Soup First Cuts Calories Later
Soup May Fill You Up Before Higher-Calorie Courses, Study Shows
May 1, 2007 -- Starting a meal with soup may help you cut calories, say
nutrition experts at Pennsylvania State University.
They served lunch to 60 normal-weight men and women once a week for five
For four of those weeks, the lunch menu started with a low-calorie,
broth-based vegetable soup. All of the soups were homemade and contained the
same ingredients, though some soups were pureed and others contained vegetable
Fifteen minutes after the soup was served, participants were served cheese
tortellini with tomato sauce.
For comparison, no soup was served during one of the five lunches.
Cutting Calories With Soup
The bottom line: Participants consumed 20% fewer calories when they started
their meals with soup.
They consumed 150 calories in an average soup serving. Even so, they still
averaged 135 fewer calories for the entire lunch when lunch started with
The results were similar for pureed and chunky soups, notes researcher Julie
Flood, a nutrition sciences graduate student at Pennsylvania State
Starting a meal with soup "can be a good way to still feel satisfied -- you
get a second course of food -- but also manage your calorie intake," Flood
"Ultimately, it may help with weight management as well," she
The soup-first strategy may be a good idea when dining in restaurants, Flood
says. The same technique also applies at home, provided you don't rush from the
soup to the rest of your meal.
Remember, the entrée was served 15 minutes after the soup. That's about the
amount of time restaurants take to serve an entree after appetizers, Flood
Flood presented her findings today in Washington at Experimental Biology
2007, an annual meeting of several scientific societies.
Of course, soup calories still count. If your soup is sky-high in calories
and swimming in heavy cream, you may lose your calorie advantage.
"I would say in terms of advice, women should make sure that they don't
go over 150 calories in their first course and the guys, 200 [calories]
maximum," Barbara Rolls, PhD, tells WebMD.
Rolls, a professor of nutritional science at Pennsylvania State University,
worked with Flood on the study.
"Fewer calories, bigger volume is the way to go because then that helps
fill you up and you eat less of what is usually more calorie-dense in the next
course," says Rolls, who is the author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan:
Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories.