Choosing the right foods when trying to lose weight can be confusing. What about miso soup, is it good for weight loss or fattening?
Miso is a type of paste made by fermenting soybeans. Sometimes other ingredients like barley and rice are added too.
Miso soup is basically soup that uses miso and dashi stock, a Japanese kind of fish stock.
Depending on what other ingredients are used in the miso and miso soup, miso soup can both contain gluten and be gluten-free. Make sure to check the food label of the ingredients if this is relevant for you.
Like most soups, many people will benefit in terms of weight loss by eating more miso soup. You do need other foods to consume enough important nutrients. Find out just how good miso soup is for weight loss and an example recipe you can try out.
Example miso soup recipe
There is not one single way to make miso soup. Depending on the quantities and ingredients used, nutritional values will vary too. However, by taking a look at one miso soup recipe you get an overall view of the impact of this dish on weight loss.
The guidelines are for two servings of miso soup.
- 1 teaspoon dashi granules
- 2 cups (480 grams) water
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- 8 ounces (224 grams) soft tofu
- 1 onion
- 1 medium carrot
Depending on your personal nutrition needs you may decide to add or remove ingredients. For example if you have trouble reaching your daily protein goals you may add eggs to your miso soup.
- Combine the dashi granules with water in a pot
- Add the carrot and onion and bring the mix to a boil
- Once boiling turn the heat down and keep the mix simmering
- Stir in the miso and add the tofu (make sure the mix isn’t too warm to preserve nutrients)
- Cook until ready (about 5 minutes)
This article will use the estimated nutritional values of 100 grams of this miso soup recipe.
Micronutrients in miso soup
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in miso soup.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
- Vitamin A: 23% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Manganese: 7% of the DV
- Sodium: 5% of the DV
- Selenium: 4% of the DV
- Folate: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 3% of the DV
- Copper: 3% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
- Magnesium: 3% of the DV
- Calcium: 3% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. That’s a decent amount of vitamins and minerals per 100 grams compared to a lot of other foods. You do have to keep in mind that this is 100 grams of soup. In reality, it is more likely that you drink at least 200 grams in one sitting.
If you have trouble reaching your daily vitamin and mineral goals miso soup can help you a nice amount with many vitamins and minerals.
The example miso soup recipe does not contain that many vegetables. You can easily increase these numbers by adding more nutrient-dense vegetables.
Fermented foods and weight loss
Miso is a fermented food which means, if prepared right, miso soup contains something called “probiotics”. Eating more probiotics, both in food and supplements, may help you with weight loss (5, 6, 7).
For now, the claims about the potential of probiotics for weight loss are not waterproof (10, 11). More studies are required to make statements with more confidence. In any case probiotics will likely not be bad for weight loss and good for health so you might as well include them.
Keep in mind that heating up miso too much destroys a lot of the bacteria. Since this is something you preferably want to avoid you don’t want to add miso to the soup too early.
Fiber in miso soup for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
The example miso soup contains around 0.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That’s not a very big amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many whole foods. For most people more fiber is a good thing for weight loss.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
The two things that again matter here is that miso soup is a liquid which makes it easier to consume a lot of. And secondly that the example recipe does not contain that many vegetables. If are in need of more fiber in your diet you can simply add more foods with fiber, like vegetables, to your miso soup.
Is miso soup good for losing weight?
To know whether or not you can eat miso soup while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in miso soup.
The example recipe of miso soup contains around 29.1 calories per 100 grams. 12.4 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (3.1 g per 100 grams of which 0.6 g fiber).
You should be able to fit in miso soup in low carb diets like the keto diet.
The number of calories in miso soup is on the low side compared to many whole foods although there are vegetables that have even fewer. For this nutritional aspect miso soup being liquid can be interpreted as being less helpful for weight loss.
Even with that in mind miso soup is low in calories compared to how filling it is. With the amount of fiber and low number of calories this means that miso soup can help you feel fuller without adding that many calories to your diet. On top of that, the probiotics in miso soup may offer some extra weight loss benefits.
This can help you avoid higher-calorie foods. And for most people that, and thus adding miso soup to their daily diet, is enough to help them lose weight.
If you are gaining weight while eating miso soup, the first place to look at is the rest of your diet and other lifestyle habits. Miso soup is generally not fattening.
Should you lose weight by only eating soup?
While eating some miso soup each day can be beneficial, there are also diets called “soup diets”. These basically mean that you are mainly eating soup for an extended period of time.
There are a few problems with these soup diets. First of all, losing weight too fast can have negative side effects. By only eating soup you may not consume enough calories.
For most people, losing 1-2 pounds (0.45-0.8 kg) of fat per week is considered a healthy weight loss rate.
This means a calorie deficit of about 500-100 calories a day which results in 3500 – 7000 calories a week.
Secondly, these soup diets often lack nutrients. One example of a nutrient that is hard to consume enough of with soup is protein.
If you struggle a lot with overeating calories swapping one meal a day with soup may help you lose weight. On the other hand, you have soup diets that restrict nutrients and calories too much.
Eating soup in the right amount can be beneficial for weight loss. How much the right amount is, depends on things like your daily calorie requirements, the other things you eat, and your other lifestyle habits.