Is Leek Soup the Secret to Magical Weight Loss? The Truth
"Leeks are a diet food for French women. We boil them and drink the water. It's our magic trick and a little secret." – Sylvie, the French CEO of Savior magazine, from Emily in Paris.
This comment, shocking as it was, is lifted directly from the iconic bestselling book from 20 years ago, French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure written by Mireille Guiliano. In the book, her "health advice" is given by Guiliano's family physician, who she refers to as "Doctor Miracle," since he helped her lose weight after spending time in the US as an exchange student and returning to France with extra pounds.
The doctor recommended that she begin a steady diet of leek soup, sipping it every 2 to 3 hours over the span of 48 hours and in two days, the soup, which acts as a mild diuretic, helped her lose several pounds, hence the genesis of Sylvie's "magic trick."
The idea got a boost again when the Netflix show aired the episode that revisited this Miracle Doc's advice: "The soup should be sipped every two hours for weight loss results." But we wanted to know: Is there any truth to this?
We wanted to know if eating leek soup is actually effective as a weight loss secret. Shortly after the episode, the searches surged for: "Does leek soup make you lose weight?" We also wanted to know should we eat leeks for other health benefits? Here's everything you need to know about the science behind leeks or leek soup and weight loss, and the green vegetable's powerful antioxidants, which are worth making soup for.
Leeks May Promote Natural Weight Loss
Leeks are low in calories and a good source of fiber: 100 grams of cooked leeks contain 31 calories and 1.2 grams of fiber, which helps us feel fuller longer.
Leeks are also made up of 83 percent water, which may help promote a feeling of fullness. Nicole Osinga, RD who created The Beet's Plant-Based Diet advises dieters to ensure they're drinking enough water if weight loss is the goal: "It helps in three ways, by suppressing your appetite, increasing your body's metabolic rate, and increasing your energy expenditure."
How to calculate how much water you should drink:
- Multiply your weight in pounds by two-thirds, or 0.67 percent. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you need to drink 94 ounces of water daily.
Leeks Contain Two Important Antioxidants
Leeks are rich in kaempferol and allicin, two important antioxidants that help fight oxidation which can cause certain diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers, according to a review study.
- Kaempferol has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer by protecting the body from free radicals, according to a different study where researchers also mention, "kaempferol modulates... inflammation and metastasis."
- Allicin Leeks are also rich in allicin (also the main active compound in garlic) which gives the plant its natural color. Like any antioxidant, allicin helps reduce oxidative stress which protects the body from diseases. Allicin has been shown in studies to help lower blood sugar, as well as help lower LDL cholesterol, and keep blood pressure in check, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies also suggest allicin may help your muscles recover from injury or a hard workout. But no studies link it to weight loss.
The Verdict on Emily in Paris' Leek Soup for Weightloss
Studies on leeks or eating a steady diet of leek soup for weight loss are scarce. University of Sydney obesity expert Dr. Nick Fuller doesn’t advise trying a leek soup diet for lasting weight loss. “Fasting diets are very appealing right now,” Fuller says. “They’re just fancy ways of cutting calories from your diet and from a weight loss point of view, they’re not the answer. The answer is forming habits that last a lifetime.”
However, adding leeks to a healthy plant-based diet low in added sugar, processed foods, and high-fat foods can lead to natural weight loss thanks to fiber and compounds in plants that help burn fat and boost metabolism.
Bottom Line: Add leek soup to a varied plant-based diet for healthy weight loss
Leeks as part of a balanced plant-based diet that is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants may promote natural weight loss since studies show that a high-fiber diet can help keep blood sugar low and allow your body to burn fat for fuel.
More importantly, leeks contain two powerful antioxidants, kaempferol, and allicin which help fight diseases including certain cancers, as well as helps lower inflammation, blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Click here for a healthy and creamy vegan leek soup recipe.
For more great content, check out The Beet's healthy diet and weight loss stories.