories as fat. The opposite is also true; if you consume fewer calories than what you use, you will begin to lose weight because your body will use its fat stores as a source of energy.

The number of calories a person needs depends on their current weight, height, age, gender and how active they are. Two women of the same age can require significantly different numbers of calories, depending on their goals. You can use the calculator below to estimate the number of calories you should be consuming.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 35 year old lady who weighs 75 kg, is 155 cm tall and exercises four times a week will need to consume approximately 2100 calories to maintain her weight, 1700 calories to lose weight, and 1300 calories to lose weight fast.

The number of calories in a cup of soup depends on the ingredients used, but in general it will contain between 50 and 150 calories. This makes soup a great option when on a weight loss diet. Even on an 1300 calorie diet, a cup of soup will only contribute to 4 – 12% of total calories.

How else can soup help with weight loss?

Soup consumption has been shown to help reduce total calorie intake.

This study involved participants consuming soup before lunch, for a period of 5 weeks. It was found that soup consumption before a meal helped reduce calorie intake by 20% at that meal. The consistency of the soup did not seem to make a difference. Another study showed similar results.

This study involved 200 overweight and obese adults following a calorie restricted diet, which included them consuming either one or two servings of soup or a snack that provided the same amount of calories. The study found that the consumption of soup led to 50% greater weight loss, even though the same number of calories was consumed.

Another study involved 24 lean women consuming either (a) chicken rice casserole, (b) chicken rice casserole with a glass of water or (c) chicken rice soup, 17 minutes before lunch. The soup had the same type and amount of ingredients as what was used in (b). The results showed that when soup was eaten, it led to significantly fewer calories being consumed than when water was drunk as a drink.

Studies have found that soup consumption is associated with a lower risk of obesity. On average, soup consumers have lower body weights, narrower waists and consume fewer calories. This is because soup is very satiating.

Here are some of the reasons why soup is filling and makes you eat less:

Fiber content

Dietary fiber is important for your overall health, which is why nutritionists recommend that you get plenty of it everyday. Sufficient fiber intake makes sure you have regular bowel movements, protects your heart by reducing cholesterol levels and controls blood sugar levels.

Fiber can also help you manage your weight because certain types of fiber increase feelings of fullness. This is important as it prevents overeating, which in turn reduces the number of calories that you consume. Studies have shown that people who increase their fiber intake tend to gain less weight than those who don’t, over the long run.

Many of the ingredients used in soups, such as beans and vegetables are very rich in fiber. For example, a quarter cup of kidney beans has 11 grams of fiber and a cup of peas has 7 g. This helps make soup filling, for very few calories.

Water content

Drinking water has been shown to help you lose weight. For starters, replacing sugary drinks with water reduces the number of calories you consume. Studies such as this and this have shown that water consumption boosts metabolic rate slightly and leads to more calories being burnt.

Many people are dehydrated without realising it . Not only does dehydration lead to feelings of tiredness, it can also cause you to eat more than you should, because you mistake thirst for hunger. As a result, excess calories are consumed, thwarting weight loss efforts.

Even though the best way to increase water intake is to drink plenty of fresh water, you can also get water through food. Soup is more than 90% water, thanks to the vegetables and liquid broth used to prepare it. So not only does eating it provide you with a high dose of vitamins and minerals, it also hydrates you at the same time.

And as one of the studies mentioned above shows, eating liquid food is more effective at curbing hunger than eating the same amount of solid food with a glass of water.

Protein content

The amount of protein in a bowl of soup is largely dependent on the ingredients used. Soups tend to contain chicken, beans and vegetables, all of which help to increase the overall protein content.

Like fiber, protein is very satiating and causes you to eat less. It also helps boost your metabolism which increases calorie expenditure.

Can soup be fattening? Does the type of soup matter?

Anything, if eaten in abundance, can make you fat. It’s all about calorie control; if you consume more calories than what your body burns, you will gain weight over time. The number of calories in a bowl of soup varies, so it is important to monitor this. If a bowl of soup is to help your weight loss efforts, it should contain no more than 150 – 300 calories.

Ideally, you would want to make your own soup, using fresh ingredients. This way you can control exactly what goes in it, and it will also be the most nutrient dense. However if you can’t make it at home and have to buy store bought soup, always check nutritional labels. Stay away from powdered soups and also avoid those that are high in salt, sugar and of course, calories.

Making soup at home is not difficult and there are lots of quick weight loss soup recipes available.


Studies have found soup consumption to be a very effective way of reducing weight. It helps curb appetite, resulting in less food being consumed overall. Follow a healthy weight loss diet, get enough exercise and you will start to shed those excess pounds in no time.

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