The Chicken Soup Diet is a regimen used primarily for quick, short-term weight loss. Its main component is a broth-based chicken and vegetable soup, which participants can consume in unlimited amounts. The average recommended duration for the diet is approximately seven days.
The first step in the diet tends to require the participant to make a large batch of chicken soup, often around 6.5 quarts (6.17 liters). Although the exact recipes for the chicken soup may vary depending on the precise version of the diet plan, it generally consists of 4 cups (560 g) of cooked and shredded chicken. The chicken is usually heated in oil with vegetables, such as a chopped carrot, celery stalk, pepper, or onion. Once all the ingredients are heated through, they are combined with around 4 quarts (3.8 liters) of chicken broth and boiled. The soup can be stored in one big batch or separated into 1 cup (240 ml) individual servings.
A day on the Chicken Soup Diet usually begins with an approved breakfast, which is the only meal on the diet that does not contain chicken soup. Approved breakfasts generally contain a mixture of dairy or whole grains and fruit as a means to get additional vitamins and minerals that the chicken soup does not provide. Examples of approved breakfasts include wheat bread, bran cereal, cottage cheese, or yogurt with dried or fresh fruit. Beverages that are permitted include nonfat milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, or water.
After the initial meal of the day, the rest of a participant’s eating plan consists of unlimited amounts of chicken soup. The soup cannot be paired with any other foods and can only be accompanied with the permitted beverages. To ensure a participant intakes enough key nutrients, it's best for the dieter to take a multivitamin each day while on the diet. After seven days of the regimen, a participant can switch to a less strict eating plan that contains more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein.
Critics of this diet believe it is not healthy because the plan is so limiting in the types of foods a participant can eat. Although the chicken soup contains vegetables, the diet only permits one serving of fruit and dairy, which is generally not a large enough amount to fulfill a person’s nutritional needs. Critics also believe the diet only causes weight loss due to drastic cutting of calories, which can be dangerous if continued for an extended period of time. The plan also does not require any physical activity, which most healthcare professionals highly recommend for weight loss.