The soup diet – can you lose weight on it?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 13 January 2009. Posted in Healthy weight loss
Tagged: diet, diet foods, diet meals, dieting, diets, fads, healthy eating, overweight, soup, soup diet, soup diets, vegetables, weight loss

The soup diet – can you lose weight on it?

Every winter or so, the soup diet reappears. One winter, it was part of the infamous "Kickstart Diet" made famous by a television current affairs program. Another winter a few years ago, it was big as the "Cabbage Soup Diet" - the only difference being that the soup contained lots of shredded cabbage.

Whatever way it varies, it always comes with a promise of effortless weight loss in as short a time as you can imagine - just sip the soup instead of a meal or heat up a mug whenever a craving hits and you're bound to drop 5 or 6 kg in a week.


The Kickstart Diet promises weight loss in a flash!

Many of you will recall this one! It was a silly diet with no nutritional basis except to drive you mad! It was heavily promoted on a current affairs TV program in 2003 and gained a huge following. You were meant to follow it for a week to "kickstart" your dieting efforts and then transition to a more moderate balanced diet. Many dieters, however, only did the Kickstart part.

Can you spot the "fad" element?

If you've read my article on how to spot fads then you'll recognize this. If you haven't then click here to check it out.

See if you can follow the logic of this diet plan:

  • On Day 1, all you eat is soup and fruit. You can eat any fruit except bananas (supposedly because they are "high in kilojoules"). Eat as much as you want. If you don't want soup for breakfast, have a fruit salad instead.
  • On Day 2, all you're allowed is soup and vegetables, NO fruit. You can eat as much fresh, raw or lightly steamed vegies as you like. Leafy greens are great but avoid peas, corn and beans as they are "high in sugar". You can "reward yourself at night" with a jacket potato, a little butter or better still, some yoghurt.
  • Day 3 is soup, vegetables and fruit - but no potatoes.
  • Day 4 you can eat up to three large bananas per day. Make a banana smoothie with low-fat or skim milk - and alternate this with more of the dreaded soup.

The diet claims to be low in carbohydrate with restrictions on potato, banana, bread, peas, corn and beans. Yet you're allowed unlimited quantities of unsweetened fruit juice or cranberry juice, which would add carbohydrates in the form of fruit sugars. Fruit and fruit salad also add carbohydrate - one medium orange or apple contains 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Everyone loved it. Why?

  • It seemed like a "quick fix" for your weight problem
  • You only have to do it for a week
  • It tells you exactly WHAT to eat, rather than you having to learn how to choose your meals according to nutrition principles
  • It's simple. You eat the same food ALL DAY with the soup in between
  • Your weight drops off which is very motivating (even if it is mainly fluid).

Does this silly diet work?

Yes - in the short term. But keep in mind much of the initial weight loss is water and is often regained once you start to eat normally.

If you are allowed to eat "as much as you like" of any one food, it soon becomes boring and monotonous and so you limit the total amount you take in. How many bananas can you eat in a day without getting tired of them? Or fruit? Or rice or soup? The same principle applies to the once-famous Israeli Army diet and the Eggs Only diet. Remember the monotony of any "single food" diet is the chief reason for its success.


The single biggest criticism is that this is a short-term fad diet and doesn't help you re-learn healthier eating habits. You "endure" the diet for a week or so. But what do you do once the week's over? Go back to how you ate before and watch the weight pile back on?

On the plus side, the vegetable soup itself is a winner for any diet. Filling and high in fibre, it's worth making up a big pot to have on hand when you feel hungry.

My rating

The Soup Diet is a gimmick, with the soup acting as a high-fibre low-kilojoule "meal replacement" for one, two or three meals a day as well as in-between. Overall, it's not dangerous over a few days but don't do the full soup plan for longer than a week. I give it one star (out of five) for all the fibre you consume from the soup! Just remember for sustained healthy weight loss and weight maintenance you need a healthy eating plan.


Related information

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book - Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion – answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right!

Comments (11)

  • Grace Hewlitt

    Grace Hewlitt

    03 May 2009 at 18:35 |
    i need the receipe for the soup diet many thanks Grace
  • eliza


    16 June 2009 at 00:31 |
    Loved the article.Some of the facts were actually hidden from me
    Thanks for the info.would surely like to add up my stuff

    There are many variations of the cabbage soup diet, but the best recipe depends on why you are doing the diet.

    [url=]The best cabbage soup diet[/url]
  •  The best cabbage soup diet

    The best cabbage soup diet

    16 June 2009 at 21:46 |
    The Cabbage Soup Diet is a relatively new diet craze that continues to gain popularity. The diet consists of an “extreme” diet, and should only be used for 7 days. The Cabbage Soup Diet is used as a starting place for a more long term diet. It is not healthy to use the Cabbage Soup Diet for more than 7 days, as you don’t get all the nutrients your body needs. This diet is often used by people to prepare for a special event, or kick-start a long term diet and exercise regimen.
    Amy Cooper
    There are many variations of the cabbage soup diet, but the best recipe depends on why you are doing the diet.
    [url=]The best cabbage soup diet[/url]
  • online2u


    12 July 2009 at 06:20 |
    Cabbage soup diet best recipe.When you looking for a convenient start to any diet plan, following the cabbage soup diet is a good way to jumpstart any attempt to lose weight.It is said that a dieter could potentially lose between 10-20 pounds while sticking to the cabbage soup diet.

    Cabbage Soup Diet Recipe


    6 Large Green Onions

    2 Green Peppers

    1-2 Cans Diced Tomatoes

    1 Bunch of Celery

    1 Package Lipton Onion Soup Mix

    1-2 Cubes of Bouillon (if desired)

    1 Cabbage Head

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Cabbage Soup Diet
  • wellness aloha

    wellness aloha

    29 May 2010 at 22:31 |
    tnx.for the diet info..tnx a lot..Wellness aloha
  • elli


    01 June 2010 at 10:00 |
    My mother uses this diet about twice a year, whenever her husband and her are feeling like they are getting into bad eating patterns. I've tried it a couple of times with her and it works fine just to get a few kilos off to quickly to get you motivated - or fit into that dress that fitted okay 2 months ago :) I think the key is in the name: 'kick-start' gets you started but you still have to keep on with healthier eating habits after.
  • Chook


    23 June 2010 at 07:00 |
    Grace, I found the receipe at
  • Diet Drops

    Diet Drops

    27 March 2011 at 03:47 |
    Hi! Yes, you can loss weight buy just partaking soup but of course, our body need daily nourishment, for weight loss to occur and to achieve the goal, one must be self motivated and optimistic and has self discipline to meet the goal.
  • Sammy


    12 June 2011 at 16:06 |
    To lose weight you need regular exercise and a healthy can't lose weight if you're missing either one.
  • Advocare


    22 May 2012 at 12:15 |
    Great post and very informative article, I’m a regular visitor of your website and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I'll be a frequent visitor for a really long time.
  • Catherine Saxelby

    Catherine Saxelby

    23 May 2012 at 06:38 |
    Thanks for your positive feedback Advocare,Sammy and Diet Drops. Good to have some sensible voices amongst all the soup diet hype out there. Cheers Catherine

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