Wouldn’t it be great to melt away pounds without depriving yourself of your favorite foods — and boost your metabolism, mood, and overall health at the same time? The good news is, you can!
Earlier this year, Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of The Dr. Oz Show, rolled out a new diet plan that he describes as “a comprehensive, science-based health overhaul you can actually live with.” Dr. Oz and his team worked on it for months, pulling ideas from the latest research and current trends to create a plan that allows cocktails and cheat days — perfect for the holidays! — while promising steady weight loss as well as improvements in mood, energy, and blood pressure.
Beans slash cholesterol better than meds.
Dr. Oz’s System 20 plan encourages enjoying at least one cup of beans daily — and research shows that it only takes a half cup per day to lower total cholesterol. “Making beans, plus fruit and whole grains, the centerpiece of your diet can lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 33 percent — that’s more than most drugs,” asserts Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a world-renowned nutrition expert and bestselling author of Eat to Live (Buy on Amazon, $9.99). Researchers credit the soluble fiber in beans, which binds to cholesterol in the GI tract so it can be removed from the body, as well as phytochemicals that ease blood-vessel inflammation, which can cause cholesterol to collect in the arteries.
Dr. Oz’s new slimming plan includes a powerful upgrade to the popular trend of intermittent fasting. In addition to eating meals within a set window (enjoying your first meal around 11 AM and finishing dinner by 7 PM), Dr. Oz’s System 20 (branded for the year 2020) calls for eating at least a half cup of beans twice a day. Why that’s smart: Regularly eating beans improves insulin levels by 73 percent and spikes fat burning by 25 percent — and eating meals within a set window gives the body ample time to use up excess blood sugar and switch to burning stored fat for fuel. As Dr. Oz explains, it’s a similar effect to “what happens when people go on the keto diet.” The difference? You don’t have to give up carbs!
Speed weight loss with a bowl of soup.
Supercharging weight loss on Dr. Oz’s plan is as simple as eating at least one bowl of soup each day. And the more soup you eat, the faster you’ll lose. That’s because soup gives the body a break from sugar and processed foods while flooding it with easy-to-absorb nutrients that heal tired cells and “help you burn fat and elevate your metabolism,” says Dr. Oz. The end result? “A total-body reset that helps you lose weight and gain energy!” The payoff: In a study published in the journal Obesity, women who enjoyed two servings of soup each day lost 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t regularly enjoy broth-based fare.
Combining these two strategies also alleviates hunger, a common problem for women who try fasting. “Studies show consuming soup is a healthy and effective strategy for weight loss because soup makes you feel full so you take in fewer calories,” Dr. Oz has said. That’s because soup activates stretch receptors in the stomach that send satiety signals to the brain more effectively than water or solid food — an effect Penn State researchers report helps soup eaters eat 20 percent fewer calories at their next meal.
Intermittent fasting plus soup melts belly fat.
The proof is in the results: Women report that combining intermittent fasting with soup speeds weight loss — and many of those lost pounds come from the belly. Just ask 47-year-old Holly Jenkins. The Texas wife and mother lost 150 pounds and 24 inches from her waist by spooning up soup regularly while eating all of her calories during a set window each day. “I never felt deprived. Not even once,” she raves. “Now I’ve got my 15-year-old body back!” Other women FIRST spoke to reported losing up to 16 pounds each week.
Just as nice as the shrinking number on the scale are the health benefits, including reduced body bloat, glowing skin, and sunnier moods. Plus, studies at the University of California, San Diego, show that this plan helps women feel 23 percent more well-rested — even when they only sleep 3 percent longer — because fasting resets the body’s circadian clocks. “This is actually a program that you could theoretically stay on forever,” Dr. Oz has said. “You’d feel energized so you’d feel like you control your destiny again.” Ready to start? Read on!
How System 20 Works
In addition to enjoying meals between 11 AM and 7 PM, Dr. Oz’s plan is pretty simple: Start the day with a cup of coffee or tea blended with one tablespoon of MCT oil, like Nature’s Way Organic MCT Oil (Buy on Amazon, $23.41). Since the brew is carb-free and loaded with healthy fats, it won’t break your fast — and the ingredients are proven to work synergistically to ward off hunger and boost energy so you can breeze through your morning while reaping the many health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Around 11 AM, you’ll dig into a bowl of soup loaded with at least a half cup of beans and one cup of greens as well as three ounces of protein from chicken, beef, tofu, or even more beans. Dinner can be another soup creation or a sensible solid meal, as long as you include a half cup of beans, one cup of greens, and 3 ounces of protein on your plate.
