The cabbage soup diet is an ultra-restrictive seven-day diet that has been around for ages. The actual origin of the diet is unknown but some guess it dates to the 1950s. Over the years, the diet has undergone many name changes, such as the Dolly Parton Diet in the 1980s, but it has always kept homemade cabbage soup as its mainstay.
Does the cabbage soup diet really work for weight loss? How much weight can you lose in one week? What foods can you eat? Are there risks? Read on to find out.
Does the Cabbage Soup Diet Work for Losing Weight?
Even though the diet plan is only for one week, almost anyone who tries it will lose some weight. The reason is simple: You will be basically starving yourself. The calories for the diet are close to 1,000 per day, which is way below what is recommended for an average person to consume daily, even when attempting weight loss.
Some individuals have claimed upwards of a 10-pound weight loss for the week, though much of the weight loss is from water weight. And any weight loss achieved will most likely be regained once the week is over and any type of normal eating is resumed.
If you’re a fan of cabbage soup, there’s no reason not to include it as part of a weight loss program. In general, eating more soup as part of a balanced diet may be beneficial for weight loss due to its high fiber and nutrient density, while also being lower in calories.
[See: Best Soups for Weight Loss.]
Sample Cabbage Soup Diet Recipe and Variations
There are many variations of cabbage soups available today. And the soup is sometimes also called wonder soup, weight loss soup, miracle soup and weight watcher soup.
The closest recipe to the original version basically consists of only cabbage, onions, tomatoes or tomato juice, celery and carrots.
Here is one easy-to-make recipe for cabbage soup:
Yields eight servings. Recipe courtesy of Dinnerthendessert.com.
— 8 cups vegetable broth.
— 1 yellow onion, chopped.
— 3 cloves garlic, minced.
— 4 cups cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks.
— 3 carrots, sliced.
— 3 stalks of celery, sliced.
— 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt.
— 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper.
— 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.
— 1/2 teaspoon dried basil.
— 28 ounces diced tomatoes, do not drain.
Add the vegetable broth, onion, garlic, cabbage, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and diced tomatoes, then stir well.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes until cabbage and carrots are tender.
You can vary the cabbage soup recipe by using chicken broth, bone broth or water instead of vegetable broth. While white cabbage is typically used, you can also use red cabbage. You can also add bell peppers, spinach, zucchini or any other non-starchy vegetable (no potatoes). If you’re watching your sodium, choose low-sodium broth and low-sodium canned tomatoes.
Cabbage Soup Diet Plan
This diet basically works as you would expect given its name; in other words, you eat a lot of cabbage soup, as much as you want at mealtime. Throughout the seven-day plan, you also are allowed to include one to two other low-calorie foods daily.
— Other raw or cooked non-starchy vegetables.
— Fruit, except bananas only on day 4.
— Brown rice only on day 7.
— Beef, chicken or fish only on days 5 and 6.
— Sugar-free juice on only day 7.
— Non-fat milk only on day 4.
— Zero-calorie beverages like water, unsweetened tea or black coffee.
Over the years there have been several modifications. For example: A potato can be eaten with butter or oil on day 2, and the number of bananas allowed went from six to eight on day 4.
All other foods are not allowed.
Suggested Cabbage Soup Diet 7-Day Meal Plan
The meal plan for the cabbage soup diet is followed for seven days:
— Day 1: Cabbage soup, plus any fruit except bananas.
— Day 2: Cabbage soup, plus any other non-starchy vegetable (cooked or raw).
— Day 3: Cabbage soup, plus fruit and other non-starchy vegetables.
— Day 4: Cabbage soup, plus up to eight bananas and non-fat skim milk.
— Day 5: Cabbage soup, plus up to 20 ounces of beef (or chicken or fish) and a can of tomatoes (or up to six whole tomatoes).
— Day 6: Cabbage soup, plus unlimited beef (or chicken or fish) and non-starchy vegetables.
— Day 7: Cabbage soup, plus brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice and non-starchy vegetables.
Potential Benefits of the Cabbage Soup Diet
The diet promotes consuming fruits and vegetables daily, which have long been associated with positive health benefits, such as decreased cancer risk, heart disease and stroke. Specifically, cabbage is a good source of antioxidant-rich vitamins E and C, which have anti-inflammatory properties and maintain immune health.
With almost three grams of fiber per cup, cabbage may also help lower cholesterol levels, prevent constipation and promote satiety.
Overall, this seven-day fad diet is low in fat and high in fiber — both good things. But let’s be honest, I’m not sure how much of a long-term benefit anyone will see from only seven days of an increased intake of fruits and veggies.
Potential Risks of the Cabbage Soup Diet
The purpose of the cabbage soup diet is to restrict calories by restricting your food intake severely. Because this diet is highly restrictive, a dieter may suffer from weakness, fatigue, dizziness, irritability and headaches. Some individuals, especially those not used to a high fiber intake, may experience bloating and gas. Because it promotes rapid weight loss and limits protein, muscle loss may occur.
If a person continues this diet longer than the recommended seven days, it may lead to malnutrition due to limited calories, protein, fat and other critical micronutrients for optimal health.
Bottom Line: Should You Try the Cabbage Soup Diet?
No. The cabbage soup diet is nothing more than an extreme weight loss plan, built around deprivation. That doesn’t set anyone up for success in the long run. Any weight loss will most likely return, and then some, and the dieter has learned absolutely nothing about healthy eating. For a healthier and more sustainable approach to eating, consider an eating plan like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet, which are focused on nutritious whole foods.
I would like to say I hope this diet disappears, but given its history I doubt it. I can only hope that as a society we get smarter.
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Cabbage Soup Diet: Recipe and 7-Day Plan for Weight Loss originally appeared on usnews.com