JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, November 30, 2007

7-day diet with fat-burning soup

I've recently had a spike of searches for this seven-day-eat-all-you-like diet (not sure how they end up on my blog, but they do) ... it's not something I've ever done myself, and I'm not sure I'd want to. But I'd be interested to know what you all think about it ...

I'm a little wary of this claim: This diet is given to people who need to lose weight rapidly before undergoing surgery. And there's something not good about the idea of a fat-burning soup, but here's the recipe:


1 large bunch green onions
2 green peppers
28oz can tomatoes
6 beef bouillon cubes (optional)
several cloves garlic
1 bunch celery
1 large head cabbage
1 package onion soup mix
several bay leaves
herbs or spices

Cut vegetables into small bite-sized pieces and put all except tomatoes into pot. Cover with water and and boil fast for 10 minutes. Let simmer for approximately 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, bring back to boil and heat through. Add soup mix and simmer for 10 mins. May be seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley, curry etc to taste. Add extra tomatoes or cabbage if desired.

The website says it's giving away the diet free as a favour to mankind (womankind??), but it's also trying to get you to spend $18 on a CD.

So I'm confused, and I'd really like your views.


Joanna said...

Here's the first comment, which I received in the form of an email from a thin and glamorous friend ... first hand experience of this diet:

I read your post with regard to the fat burning soup and must say that I have tried the diet and it really does work, and very quickly too. I do it 2 or 3 times a year, before holiday and such like and if I stick to it completely and absolutely, then I will lose 10lbs in that week. Where I weaken is with milk in my coffee, etc and it really does make a difference if one does not stick to it exactly.

The good news however, is that there is far more to the diet than just the suop. The version I use is the basic recipes as per your blog, in unlimited quantities, but also the following

Day 1. Unlimited fruit
Day 2 Unlimited veg plus a jacket potato with butter (but I use the butter allowance to stir fry some veg, but this is not strictly permitted)

Day 3 Unlimited fruit and veg
Day 4 Skimmed mild and 8 bananas (I use the milk in my coffee, but again this isn't strictly permitted)
Day 5 Unlimited tomatoes and up to 12 oz beef
Day 6 Unlimited veg plus up to 16 oz beef
Day 7 Unlimited vegetables and brown rice.

Only water, black tea/coffee to drink. No diet sodas, fruit juice or alcohol. Bananas are about the only fruit not permitted, apart from day 4) and avocados are also out!

Unfortunately the soup doesn't keep well and with all the chopping is a pain to make and I cannot bear the smell of it so of late I have eaten the ingredients raw mixed up as a rather crude salad. Also, I have tried every possible type of cabbage and onion variety but just can't manage a soup I like, despite the fact that I like all the ingredients. However, without having the soup every day the diet doesn't work as well but the net loss will be say 7lbs per week which is still pretty good going.

Thanks - really good to get some user experience ... and it would be good to have some feedback from the nutritionists among you ;)

Sophie said...

As a nutritionist I would say that is a load of rubbish!

There's always a new supposedly "magic" diet out there with lots of complicated food combinations but that basically just works because it is very low in calories.

Most people will lose weight on this plan, but I can't see any reason why this would be magically, selectively "fat burning". As a very low calorie diet, which is what this is, it is likely that by following it you would lose glycogen stores, a type of quickly available energy that is stored and lost with water (and water is heavy), muscle (which you don't want to lose because lean muscle helps you to burn calories) and yes, some fat.

A less extreme diet with more calories than this would result in slower weight loss but you wouldn't be losing glycogen (water) which always comes back along with that few pounds of water, or muscle (your most valuable asset in using up calories).

Being very overweight and needing to lose weight for surgery is one of the very few scenarios in which a very low calorie diet may be appropriate but I have never seen this particular combination of foods suggested in a professional setting.

The soup in itself is not a bad thing, it's just a very low calorie snack that will fill people up because of the volume of liquid. A more appropriate way to use it might be in place of higher calorie between meal snacks or before meals to help reduce portion sizes.

The diet in itself is not at all nutritionally well balanced so if anybody tries it I definitely wouldn't do it for more than the one week suggested.

I don't like it, can you tell? :-)

Sophie said...

p.s Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital (where the diet supposedly originated) have even issued a press release saying that they have nothing to do with it and that they do not consider it to be healthy or safe:

Joanna said...

Between them, Sophie and my friend have given us the definitive view of the 7-day fat-burning-soup, eat-all-you-like diet ... it's effective but not very good for you; it's hard to stick to and not something you should do for more than a week at once; it's not something doctors or dieticians would recommend. Everything we knew, really.

Best to stick to the diets outlined in my sidebar: the basic rules, the healthy eating pyramid, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's diet, the 80-20 rule (because there are days when only chocolate/cream bun/second helpings will do).

Thanks, both of you ...

Anonymous said...

I did this diet once when I had a special occasion and I needed to lose weight fast. I lost around 6 kilos in a week. As soon as I began to eat normally again, I put it all back on, and more. It made me feel a bit weak and light-headed as well. And you'll never want to eat cabbage again.

Anonymous said...

hi,i am trying your diet right now,and i was just woundering does the soup stay good for the whole 7 days or do i need to make more after 2 days?i just stared the diet on 1-12-08.and i made a whole pot full of this soup.

Kate said...

I recently found this diet plan in the form of a pre-internet printout tucked inside an old cookbook. It's titled as the "American Heart Association Diet for Overweight Heart Patients" and is explained as a detox diet. Makes sense for some, maybe junkfood addicts, to use it as a jumpstart prelude to a more balanced diet.

mhy said...

the soup doesnt taste good.. but hope it will work