Cabbage Soup Diet Facts

How to Lose 15-20 Pounds by Eating Soup

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The Cabbage Soup Diet - Myths and Facts

A running myth about the cabbage soup diet suggests that it originated at a number of hospitals, but thus far, there are no medical facilities have claimed it as their own.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

The cabbage soup diet is based on a fat-burning, weight reducing soup that contains negligible calories. Supposedly, the more soup you eat the more weight you should lose. It allows people to eat as much cabbage soup as they want each day, which should sound appealing to dieters since dieters love to hear that they can eat unlimited amounts of food and still lose weight.

The cabbage soup diet relies on eating strange and bizarre combinations of food each day. Dieters are allowed all the water and cabbage soup they want, plus a very restricted set of other foods.

A running myth about the cabbage soup diet suggests that it originated at a number of hospitals, but thus far, there are no medical facilities have claimed it as their own.

The consensus is that the diet is effective for temporarily losing a few pounds. However, this is not a very nutritionally sound plan and certainly not one to live on.

If you try the cabbage soup diet, understand that you should only go on it for a week. Any longer and you will be depriving your body of vital nutrients, since cabbage is not exactly the most nutrient-rich vegetable. You should only look at it as a way to drop a few additional pounds for a special event.

While you’re on the cabbage soup diet, be sure to take a quality multivitamin. Like I said, the cabbage soup diet will deprive your body of the nutrients it needs to survive. Taking a multivitamin will ensure you keep your body balanced.

Here’s a breakdown of how the seven day cabbage soup diet works:

Day One of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

-Eat fruit, all the fruit you want except bananas.

-Drink unsweetened tea, black coffee, cranberry juice, and/or water. Put an emphasis on water, drinking at least eight glasses.

-Eat as much cabbage soup as you like.

Day Two of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Eat all the vegetables you want. Fresh, raw, or cooked vegetables of your liking are acceptable. But stay away from dry beans, peas, and sweet corn. Then eat a baked potato with butter for dinner. Eat as much soup as you like but no fruit on day two.

Day Three of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Combine days one and two, eat as much fruit, vegetables, and soup, as you

Day Four of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Eat as many as eight bananas and drink plenty of skim milk, along with eating your soup. This day is supposed to lessen your desire for sweets.

Day Five of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

You may have ten to twenty ounces of beef and up to six fresh tomatoes. Drink at least eight glasses of water this day. Eat your soup at least once this day. You may eat broiled or baked chicken (skinless) instead of beef. If you prefer, you can substitute broiled fish for the beef.

Day Six of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Eat beef and vegetables. You can even have up to three steaks if you like, with fresh vegetables or salad. But no baked potato. Eat your soup at least once.

Day Seven of the Cabbage Soup Diet:

Eat as much brown rice and vegetables as you like. Be sure to eat your soup at least once. No bread, alcohol, or carbonated beverages, not even diet soda.

Cabbage Soup Diet

Cabbage Soup Diet for Weight Loss

The cabbage soup diet has been a dieting mainstay for decades and is still wildly popular. Many claim that the diet can easily result in 10-15 lbs. (4.5-6.8 kg) of weight loss in a single week. However, the effectiveness of the diet is far from agreed upon, and the cabbage soup diet is oftentimes marred in controversy.

What is The Cabbage Soup Diet?

The cabbage soup diet is a temporary diet, usually followed for 7 days. While following the diet, you strictly limit your intake to cabbage soup, calorie-free beverages, and certain other low calorie foods.

Advantages of The Cabbage Soup Diet

Rapid Weight Loss: If you’re looking to lose weight and lose it fast, the cabbage soup diet is for you. Individual results vary, but most people tend to lose about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) over the course of 1 week, which is about 3-5 times more weight than could be achieved from most other diets in the same period of time.

Simple: Because much of the diet is “ad-lib”, meaning you can eat as much as you want of certain foods, there’s no measuring, weighing, or reading food labels.

Temporary: Unlike most diets, which require a long-term commitment, the cabbage soup diet is only 7-days long. This allows you to go back to your lifestyle after the week is over.

Veggies: The high amounts of colorful vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes provide your body with your body with plenty of healthy antioxidants and fiber during the diet.

