The cabbage soup diet is an eating plan designed to help with quick weight loss. The promise? Eat lots of cabbage soup for seven days and drop 10 to 15 pounds (lbs). (1)
While touted as a way to lose extra pounds in a short amount of time, the cabbage soup diet is a type of fad diet. Many diets that promise fast results, including fad diets, simply don’t work as well as other proven long-term weight loss methods, such as those outlined by the Mayo Clinic, like the Mediterranean or DASH eating plans. (2) 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 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 cause uncomfortable side effects that may interfere with your daily activities.
Sample Cabbage Soup Diet Recipe
Here’s a sample Cabbage Soup Diet recipe you can try as part of this seven-day eating plan: (5)
½ head of large cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 scallions, diced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1–2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (preferably low sodium)
1 bunch celery, chopped
1 package dry onion soup
salt and pepper, to taste
Dried herbs or spices of your choosing to taste (such as garlic powder, paprika, or parsley)
6 cups of water or 1 48-oz can vegetable juice
1–2 bouillon cubes (optional)
Add all the ingredients to a large pot. Cover with up to 6 cups of water and simmer on low for one hour or until all the vegetables are tender (you can also cook the soup in a slow cooker for five hours)
Cabbage Soup Diet Plan: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid
The foods and drinks you can consume on the cabbage soup diet include:
Cabbage throughout all seven days (and lots of it!)
Other raw or cooked vegetables throughout all seven days (except for potatoes)
Apples (on day 3 only)
Berries (on day 3 only)
Brown rice (on day 7 only)
Beef (on day 6 only)
Sugar-free juice (on day 7 only)
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:
Cabbage Soup Diet Rules: A Day-by-Day Meal Plan to Follow
The meal plan for the cabbage soup diet is followed for seven days in this order: (3)
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 raw fruits and vegetables
Day 4 Along with the cabbage soup, you can also have a maximum of 8 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 of protein, which is roughly 100 g more protein than most people need!”
Day 6 Unlimited beef and vegetables along with the cabbage soup (except for potatoes)
Day 7 In addition to the cabbage soup, you can have brown rice and unsweetened fruit juice.