The cabbage soup diet is a very strict, very low calorie diet and it isn’t for the faint hearted.
Despite being called ‘The Cabbage Soup Diet’, surprisingly, you don’t just have to eat cabbage soup. Although you do eat mainly cabbage soup, not many people realise that you can also have fruit, other veg and even some meat (on certain days).
The cabbage soup diet has been a popular quick-fix diet for years due to claims that you can lose up to 10 pounds in a short period of time. But is it the right quick weight-loss plan for you?
As the cabbage soup diet plan is an extreme diet that is incredibly restrictive, you shouldn’t stay on it for more than one week. Like the 5:2 plan and other intermittent fasting diets, this restrictive diet plan is a good way to lose weight quickly but is not sustainable in the long-term. For long-term, sustainable weight loss, try healthier diets that you’re more likely to stick to, such as the high-protein diet or the medically recommended Mediterranean diet.
What is the cabbage soup diet?
The cabbage soup diet is an extremely low-fat, high-fibre diet that lasts seven days. The concept is fairly simple – you make and eat as much cabbage soup as you want. Generally people eat between two to three bowls a day.
The idea is that your homemade cabbage soup (which carries virtually no calories) will help you feel full and aid some weight loss by stopping you snacking between meals.
Whilst cabbage is key, you can eat other low fat foods whilst on the cabbage soup diet plan, says nutritionist Mina Khan, founder of Formulate Health:
“The soup doesn’t only contain cabbage. Many recipes include green peppers, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables,” she tells us. “As well as cabbage soup, the diet allows you to start incorporating different fruits and vegetables in the first few days, and slowly reintroduces lean meats, dairy and rice towards the end of the 7 day program.”
The cabbage soup diet is only designed as a kick-start to help you lose weight quickly.
“The person following such a diet may see the effects, but a diet like this is not sustainable and should not be practiced for an extended period of time,” says dietitian Jasmine Carbon of Carbon Nutrition. This is because of its (unsurprising) cabbage focus and cutting out of other key food groups.
Pros and cons of the cabbage soup diet
Dietitian Jasmine Carbon points out cabbage’s nutritional benefits:
“Cabbage is a great source of fibre essential for gut flora and bowel health,” she says. “Eating a portion of cabbage would count towards your 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
“However, it should be eaten as part of a balanced diet. This is not a diet I would recommend anyone to follow,” she adds.
Jasmine is concerned with how restrictive the cabbage soup diet plan is, which in turn could affect your body both physically and mentally:
“If done for a number of days the person could miss out on vital calories, protein, vitamins and minerals essential for the body to function and to allow you to carry out your day-to-day tasks.”
Mina agrees that the diet’s focus can wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels. Leaving individuals feeling faint or weak and is particularly dangerous for those with diabetes.
The cabbage soup diet also has a reputation for leaving you full of wind (lovely). This is because cabbage is high in fibre and can cause some digestive issues for those who aren’t used to consuming high quantities of fibre.
“Expect to experience some gastro-intestinal discomfort such as bloating, gas build up, nausea and flatulence,” adds Jasmine. Diarrhoea is another common side-effect of the cabbage soup diet plan.
Whilst weight loss can be expected (and seen as a pro of this diet), it’s worth noting that those who follow the cabbage soup diet will put the weight back on when they come off it.
“In terms of weight loss, this diet could definitely help almost anyone to shed some weight within a few days,” says Mina. “However it’s crucial to bear in mind that this diet is not a sustainable way to lose weight in the long run, and will likely result in you regaining the weight you lose once you stop restricting your intake of normal foods.”
Cabbage soup diet review
Caitlin Fitzgerald, 54, from Morpeth, Northumberland, tried the Cabbage Soup Diet. But how did she get on? And did she lose any weight… ?
“My husband’s work do was coming up and I wanted to fit back into a slinky black dress I’d had for years. I put off dieting until I only had a couple of weeks to go then suddenly panicked! The cabbage soup diet seemed a good way of losing weight fast.
