Maybe it’s because I live in New York, but it seems like everyone I know has attempted to do a juice cleanse at least once in the last year. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of them: the Master Cleanse (stay away from this Beyoncé-approved nightmare) and Organic Avenue’s offering (honestly, not that bad if you’re into self-deprivation).
And while the juice cleanse still reigns supreme, a new type of cleanse is becoming increasingly popular: the soup cleanse.
Soup cleansing is very similar to juice cleansing; you can purchase pre-made soups that come with an eating schedule or you can make your own soups at home. If you’re more motivated and a better cook than I am, making your own soups at home is highly cost efficient. There are some great recipes online for simple, healthy, and cleansing soups, and you can mix and match them to your tastes. Aside from saving money, the biggest benefit of a DIY soup cleanse is that you are not stuck slurping down a soup you can barely stand.
Purchasing the pre-made soups from a company that specializes in soup cleanses can be pricey (a one-day supply from Soupure in Los Angeles costs $79), but it is incredibly convenient; in my own dieting experiences, convenience is what keeps me from falling off the wagon. The pre-made options are also designed for maximized nutrition and weight loss potential.
So, what are the benefits of a soup cleanse?
The first real benefit — something that a juice cleanse doesn’t offer–is that you can eat! The hardest part of my juice cleanse experience was not being able to eat. Even if I was getting a sufficient amount of calories into my body, I always felt hungry; soup cleansing really aids with this mental element. Soup cleanses are also hydrating. The average American drinks about 20 ounces of water a day, but we should be drinking closer to 70. A soup cleanse is a wonderful chance to rehydrate your body. Keeping hydrated improves your skin elasticity, muscle efficiency, and memory function.
Soup cleanses also can help you reevaluate your relationship with food. Perhaps you eat every day at the same time, regardless of whether you’re hungry or not. Or maybe you eat too quickly and without paying any attention. A soup cleanse will help you take a closer look at the way and why you eat.
A soup cleanse will also help give your digestive system a break. If you eat a standard American diet, you’re likely eating large amounts of processed foods every day. Processed foods make your digestive system go into overdrive, stressing your intestines and gut flora. A soup cleanse will allow your stomach, gut, and liver to take a well-deserved vacation. A soup cleanse will also ensure that you’re eating nutritionally rich foods like kale, cashew nuts, spinach, and beet greens. Lastly, a soup cleanse can be a great way to shed a few pounds. Remember though, the weight you lose on a soup cleanse is mostly water weight and will return once you begin eating normally.
So, what are the drawbacks of a soup cleanse?
Well, you’re not really cleansing anything.
If you think that five days of sipping on nothing but bone broth and celery soup will remove mysterious toxins from your body, I have bad news for you. The body detoxes itself naturally; detoxification occurs in the liver, kidneys and intestines. Every day you’re alive, your body is detoxing.
Soup cleansing is also expensive. A one-day soup cleanse will cost you anywhere between $55-80. A single cup of bone broth from Brodo in New York City costs $9.
Soup cleanses may also not offer you enough calories, which will slow down your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. The weight loss that comes from a soup cleanse is mostly water and muscle weight, not fat loss.
When dieting, you should aim to build long-term lifestyle changes like increasing vegetable and fruit consumption and exercising more. A soup cleanse might help you drop 3-5 pounds before a party, but it won’t help you with any long-term weight loss goals.
A soup cleanse is a great way to get rehydrated and reexamine your relationship with food, but if you’re looking to lose weight or detoxify, skip the soup and hit the gym. Just like juice cleansing, soup cleansing will soon be out of fashion and we’ll be obsessing over one more way to deprive ourselves of what we love in the name health and thinness.