You can also nosh on a half cup of berries as a snack or for dessert, and if you’re hungry between meals, go for healthy low-carb options like olives, nuts, cheese, and hard-cooked eggs. “It’s super-easy,” Dr. Oz has promised. “This is about having a system to live your best life.”
Adding just one bowl of soup each day to Dr. Oz’s System 20 plan supercharges the body’s fat-burning systems. And, best of all, you’ll still be able to indulge in holiday treats, since Dr. Oz’s protocol calls for enjoying one “cheat day” each week to give your metabolism a boost.
Worried about the time it takes to prep and cook slimming soup? Try some of the time-saving tips FIRST readers shared with us: “I swear by the Instant Pot,” says 73-year-old Karen Evans, who lost 92 pounds and cured chronic knee pain by eating more soup throughout the week. (Buy an Instant Pot at Walmart, $79.) “I also rely on rotisserie chicken — you can get three or four bowls of soup out of each chicken!” Many women who have had success with this strategy also recommend preparing two or three large batches of soup on the weekend to reheat and enjoy throughout the week.
When you’re truly pressed for time, you can also pick up soup on the go. Try a bowl of Tuscan White Bean Soup from Au Bon Pain, or a bowl of Ten Vegetable Soup and a Green Goddess Cobb Salad from Panera. Shopping the supermarket? Go for Progresso’s lentil soup, Amy’s black bean vegetable soup, or Pacific Foods’ split pea soup — just stir in two handfuls of leafy greens or enjoy a side salad with each.
Toss together delicious System 20–inspired soups!
1. CHOOSE A BROTH. Start with a 32 oz. package of low-sodium broth as your base—consider selecting bone broth (like Pacific Foods brand), which contains slimming amino acids. Or use your own homemade broth. (Tip: Try using leftover turkey bones!)
2. ADD BEANS AND GREENS. On Dr. Oz’s System 20 plan, you’ll add two cups of beans and four cups of leafy greens to each four-serving batch of soup. Beans help you feel satisfied and spike fat burn by 25 percent, while greens fill you up and provide slimming minerals.
3. PICK ADDITIONAL FLAVORS. For hearty soup with hunger-dampening power, include up to two cups of your favorite vegetables, like tomatoes, onions, celery, or carrots. You can also add up to one cup of high-protein grains, like amaranth or buckwheat, for texture.
4. STIR IN HERBS AND SPICES. Stir in up to four teaspoons of your favorite herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cumin, thyme, sage, or cayenne. Not only do these picks add big flavor, but herbs and spices are study-proven to dial back inflammation and fire up fat burn.
5. SIMMER AND ENJOY. To make four servings in a stockpot: Sauté base vegetables (like onions, carrots, squash, or celery) until soft. Stir in 32 ounces of broth, additional vegetables (except leafy greens), and any spices desired. Let soup simmer for 25 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to desired softness. Stir in leafy greens as well as pre-cooked beans and grains; simmer for five minutes to heat through.
Prefer to use a slow cooker? Combine vegetables, stock and spices and cook on low for eight hours or high for four hours. Add leafy greens and pre-cooked beans and grains for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Once the soup is cooled, ladle it into heatproof individual-size containers or gallon-size zip-top freezer bags, making sure to label containers with the date — soup keeps in the fridge for about five days and in the freezer for three months.
Or try these soups from our test kitchen …
Mushroom barley soup. In a large pot, cook four cups mixed button and shiitake mushrooms, a diced onion, a diced carrot, and two diced celery ribs in two tablespoons olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes. Add two teaspoons minced garlic and one teaspoon thyme; cook until garlic is fragrant, about three minutes. Add four cups of broth and a half cup of pearled barley; simmer for 35 minutes. Add one can navy beans, rinsed, and four cups baby spinach; cook to heat through. (Serves 4)
White bean escarole soup. In a large pot, cook four ounces bacon until crisp. Add a diced onion, a diced carrot, and a diced celery rib; cook 10 minutes. Add three teaspoons minced garlic, a half teaspoon oregano, a half teaspoon thyme, and salt and pepper to taste; cook until garlic is fragrant, about three minutes. Stir in four cups broth and a half head of escarole, cut into ribbons; simmer 15 minutes. Add one can white beans, rinsed; cook to heat through. (Serves 4)
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.