Move over juice; there’s a new cleanse in town.
One that promises to keep you nourished and feeling satisfied as it rids your body of unwanted pounds and impurities.
It’s soup. And it’s become the piping hot diet trend of 2016. Celebrities are singing its praises. Even some health professionals are joining the chorus.
Detox diets have been around since the 1970s and each incarnation triggers another round of controversy. Personally, I view soup as a side affair. But with all of the buzz touting its benefits, you have to wonder: Is souping any healthier than juicing?
First things first. Liquid cleanses—no matter what the liquid—are nothing more than crash diets disguised as ritualistic flushes and although some people swear by them, science says they’re not necessary. Our bowels, kidneys and livers do a good job of cleaning us out on their own, thank you.
Nevertheless, some experts maintain that an occasional cleanse might not be such a bad idea. “Our bodies are so overwhelmed with the toxins in the environment and what we ingest and everything that’s processed, it’s a lot different from what our parents and grandparents were exposed to,” says Lisa Harkins, registered dietitian and owner of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness in Lewes.
The biggest leg up soup has over juice is fiber. Juices flood your body with pure carbs and sugar. Juices also lack the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables found in soups that help to slow sugar absorption and make us feel satiated.
However, dietitians caution that even though souping sits on the healthier side of the cleansing spectrum, it’s still not substantial enough to sustain a healthy body and lifestyle long-term.
In fact, going without solid food for more than three days can have serious consequences. A low-fiber diet can contribute to elevated levels of toxicity throughout the body, explains Harkins. “We lose cholesterol through our feces and that’s why fiber is so important,” she says.
Moreover, soup cleanses comprise some very low-calorie days—some hitting 1,200 or even less. Without adequate nutrients—especially protein—you could wind up losing muscle mass instead of fat—the opposite of what you want to accomplish when losing weight, says Harkins.
An extended regimen of souping can also lead to binge eating down the road. Orosensory stimulation, i.e., chewing, is an important contributing factor to the development of satiation. In other words, the mere act of chomping on food helps us feel full and satisfied. “When you drink your food, you actually become unfulfilled,” says Harkins. “These (cleanses) are very temporary quick fixes for weight loss and they can lead people to binge.”
That said, a short cleanse—one lasting no more than three days—can be an effective way to evaluate your food choices and rethink your relationship with food. “If someone is healthy and fit and they’re doing it to feel better and hit the reset button, I’m OK with that,” says Harkins.