Like juice cleanses, soup cleanses typically last one to three days and promise you a reset. By ditching added sugars, dairy, and gluten and taking in mainly vegetable soups, you give your digestive system a break. Your body will thank you, companies claim, with glowing skin, better sleep, and renewed energy. A handful of companies have started offering them, with a really delicious-sounding lineup of flavors. Los Angeles–based Soupure makes a mix of chilled and hot options (pineapple-papaya-fennel, spicy asparagus-leek), while Philadelphia's Real Food Works has a carrot coconut curry. I tried The Splendid Spoon, which is based in Brooklyn and cooks batches of kale ginger and butternut squash and turmeric. The companies encourage you to hydrate with water in between soups to enhance the potential cleansing benefits. Considering trying one yourself? Here's what you should know.
You'll feel full thanks to fiber.
The biggest leg up soup has over juice is fiber. Juices are pure carbs, or sugar. "Juices lack the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables found in soups that slow sugar absorption," says Jennifer McDaniel, an RDN and owner of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy. "A fiber shortage will leave your stomach rumbling in an hour. Soups, on the other hand, are associated with satiety." (It's true, I didn't feel hungry at all throughout the day.) Katrine van Wyk, a holistic health and nutrition coach and author of the new cookbook Best Greens Ever, agrees. "Many of the juice cleanses available contain juices with way too much fruit, which can mess with your blood sugar balance."
There are downsides.
"Detoxing" has very little science behind it, and the jury is still out whether our liver and kidneys, which naturally cleanse the body all the time, need help. Committing to a soup cleanse for a few days is likely fine, but going any longer without protein can lead to a loss of muscle mass and a sluggish metabolism, McDaniel says. And be prepared to shell out some dough. One day will run you at least $50.
It can foster more mindful eating.
This depends on your end goal. I did Splendid Spoon's for one day looking for nothing more than a good reason to quit mindlessly snacking on at my desk. I also had noticed that I was going too long between trips to fill up my water bottle. After only one day, I felt totally virtuous for knowing how many vegetables and how little processed food I had eaten. (And yes, by dinner my jeans felt a tad looser.) But that's not long enough to yield lasting benefits beyond a mental shift. It's just a tasty, nutritious way to step away from the vending machine and focus on filling up on the good stuff. And if that sounds good to you, go for it.