“I made a fresh batch of the cabbage soup every two or three days and followed the other bits of the plan, like eating lots of fruit and veg. Though I didn’t mind the cabbage soup to start with, by about day four, I’d gone right off it! I tried to make it more interesting by adding different veg and herbs but it didn’t make it much better.
“It had rotten side effects too – my husband nearly ended up sleeping in the spare room I was so full of wind! But I stuck at it for a week and lost four pounds. I fitted into my little black dress but, to be honest, I’d put all the weight back on two weeks later!”
Cabbage soup diet 7-day meal plan
Day 1: You can eat as much fruit as you want (except bananas) along with unlimited cabbage soup, water and unsweetened tea and coffee.
Day 2: Avoid fruit but eat raw veg and cabbage soup. You’re allowed a baked potato in the evening.
Day 3: As much cabbage soup, fruit and vegetables as you like (excluding potatoes and bananas).
Day 4: Unlimited cabbage soup. You can drink some skimmed milk and eat up to eight bananas.
Day 5: Lots of cabbage soup and 565g of beef and six tomatoes. Makes sure you drink 6-8 glasses of water.
Day 6: As much cabbage soup, beef and vegetables as you like (excluding potatoes).
Day 7: Unlimited cabbage soup, a little brown rice and sugar-free fruit juice.
Top tip: Spice up your soup by adding some cayenne pepper – it’ll make it taste better.
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Cabbage gained a reputation for promoting weight loss thanks to a variety of diets based on cabbage soup. But you don’t need the fad diets. Red cabbage has a lot going for it as a weight-loss tool when it’s included as part of a balanced diet that sustains a healthy lifestyle. Red cabbage offers a combination of nutrients, fiber and low calories that help you lose weight without feeling hungry.
Very Few Calories
Red cabbage meets one proven criteria to help you lose weight: It’s very low in calories. You can eat 1 cup of shredded red cabbage and consume just 22 calories. The potential downfall of red cabbage comes from adding calories in the form of salad dressings. You can reduce the calories from mayonnaise-based dressing by at least half if you choose light mayonnaise. Try cooking methods that don’t rely on mayonnaise. You can slice red cabbage into quarters and roast it, saute it in low-sodium chicken broth or steam the cabbage and drizzle balsamic vinegar over it.
Sometimes the only way to cut back on calories is to restrict the amount of food you eat, which often leaves you feeling hungry or unsatisfied. The concept of energy density refers to the number of calories in a specific weight of food, which shifts the focus by identifying foods that you can feel free to enjoy, eat a normal portion of and still stay within your diet. One component responsible for a low-energy-dense food is water. It increases the food’s bulk without adding calories. Since red cabbage is 90 percent water, you can eat a large portion and stay on your diet without feeling like you’re deprived of food.
Fiber Keeps You Full
Fiber supports your health by lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation, but it’s also good for weight loss. It’s a second factor that contributes to low-energy density, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It delays the release of ghrelin that normally occurs after a meal. Since ghrelin stimulates hunger, this subsequently holds off hunger. As fiber absorbs water, it takes up space in your stomach, which makes you feel full. Then it slows down the release of food from your stomach so you feel full longer.
Rich in Nutrients
It’s easy to miss out on nutrients as you reduce caloric intake. Red cabbage can help with that through the vitamins it provides. One cup of shredded red cabbage contains 39.9 milligrams of vitamin C, which supplies about half of your recommended dietary allowance. It provides 26.7 micrograms of vitamin K, an amount that provides 30 percent of women’s and 22 percent of men’s daily intake. You’ll also get at least one-fourth of your RDA for vitamin A. Red cabbage is a source of the phytochemicals isothiocyanates. Even though they’re not essential nutrients, these phytochemicals may lower your risk of developing some types of cancer.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cabbage, Red, Raw
- Current Obesity Reports: Is There a Place for Dietary Fiber Supplements in Weight Management?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low Energy Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger
- Linus Pauling Institute: Isothiocyanates
- Colorado State University: Ghrelin
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.