Disadvantages of The Cabbage Soup Diet

Water Weight: When it comes to overall health, most scientists now feel that body composition, the ratio of fat to muscle, is more important than total weight. Doctors and nutritionists feel that much of the weight loss that occurs while following the cabbage soup diet is mostly made up of water and muscle, not body fat.

Weight Rebound: If you go right back to your old eating habits after the diet is over, the weight is sure to come back on eventually. In fact, many studies have found that when weight is lost quickly, it’s oftentimes put back on in the form of extra fat. 1

Boring: Many find that the monotony of eating cabbage soup everyday makes them enjoy their food less than they did before.

How Does It Work?

Believe it or not, but there’s nothing special about cabbage that helps people lose weight. Experts are still unsure why exactly the cabbage soup diet is effective, but here are some of the most agreed upon mechanisms:

  • Low-Calorie: As you can imagine, cabbage soup is very low in calories. Because cabbage soup will be the cornerstone of your diet, it’s likely that your caloric intake will range from 800-1,200 calories per day. This caloric deficit is so great that it accelerates weight loss, thus resulting in such a rapid drop in pounds.
  • Fiber and Fullness: Research shows that fiber helps curb appetite and keep people feeling more full and satisfied after meals. Cabbage soup is packed with high-fiber vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, putting a stop to high calorie cravings. 2
  • Cooking: A study out of Pennsylvania State University showed that dining out frequently was strongly correlated with weight gain. Because the meals in the cabbage soup diet plan can’t be found in restaurants, it forces you to cook at home, which is a good thing. 3

Cabbage Soup Diet – Guidelines

Important Guidelines for Cabbage Soup Diet Success:

  • Be Prepared: Before the diet starts, make sure your kitchen is stocked with the ingredients you’ll need -not as you go. This will makes following the diet hassle-free.
  • 7-Day Limit: Because the diet is so extreme, it’s not recommended to follow the diet for more than 7-days at a time. Any longer than that and you could be setting yourself up for nutrient deficiencies.
  • Don’t Cheat: It’s important to strictly follow the diet for the full 7-day period. A single high-calorie meal can derail results.
  • Watch What You Drink: Although the focus of the diet is on food, what you drink will also make or break your efforts. Be sure to avoid all sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice and drink plenty of water, tea, and diet drinks.

Example 7-day Cabbage Soup Plan

Although the exact diet varies, here is a typical 7-day cabbage soup diet meal plan:

Day 1: Cabbage soup and any fruit (except for bananas). Consume plenty of calorie-free fluids like tea and coffee (unsweetened).

Day 2: Cabbage soup, and ad-libitum non-starchy vegetables. A baked potato is allowed at one meal.

Day 3: Cabbage soup, fruit, and non-starchy vegetables.

Day 4: Cabbage soup, 2 glasses of skim or soy milk, and fruit (including bananas).

Day 5: Cabbage soup, 15 ounces of lean meat like chicken, lean pork, or fish and any non-starchy vegetable.

Day 7: Cabbage soup, up to 2 cups of rice, and unlimited fruits (except bananas) and vegetables.

Cabbage Soup Recipe

Here is a typical Cabbage Soup Recipe:

  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 1 container fresh mushrooms
  • 5 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cans of diced tomato tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 package soup mix
  • 1 or 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon

Seasonings: salt, garlic powder, curry, Mrs. Dash, pepper, basil, paprika

After the Cabbage Soup Diet

Believe it or not, but what you do after the diet is just as important as the diet itself.

  • Ease Back: After the diet is over, it’s not a good idea to visit the local buffet and gorge on everything in sight. Instead, ease back into your normal routine to prevent the weight from flying back on. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle to limit the amount of rebound weight gain.
  • Prepare for Rebound: A bit of weight regain after you return to your normal eating habits is expected. Knowing this will help you set realistic expectations for the period following the cabbage soup diet.
  • Cycle: It’s wise to give your body a “rest” for at least 2 months before going for another round on the cabbage soup diet.

1. Brownell K.D., Greenwood M.R.C., Stellar E., Shrager E.E. The effects of repeated cycles of weight loss and regain in rats (1986) Physiology and Behavior, 38 (4), pp. 459-464.

2. Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May; 59(5):129-39.

