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The Cabbage Soup Diet

What is it?

The Cabbage Soup Diet is just that: eating a very limited diet primarily made up of cabbage soup for a week, in order to achieve a quick weight loss. There are no overarching dietary philosophies and no exercise guidelines to this diet; it is simply a day-by-day list of what to eat. There are a number of variations of the Cabbage Soup Diet, differing mainly in what should accompany cabbage soup on any given day. The main website includes a recipe for cabbage soup. Versions of the diet can be found in books and online. Typically, it looks something like this:

  • Day 1: Cabbage soup, plus as much fruit as you want with the exception of bananas.
  • Day 2: Cabbage soup, plus all the vegetables you want, raw or cooked. You can have one potato with a little butter.
  • Day 3: Cabbage soup, plus as much fruits and vegetables as you want, but no potatoes or bananas.
  • Day 4: Cabbage soup, plus up to eight bananas and as much skim milk as you want
  • Day 5: Cabbage soup, plus up to 20 ounces of beef, skinless chicken, and/or fish. You can also eat six tomatoes.
  • Day 6: Cabbage soup, plus as much beef, skinless chicken, and/or fish and vegetables as you want.
  • Day 7: Cabbage soup plus brown rice, vegetables, and unsweetened fruit juice. No potatoes allowed.

The foods on the list may be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or for a snack. You are also encouraged to drink four to eight glasses of water and take a multivitamin tablet every day while you're on the diet.

The Promise

The Cabbage Soup Diet promises rapid weight loss—about 10 pounds in the week you are on the diet. The diet makes no claims to change lifestyle or encourage weight maintenance or healthy habits. It is promoted as a "vanity diet"—a quick way to lose a few extra pounds to look good for a special occasion. That is the only promise of the Cabbage Soup Diet—rapid, short-term weight loss due to severe caloric restrictions.

Pros & Cons

There is very little that is good about this diet, except for the fact that you will be eating quite a few vegetables in the cabbage soup along with fruit each day. You will lose weight, but in an unhealthy and possibly dangerous way. No health expert has backed the Cabbage Soup Diet, and no one has taken responsibility for creating it. It is far from being balanced nutritionally and verges on the edge of being a weeklong starvation period. There is no exercise component and no long-term prospects. In fact, you're likely to gain back any weight you lose with the Cabbage Soup Diet almost immediately after going off of it.

Healthline Says

When researching this diet, we had to look no farther than an actual Cabbage Soup Diet website to find a reason to pass on this one. This was posted on the site: "Some people have reported feeling light-headed, weak, and have suffered from decreased concentration." We appreciate the honesty, but this diet is potentially dangerous due to the severe dietary restrictions imposed. It is more like a modified fast than an actual diet, and the reduced calories, protein, and fat will not be tolerated by all who attempt this. Children, adults with any health complications, and anyone with special dietary needs should not start the Cabbage Soup Diet. No one should follow the diet for more than seven days, and if you are considering, we definitely encourage you to talk to your doctor before you start.

While you will lose weight on this diet, it is likely you will gain it back for a number of reasons. First of all, you are not going to cut that much fat off your body — the weight you lose will be mostly water weight and muscle mass. You're essentially throwing your body into starvation mode, which causes your body to slow metabolism and store body fat, so when you start eating again, you'll gain back the weight faster than you lost it. The Cabbage Soup Diet makes no effort whatsoever to address the lifestyle changes that may be necessary to maintain weight loss over the long term.

It's also important to remember that there's nothing special about cabbage in particular, and there's no such thing as a "negative calorie" or "fat burning" food. Cabbage is just an example of a very low-calorie food. Also, eating a lot of cabbage may make some people prone to excess abdominal gas.


Content licensed from:

Written by: JC Jones and Elijah Wolfson
Published on: Dec 21, 2010on: Mar 21, 2016

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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