By Penny Rosina
Any soup diet can be considered a crash or fad diet and the Cabbage Soup Diet is no exception.
These diets are DANGEROUS because the total calorie consumption is so low that it causes real harm to your body. The Cabbage Soup Diet promises “users can lose 10 to 15 pounds in seven days” by following a strict regimen that includes unlimited amounts of cabbage soup, but it’s no way to achieve permanent weight loss.
Diabetics are particularly at risk if they follow this diet plan. People with diabetes could have problems maintaining their blood glucose level. There are not enough proteins or carbohydrates in this meal plan and too many high-sugar fruits.
Here are more reasons to avoid the Cabbage Soup Diet:
- Can cause gallbladder attacks
- Lightheaded or dizziness
- Bad breath
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle tone
- Dramatic drop in metabolism
- Upset stomach
- Feeling slow and sluggish
The most common side effect is the unavoidable gas . When your body is ingesting this many vegetables, plus the high intake of cabbage, you’re sure to pass some less-than-pleasant odors. The diet is low calorie and high fiber, which won’t always agree well with your stomach.
Fasting and crash dieting also deprives your body of many necessary nutrients and, in the long term, these types of diets may weaken your heart . Weight loss is temporary and most people will regain any lost weight quickly.
Because the Cabbage Soup Diet has such a low calorie intake and virtually no protein, weight lost on this diet will be water and muscle, not body fat. Gaining all that weight back can be crushing psychologically, which can lead to comfort eating and loss of motivation to exercise, which in turn leads to more weight gain.
While cabbage itself is a healthy choice, full of fiber and vitamin C, the diet itself is not a well-rounded meal plan.
Don’t deprive your body of the nutrients it needs and keep long-term health benefits by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with the right nutrition and daily exercise!
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Penny Rosina is a Certified Fitlife.tv Transformation Coach, as well as a published author, photographer, Reiki Master and former healthcare systems consultant.Compassionate to the core, she has been exactly where you are and now dedicates her time and energy to finding the right plan to help you on your journey to a healthy and fit life.
Penny prides herself on being attentive to her clients’ needs, while helping them to develop the necessary nutrition and mindset changes required to take them to a healthier lifestyle.
Cabbage has an enough amount of the Vitamin C that plays a significant role in helping the fat person to lose weight. It is the Vitamin C contents the help in proper digestion of the fats and carbohydrates in the body that enter the body through the diet and it also throws out of the body the unnecessary fats and carbohydrates. The weight gain process is being controlled by it at the initial stage and at the next stage the weight loss process takes place. It is the slow method of weight loss, but is effect yielding.
Cabbage is the leafy green vegetable that induces the weight loss process in fat people. It is the natural solution for the obesity problem. Botanically it is termed as Brassica oleracea that is used as a staple diet in many parts of the world. It is a vegetable that is crowded by the mass of leaves covering the inner section.
China is the country where cabbage is included in every diet they eat. I think the old Chinese people might know to its usage and thus has introduced it in their daily diet. China has the very less rate of the fat people and cabbage including diet has been the main reason for it. It is their habit to eat cabbage daily has helped them to stay away from the problem of the excessive weight gain. This health benefit of Cabbage made the scientist from west to study it effects of weight loss.
If you really want to lose weight, then eat cabbage. Attaining the weight loss process with the help of natural products is the need of time. The usage of Cabbage shows the slow effect, but resolves the fatness problem permanently. It inhibits the weight gain mechanism of the body and start reducing the fats and carbohydrates stored in the body. Visible weight loss effects can be obtained by eating Cabbage regularly. It may take 2 to 3 months to show you the initial effect, but whatever result you attain would be permanent and without any harm to your health.