3. McCrory, M. A., Fuss, P. J., Hays, N. P., Vinken, A. G., Greenberg, A. S., Roberts, SB. (1999) Overeating in America: association between restaurant food consumption and body fatness in healthy adult men and women ages 19-80. Obes Res. 7: 564-571

A Detailed Guide to the Cabbage Soup Diet: Can the Plan Help You Lose 10 Pounds in 7 Days?

Before you try this fad diet, learn what it involves — plus, what experts have to say about whether the approach is safe and effective for fast weight loss.

By Kristeen Cherney

Medically Reviewed by Lynn Grieger, RDN

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The cabbage soup diet is an eating plan that is designed to help with quick weight loss. The promise? Eat lots of cabbage soup for seven days and drop 10 pounds.

While touted as a way to lose extra pounds in a short amount of time, the Mayo Clinic considers the cabbage soup diet as a type of fad diet that simply doesn’t work as well as other proven long-term weight loss methods. Not to mention, the numerous restrictions set forth by the diet could make you lose out on vital nutrients and disrupt your metabolism.

Still, the prospect of eating a lot of cabbage soup for a short period of time still appeals to people who want a quick fix. “This diet ‘works’ merely because it's super restrictive in calories,” says Julie Rothenberg, RD, LDN, owner of JuliENERGYnutrition in Miami. “It markets itself to people who want to lose weight for a special occasion or event coming up.”

While some people do successfully meet such short-term goals, the weight often comes back once you stop doing the diet — much to the same effect as other types of popular diets.

Aside from more weight gain, this fad diet can also cause other uncomfortable side effects that may interfere with your daily activities.

What Is the Cabbage Soup Diet Exactly, and How Does the Plan Work?

“The cabbage soup diet is a seven-day diet [that] is low in fat and high in fiber,” says Rothenberg, explaining that the approach calls for followers to eat cabbage soup several times per day for one week.

According to the Mayo Clinic, fad diets like the cabbage soup diet don’t include exercise as part of their plans. Regular physical activity is essential to help you maintain a low weight. Plus, exercise is good for your heart and brain, decreasing your risk for chronic illnesses.

The purpose of the cabbage soup diet is to restrict calories by restricting your food intake severely. “The low-calorie diet combined with the high fiber content of the filling vegetables, fruit, and cabbage help a person to go to the bathroom more than usual,” Rothenberg says. “At the end of the week, there is weight loss from water weight primarily, and largely due to calorie restriction.”

According to a review published in September 2017 in the journal Functional Foods in Health and Disease, you only eat 1,000 calories or less during the first few days of the cabbage soup diet. Throughout the rest of the week, you gradually increase your calorie intake to about 1,200 calories per day. Given the limited calories you’re consuming during the plan, you could technically lose 4 pounds (lbs) or more on the diet. But this is far more than the recommended 1- or 2-lb loss per week when on a safer, more gradual weight-loss plan.

Proponents of the cabbage soup diet claim it’s designed for short-term use only and may help you transition into a longer-term diet.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Try the Cabbage Soup Diet for Weight Loss?

The cabbage soup diet is intended for people looking for a short-term solution to excess weight — in this case, the diet lasts for only one week. It’s not intended for use any longer than that.

But you can still incorporate some of the recipes you like as part of a moderate, balanced diet after the week is up. The diet is also relatively inexpensive because it incorporates everyday food items — particularly lots of cabbage.

This diet also seems to work best for people who like foods that are on the restricted list of items you can eat. In fact, one of the reasons why people quit this diet is they can’t stand the taste of the soup. You may not like the diet if you need someone to help you stay accountable.

Also, this plan doesn’t seem to work well for people who need to lose significant amounts of weight. This type of diet also isn’t intended for people with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, who have particular dietary needs that may be harmed with the restricted caloric intake and food limitations.

Cabbage Soup Diet Plan: What You Can and Cannot Eat

The items you can eat on the cabbage soup diet include:

  • Cabbage (and lots of it!)
  • Other vegetables
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Brown rice
  • Beef
  • Sugar-free juice
  • Skim milk (on day 4 only)

Still, you can only eat the above items on certain days (see the sample meal plan below). Restricted items include:

  • Bananas (except on day 4)
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Whole- or reduced-fat dairy products

Anything not listed in the diet plan is off limits in the cabbage soup diet.

