Which is the healthier lunch: soup or a sandwich?

If you're trying to lose weight, chances are you're spending more time thinking about every food choice you make. And it turns out that, beyond the calories in-calories out equation, the foods you choose can make a difference. Take lunch. When it comes to losing weight, which is the better lunch choice: soup or a sandwich?

-Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.

The Verdict

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule-a creamy clam chowder will pack in more calories than a small turkey sandwich crammed with vegetables, for instance. But as a rule, soup is the better choice. Why?

The Health Benefits of Soup

Soup has a high water content, which can help you feel full. And, just like salad, it's a good vehicle for vegetables (the fiber in vegetables also promotes feelings of fullness for few calories). Research backs this up. In one study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, people consumed the fewest calories on days when they ate soup rather than the same ingredients in solid form.

In another study, published in Appetite, people who started lunch with vegetable soup ended up eating 20 percent less than those who skipped the soup. Broth-based soups packed with veggies give you the biggest bang for your caloric buck. (For an extra weight-loss boost, try these Recipes for Soups to Rev Your Metabolism.)

The Healthier Sandwich Option

If you do go for a sandwich, consider skipping the second slice of bread and make sure to layer on some lean protein and vegetables for added staying power. You'll save 100 calories when you opt for an open-faced sandwich. And check out these Low-Calorie Wraps & Sandwiches, which will help you meet your calorie goals.