A study was conducted to understand the weight loss effects of cabbage. About 100 fat individuals were included in this study. They were asked to eat the cabbage including diet daily once in a day for about a 2 months. After this duration their weight was checked. It was noted that these people showed about 3 kilograms decrease in the weight. The results clearly mentioned that cabbage has the substantial weight loss capabilities. The air of confusion was clear and a new way to lose weight in a natural way was found.
Cabbage is the food that is rich in fiber and less in fats and carbohydrates. You can call it as an anti-fat food. It reduces the deposition of the fats in the body. It is rich in the riboflavin that induces the weight loss process. This compound digests the fatty foods easily and throws them out of the body. It culminates the habit of the body to gain weight.
You can include the Cabbage in your diet either in the form of juice, raw, or in a curry. The best form recommended for the weigh loss is Cabbage juice. You need to drink its juice daily in order to attain the better weight loss results. It can either be taken in the morning or even before the lunch. But, for the good results you need to have the regularity in the intake of the medicines otherwise you may fail to attain the weight loss results. So eat cabbage to lose weight in a natural way.
Fans claim you can drop 10 pounds or more in a week. Some people use it to kick-start their weight loss plan, or to trim a few pounds for a special event.
But before you stock up on cabbage, know that this crash diet won’t help you in the long run, and it doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
What You Can Eat
Just like the name says, the bulk of this diet is fat-free cabbage soup, eaten two to three times a day with other allowed foods assigned each day. Here’s what you can add:
- Day 1: Fruit, except bananas
- Day 2: Vegetables like leafy greens (not starchy), but no fruit
- Day 3: Fruits and vegetables
- Day 4: Bananas and skim milk
- Day 5: Beef (or baked chicken without the skin) and tomatoes
- Day 6: Beef and vegetables
- Day 7: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices, and vegetables
There are different recipes for the soup, which is recommended every day of the diet. They all have similar ingredients, such as tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and bouillon.
Level of Effort: Medium
Limitations: Your menu options are severely limited on this diet. It gets very boring, very quickly. If you want to try it again, it’s recommended that you wait 2 weeks first.
Cooking and shopping: Get out your soup pot. You will need to make the cabbage soup and cook some of the vegetables recommended in the plan. Your shopping list will be very short for the week.
Packaged foods or meals? No.
In-person meetings? No.
Exercise: The cabbage soup diet doesn’t include exercise, and working out at high levels isn’t a great idea on such a low-calorie diet. Your body just won’t have enough gas in the tank for exercise.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
There’s not a lot of room to tweak the diet, since it’s so rigid.
It is low in fat, because you eat mostly vegetables. But it’s not vegetarian or vegan, since some meat is allowed.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: The only cost is for the ingredients, which you buy yourself. Some websites promoting the diet say you should take a supplement to make up for the nutrients you’ll be missing from food.
Support: None. You do this diet on your own.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Does It Work?
You’ll lose weight, but only in the short run. This is strictly a lose-weight quick scheme.
You’ll likely get less than 1,000 calories a day on the limited menu. That’s far fewer than the 2,000 daily calories recommended for most adults.
Since you’re getting so few calories, the pounds come off quickly, but mostly you’ll lose water weight. And chances are, you’ll gain it all back as soon as you start eating a normal diet again.
Health experts don’t recommend following very low-calorie diets unless you’re under a doctor’s care. A better bet is to aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week on a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
Because it includes so few carbs, this diet could wreak havoc with any diabetes treatment plan.
Salt is not addressed on the plan, so if you’ve been told to cut back on the sodium, you’ll have to hold back on using the salt shaker and bouillon when making the soup or cooking your food.
Since you’ll likely regain any weight that you lose, the diet won’t have a lasting positive impact on heart disease, cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
The Final Word
Though this diet is fast, cheap, and simple, it’s not easy to stick with. It will likely leave you feeling hungry, weak, and bored. You might even feel sick. And if you follow the Cabbage Soup Diet for more than a week, you could run short on key nutrients.