Potential Risks and Benefits of Following the Cabbage Soup Diet

Like all fad diets, the cabbage soup diet poses a range of risks and few long-term benefits. Short-term risks include:

  • Hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Flatulence
  • Irritability
  • Loss of concentration
  • Too much sodium from the soup
  • Muscle loss

An important consideration is the lack of healthy fats in this diet. While you may be looking to get rid of body fat, dietary forms of fat are important in satiety. Healthy fats, such as those found in fish, nuts, and low-fat dairy products, also contain important nutrients. “Essentially there is very little fat included in this diet because the only fat source comes from the beef, or milk if choosing whole milk,” says Rothenberg.

Perhaps one of the most concerning risks associated with fad diets like the cabbage soup diet is the havoc they can wreak on your metabolism, making you gain more weight after you’ve quit the diet. “I have had a client come to me and say they did the cabbage soup diet prior and it did ‘work’ in the short term, but she ended up gaining the weight back with an additional 5 lbs the following week,” Rothenberg recalls.

Although there is no scientific evidence that suggests the cabbage soup diet is safe and effective for weight loss, eating cabbage soup alone as part of a balanced diet may be beneficial.

For example, a preliminary study on the effects of red cabbage consumption in obese mice found decreased cholesterol over the course of eight weeks. The study was published in December 2016 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, though it’s unclear whether the same results would be found in humans and in a randomized controlled clinical trial — the gold standard for medical research.

Aside from fiber, cabbage furthermore has other nutrients that may play a crucial role in weight loss and weight management efforts. According to the September 2017 review in Functional Foods in Health and Disease, certain ingredients in cabbage are anti-inflammatory, and may help regulate your metabolism and blood sugar levels.

This review suggests the potential beneficial anti-inflammatory components in cabbage include:

  • Apigenin
  • Lutein
  • Kaempferol
  • Quercetin
  • Vitamin C
  • Zeaxanthin

A ½ cup serving of cooked cabbage also contains 1 gram (g) of protein and 1.4 g of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When consumed with other plant-based foods and lean proteins, cabbage soup can complement your diet. But eating cabbage soup as part of a restrictive diet may cause more problems for your weight than good.

Another study published in April 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that adults who ate soup regularly for five years had healthier weights and overall nutritionally balanced diets. Still, it’s important to note here that the study looked at soups overall, and not just cabbage soup. Study subjects also didn’t face any dietary restrictions as are seen in the cabbage soup diet. It’s also important to note that eating too much soup may negatively affect your blood sugar due to its typical high sodium content.

A Sample Cabbage Soup Diet Meal Plan to Follow

The meal plan for the cabbage soup diet is followed for seven days in this order:

  • Day 1: “Day 1 is just the soup and fruit only,” says Rothenberg. Bananas aren’t allowed on the first day.
  • Day 2: Cabbage soup and other vegetables (cooked or raw, except for potatoes)
  • Day 3: Cabbage soup plus fruits and vegetables (except for bananas and potatoes)
  • Day 4: Along with the cabbage soup, you can also have bananas and skim milk on this day only.
  • Day 5: Eat beef and tomatoes along with your cabbage soup. “You can eat 2 to 20 ounces (oz) of beef,” says Rothenberg. “Twenty oz of beef [contains] 160 g protein, which is roughly 100g more protein than most people need!”
  • Day 6: Unlimited beef and vegetables along with the cabbage soup
  • Day 7: In addition to the cabbage soup, you can have brown rice and unsweetened fruit juice.

Extra Precautions to Take if You Try Following the Cabbage Soup Diet

If you’re already at a healthy weight, do not have underlying health conditions that would make the plan unsafe, and want to lose a few extra pounds, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about whether the cabbage soup diet is right for you. Chances are they’ll recommend a longer term, safer eating plan that can help you lose a pound per week instead. Know that losing smaller amounts of weight at a time is better for you in the long run, as it’s more likely to stay off and not pose nutritional deficiencies during the plan period.

As Rothenberg points out, the effect of this diet won’t last, and in the end, the approach may do more harm than good for your waistline. “This doesn't ‘reset’ your metabolism — it messes with it,” she explains, noting that yo-yo dieting tends to lead to more abdominal fat that ends up being increasingly difficult to trim.

While the cabbage soup diet is, in theory, easy to follow, the problem is the diet isn’t sustainable. Healthy, gradual weight loss is much more beneficial, safer, and easier to follow in the long haul.

5:24 pm Updated by

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