Although the leek is the national emblem of Wales, the French have turned it into a fad diet.
These tall, white and green plants are root vegetables in the allium family (which includes garlic, chives and onions). Leeks contain many organosulfur compounds, which are organic molecules that contain sulfur. These compounds are what give allium vegetables their strong scents. But they also offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can support the immune system and overall health.
Lisa Young, nutrition consultant and author of “Finally Full, Finally Slim” and “The Portion Plan,” says that “lettuce is rich in the antioxidants kaempferol and allicin, which can help fight oxidation that leads to chronic disease.” Oxidation is the process by which cells can be damaged due to daily wear and tear or exposure to toxins.
Antioxidants help fight this process and are thought to reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Milder in flavor than onions or garlic, but still with a slightly sharp bite, leeks pair well with a variety of dishes. But the water used to boil them is a key aspect of the leek soup diet.
What is the leek soup diet?
The leek soup diet, or rather the soup itself, is sometimes called the magic leek soup. It is said to have been used by generations of French women as a quick weight loss agent that mimics fasting and can help dieters shed a few pounds quickly.
Both the magical leek soup and the leek diet approach to weight loss have gained renewed attention after being mentioned in the second season of the popular Netflix show “Emily In Paris.”
How does it work
This diet is all about soup, which is basically just the water used to cook the leeks.
The recipe couldn’t be much simpler: cut off the green ends and stringy roots of the leeks and discard them. Cut the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse under running water to remove any dirt that may have remained between the layers.
Put the leeks in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
When the leeks are cooked, pour off the liquid and save it – that’s your leek soup. “The diet calls for drinking 1 cup of leek soup every two to three hours for 48 hours,” Young says.
If you’re very hungry, you can eat half a cup of cooked leeks on their own, but the general idea is to give up solid food for 48 hours and only drink soup during the two-day leek soup fast. diet.
Some recipes call for the addition of some flavorings, such as salt, lemon or parsley. Nora Minno, a New York-based certified personal trainer and registered dietitian for Soylent plant-based protein shakes, says some recipes may suggest “adding spices or cream to make the broth taste better while still being very low in calories.” But of course, cream is a high-calorie, high-fat product, so you’ll need to control how much you add if you want the rapid weight loss promised by the leek soup diet.
- It can speed up weight loss. If they don’t eat solid food for two days, most people will naturally lose a few pounds right away.
- No counting carbs, points or calories.
- A clearly defined plan with recipes.
- Very restrictive.
- It is not a long-term or sustainable approach to diet or weight loss.
- Detailed nutritional instructions are missing.
- Potential for monotony unless you customize your soup.
- Eating out is limited.
- You’ll probably get hungry.
- Unsafe for some people, such as those with a history of eating disorders.
- A little research to back it up.
- It lags behind in terms of nutrition.
Health benefits of the leek soup diet
If you are obese or overweight, losing weight may be advisable because it can affect a number of other health metrics. Although there is not much scientific evidence available to support the use of the leek soup diet for overall health improvement, there are some health factors that may be affected by the weight loss that some dieters experience while using the leek soup diet.
Possible benefits associated with a leek soup diet may include:
A cup of leek soup contains about 15 calories, and since that’s all you’ll be eating for 48 hours, you might lose a few pounds. This weight loss may be primarily due to water weight because you are not eating solid foods; as soon as you start eating solid food again, those lost pounds can come back.
Additionally, a 2014 study found that people who eat soup have a lower risk of obesity and are more likely to consume higher quality foods. Eating a low-calorie soup before a meal can reduce hunger when the next meal arrives, which could lead to lower overall calorie consumption and weight loss. Moreover, since leeks are more than 80% water, they can help you feel full with smaller amounts of food.
Leeks also have a mild diuretic effect, meaning they will help you get rid of excess fluid through increased urine output. This can help you see immediate weight loss, pushing some dieters into a more sustainable, long-term weight loss program.
Although the leek soup diet won’t offer permanent weight loss, many people use it as a reset or “detox” when starting a new diet. Some leek soup diet enthusiasts believe that by eliminating almost all foods for a period of time, they can give their digestive tract a chance to rest and reset, but there isn’t much evidence to support this claim.
Antioxidants fight against oxidative stress in cells. It’s the daily stress from the wear and tear our bodies go through every day. Some research has shown that a diet rich in antioxidants and flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) like those found in leeks and other allium vegetables can reduce oxidative stress and the systemic inflammation it causes. This in turn can reduce the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Reduced inflammation has also been linked to delayed onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, or compounds in the allium vegetable could one day be used as a treatment for dementia; A 2015 study conducted in India noted that allicin, a molecule found in garlic and other allium vegetables, shows potential to improve cognitive and memory decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
Eating out and special diets
You will not eat out while on the leek soup diet, as only leek soup is allowed during the 48 hour period that the diet is maintained. The soup is naturally vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. It’s also dairy-free, unless you add cream, milk or another dairy product to your recipe.
Children, pregnant women, and those with an eating disorder or history of disordered eating should avoid this diet, as any super-restrictive approach to food intake can cause symptoms to worsen or relapse. Athletes and people who are very active should also be careful, and this diet provides very few calories to encourage physical activity.
Health risks of the leek soup diet
Many nutritionists view the leek soup diet as a fad or gimmick that leaves dieters hungry and more likely to overeat after the 48-hour fast is over.
Young says the leek soup diet “is not a sustainable approach to weight loss.”
Minno agrees that “the leek soup diet is not exactly the right approach to weight loss, although weight loss will most likely occur if you follow this diet.”
Gaby Vaca-Flores, a registered dietitian and founder of Glow+Greens, a nutrition and skin care consultancy based in Santa Monica, Calif., says that because a typical serving of leek soup can have between 15 and 25 calories, “if you’re a cup of leek soup every two to three hours during a typical eating period, you would only be consuming 90 to 300 calories per day. Consuming such small amounts of calories, even if only for 48 hours, can be harmful and may indicate disordered eating behavior.”
She says it can also “trick your body into thinking you’re ‘fasting,’ which will only lead to temporary water weight loss, not fat.”
Plus, “leeks are very healthy and contain beneficial nutrients,” Young says. Instead of opting for a leek soup diet, she recommends reaping the health benefits of leeks by adding them to “a more balanced diet including foods from all food groups in controlled portions for long-term weight loss.” Simply put, while a leek soup diet may not be a great choice for permanent weight loss, leeks are a great addition to any balanced diet.
Reda Elmardi, a New York-based registered dietitian and owner of thegymgoat.com, an online training resource, notes that leeks are inexpensive, versatile, and “easy to grow from seed and make a great addition to any garden.”
And, as Vaca-Flores says, “there are many ways to enjoy leeks besides soup. I recommend baking them, steaming them or adding them to a salad.” Adding more leeks to your diet will help you increase your intake of beneficial nutrients without adding too many calories.