Nor does the diet encourage the necessary lifestyle changes you need to make in order to be healthier and have lasting weight loss.
The drastic weight loss you might experience with The Cabbage Soup Diet can cause health problems and can be dangerous even when it’s done under a doctor’s supervision.
Never start this diet without talking to your doctor first. If they think you need a very low-calorie diet, they’ll likely show you a much healthier way to go about it.
News release, University of Florida.
Cabbage Soup Diet: “7 Day Plan.”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI): “Aim for a Healthy Weight.”
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): “Very Low-calorie Diets.”
Columbia University: “Reduced fat and calorie diets: How low is too low?”
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At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
The information contained on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional health care provider. Please check with the appropriate physician regarding health questions and concerns. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.
- Diet Nutrition
- Suggested Eating Plan
After following a diet that consists of little more than homemade cabbage soup for a full week, you may feel exhausted, grumpy and ravenous. Since you’ve been neglecting your recommended daily intake of several essential nutrients while on the cabbage soup diet, a smart first priority is to ease back into a balanced, complete eating plan.
The cabbage soup diet does not provide balanced nutrition. Although MayoClinic.com recommends that you get about 55 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat and 20 percent from protein, cabbage soup provides very little fat or protein and is short on the vitamins and minerals that you’d get from whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Thus, it’s important to get enough of those nutrients in the period immediately following the diet.
7-Day Menu for Diabetics
The cabbage soup diet “should be followed by at least two weeks of a normal, balanced diet to ensure proper nutrition,” states Katherine Zeratsky, registered dietitian and nutritionist for MayoClinic.com 1. That means daily servings of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and whole grains. At each meal, ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends achieving balance by making at least half of your foods fruits or vegetables, a quarter of your plate protein-rich foods and a quarter of your plate a grain, preferably a whole grain.
Suggested Eating Plan
On the morning after you end the cabbage soup diet, try a breakfast of whole-wheat toast and an egg-white omelet made with three egg whites, some fresh spinach and about a tablespoon of grated cheese. For lunch, have a whole-grain wrap with lean turkey or tofu and mustard, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve your wrap with coleslaw or a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit. At dinner, make a whole-wheat pizza crust and top it with a small amount of part-skim mozzarella, low-sodium tomato sauce, lean ground turkey and a variety of healthy veggies.
Maybe you’re curious about the Cabbage Soup Diet because you have memories of your mother living on a giant pot of vegetable soup the week before her high school reunion — and then looking like a million bucks in a dress a full size smaller than the other items in her closet. Or perhaps you love anything vintage and just want to know more about this one-week, quick-weight loss plan that grew popular in the 1980s and went by several different names, according to The Washington Post.
The OG version of seven-day Cabbage Soup Diet — there have been various spins on it — is unlimited cabbage soup with a non-cabbage soup food each day. The first three days, that food is a vegetable or fruit, and over the last four days, you get to introduce skim milk (once), a meat, and finally on the last day, you live it up with some brown rice and fruit juice (per WebMD).
This menu may sound . tedious? Grueling? Still, dieters who are desperate will give it a go. “My husband’s work do was coming up, and I wanted to fit back into a slinky black dress I’d had for years. I put off dieting until I only had a couple of weeks to go then suddenly panicked! The cabbage soup diet seemed a good way of losing weight fast,” Caitlin Fitzgerald, a 54-year-old, told Good To Know. She reported losing four pounds.
The Cabbage Soup Diet isn’t a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight
Health experts don’t think much of the Cabbage Soup Diet. The diet has been panned for its lack of protein and healthy fats, as well as the concern that losing weight so dramatically could slow your metabolism (via Everyday Health.)
“Weight loss is temporary and most people will regain any lost weight quickly,” personal trainer and fitness coach Scott Laidler told Marie Claire. “Because the Cabbage Soup Diet has such a low calorie intake and virtually no protein, almost all weight lost on this diet will be water and muscle, not body fat. This is a real shame because gaining all that weight back can be crushing psychologically, which can lead to comfort eating and loss of motivation to exercise which in turn leads to more weight gain.”
While the Cabbage Soup Diet may continue to be the go-to option for some dieters who are willing to live on vegetable broth and a little brown rice for a week just to fit into a certain outfit, others regret that they gave up a week of their lives for this plan. “I did that diet back in the late 90s. Your house will stink, you [will] have the worst gas and you will not lose that much weight,” commented a bride on Wedding Wire. “It’s really not worth it — you’re better off just eating clean, drinking lots of water, and exercising.”
When winter winds to an end, there are plenty of things to look forward to — warm weather, blooming flowers, cookouts and the beach. But, for many people, that last item comes with a bit of hesitation. Before you strip down to that bikini, that winter weight has got to go. So when spring and summer are just around the corner, many are looking for a quick fix.
That’s why the cabbage soup diet has withstood the test of time, outlasting its “fad diet” reputation. The diet lasts one week and is said to result in weight loss of about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) [source: Zelman]. In a short span of time, double-digit losses are possible. Some people, maybe because they became discouraged and unmotivated by the slower results of other diets, swear by the quick cabbage soup diet. After all, participants cut their caloric intake by at least 50 percent, taking in roughly 800 to 1,000 calories a day [source: Zelman]. The diet isn’t by any means appropriate for a lifestyle, but it does help incorporate vegetable and fruits into an individual’s meal plans.
Of course, the cabbage soup diet has its drawbacks. First off, it’s a bit bland and boring, which makes cravings tough to ignore. It also cuts out a good amount of nutrients along with those calories. The extremely restrictive nature of the diet makes entire food groups off-limits on certain days. And while it does produce quick weight loss, much of this is water loss, not the more beneficial loss of fat. This means dieters will likely gain back a lot of the weight after they return to their normal eating routines.
So, the diet has its pros and cons, but you get to lose weight while keeping warm those last weeks of winter, right? Continue reading to learn more about the cabbage soup diet and its possible side effects.
Cabbage Soup Diet Plan
Unlike many diet plans, which usually require lots of exercise and expect a long-term commitment to achieve results, the cabbage soup diet is short. Designed to last one week, it isn’t intended to be a lifestyle change. It isn’t high enough in nutrients or calories to sustain healthy body functions for longer than the designated timeframe. After completing the week, you should spend some time back on a normal diet before contemplating a return to the cabbage soup regimen.
No one person or institute claims credit for creating the cabbage soup diet, so there’s no specific standard for dieters to follow. Through the years, multiple variations of the diet have surfaced. Although they differ a bit from one another, they’re all quite similar.
For each of the seven days, you should eat at least two bowls of cabbage soup. And there are specific foods that you can eat almost without limit each day, though you’re encouraged to try to quiet your hunger by eating the low-calorie soup whenever possible. Foods like bread, alcohol and soda are forbidden, although you drink as much water as you like. Here’s the basic schedule:
- Day One: you can eat all the soup you want, as well as any fruit (except bananas).
- Day Two: soup, low-calorie vegetables and one baked potato with butter
- Day Three: soup, fruits and vegetables
- Day Four: soup, six to eight bananas and all-you-can-drink skim milk
- Day Five: soup, six tomatoes and 15 to 20 ounces of beef, fish or chicken. Make sure to take in at least six glasses on water this day — if not more.
- Day Six: soup, beef and vegetables
- Day Seven: soup, brown rice, vegetables and fruit juice [source: Every Diet, Zelman]
Remember, after seven days, it’s important to return to your normal diet.
So what might happen to you if you do decide to try the cabbage soup diet? Check out the next page to find out.
Is your idea of cabbage soup just some warm water and cabbage? There are several cabbage soup recipes on the Web that fit the diet plan. One of the many varieties includes green onions, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, celery, cabbage (of course) and the optional addition of bouillon cubes or V8 juice [source: About Cabbage Soup Diet].