The cabbage soup diet plan is a short-term diet that is intended to promote a burst of weight loss over a weeklong period—up to 10 pounds in some cases.
As the name implies, the diet is based entirely around cabbage soup and little else. This makes a cabbage diet ideal for anyone who has trouble figuring out what to eat or doesn’t like the hassle of having to prepare things fresh.
Not only is the cabbage soup cheap to make, it can be prepared in advance so all that’s needed is a zap in the microwave.
In terms of results, the cabbage soup diet is effectively able to reduce weight without needing exercise, but maintaining your improvements takes a bit more work. To learn more, including recipes for the cabbage soup diet, read on.
How the Cabbage Soup Diet Plan Works
As mentioned, the cabbage soup diet plan is based entirely around the titular dish. For seven days you eat cabbage soup and occasionally some other items such as fruits or dairy. Most of the time, however, you’re going to be eating the soup. The reason the cabbage soup diet results in weight loss is quite simple: it works out to under 1,000 calories a day.
The FDA’s recommendation is for 2,000 calories per day, with about 1,500 generally considered good for weight loss. The soup is also high in fiber due to the cabbage, so you’ll likely be unclogging your bowels if that has been an issue. The net result is that through a mix of lost water weight and low calories, the cabbage soup diet plan can result in some fast weight loss for anyone who is able to stick with it.
Why the Cabbage Soup Diet Plan Is Effective
As mentioned, the plan works well in the short term because of the low calorie content. It also helps that there is a large emphasis on vegetables, and cabbage is a good source of various nutrients. However, the nutritional value of the diet is such that this really is only something you should use for a week at most.
Following the cabbage soup diet for more than seven straight days can cause complications and make you susceptible to various nutrient deficiencies. It’s highly advisable to take a two-week break in between rounds of the diet.
Cabbage Soup Diet Plan: The Basics
The cabbage soup diet is very strict in what you can and can’t have during the week you are on it. Your food on any given day is going to consist of water, cabbage soup, possibly tea or black coffee, and one or two other things you are permitted based on which step of the plan you are on. Another thing to keep in mind is that the cabbage soup diet takes the “unlimited portions” approach to most of its steps.
This means that you can usually eat as much cabbage soup, fruit, or vegetables (day-dependent) as you like. This isn’t an excuse to overindulge, but it does mean you can let yourself eat steadily throughout the day to avoid hunger.
The Seven Day Cabbage Soup Diet Plan
Each day of the diet plan carries certain leniencies about which foods you can eat in addition to the soup.
Day One: Fruit
During the first day, you can eat the soup and fruit (except bananas) in unlimited portions. For optimal calorie reduction, you should only drink water but you can also drink unsweetened tea, cranberry juice, or black coffee.
Day Two: Vegetables
Instead of fruit, the second day allows unlimited vegetable servings alongside the cabbage soup. It’s strongly advised that you focus mostly on leafy greens and stay away from peas, corn, or beans. During dinner, the diet prescribes a baked potato that you can put butter on if you desire.
Day Three: Combo
The third day allows you to mix vegetables and fruits (still no bananas) while still eating the soup. Unlike day two, potatoes are strictly a no-go, baked or not.
Day Four: Bananas!
If you felt the loss of bananas during the fruit days, rejoice! On day four, you can have as many bananas as you like along with skim milk and soup. This is a sort of “treat day” in that the bananas are meant to help reduce any sugar cravings you may be feeling.
Day Five: Meat and Tomatoes
You need to eat 10 to 20 ounces of beef or chicken along with up to six fresh tomatoes. If you eat chicken, you can broil it or bake it but under no circumstances should the skin be left on. Should you prefer, you can eat broiled fish instead of chicken or beef but doing so prevents you from having fish on day six. Remember to have the cabbage soup at least once on this day.
Day Six: Meat and Vegetables
This is another unlimited portion day so you could technically have a porterhouse steak for every meal if it didn’t break the spirit of the diet. In any case, you can have as much protein and vegetables as you like with the same veggie restrictions as on day three. As mentioned above, you can have broiled fish on day six only if you didn’t have it on day five. Like on day five, make sure you have the soup at least once.
Day Seven: Juice, Veggies, and Rice
You can have unlimited servings of vegetables, brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice, and the soup. As before, lean towards leafy greens and away from beans, corn, and the like. And still no baked potato.
Who Should Avoid the Cabbage Soup Diet Plan
The cabbage soup diet is not for everyone. In addition to being highly intensive, the food restrictions, limited nutrition, and low calorie content of the cabbage soup diet mean that some individuals can put themselves at risk by trying it; anyone who is already frail or vulnerable to a nutrient deficiency should not attempt the diet plan. Ideally, you should consult with your doctor to make sure the cabbage soup diet is something you can handle.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your energy is going to be limited due to the low calorie content. It’s quite possible, especially in the first few days, for you to feel hungry, weak, or possibly dizzy or sick. As a result, don’t try the cabbage soup diet unless these symptoms won’t interfere with important activities (like driving).
The Cabbage Soup Diet Plan Recipe
- 1 green pepper
- 1 large can diced tomatoes
- 6 celery stalks
- 1 onion (large, chopped)
- 1–2 cubes of bouillon (if desired)
- 1 head cabbage
- 6 cups V-8 juice (low sodium is best)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp hot sauce (or to taste)
1. Chop up the vegetables.
2. Sauté the onion in a pot with the olive oil until the onion begins to sweat.
3. Add in the celery and pepper. Continue sautéing for four to five minutes.
4. Add the water, V-8 juice, bouillon, hot sauce, and tomatoes. Bring to boil.
5. Once the soup begins to boil, lower the temperature to a simmer until the vegetables are tender. The amount of time this takes depends on size of the slices, but it’s usually around 15 minutes.
6. Core and shred the cabbage, then add to the soup and cook for another 10 minutes.
The cabbage soup diet plan relies on strict adherence and although there is some room for substitutions, you should stick to the recipe as much as possible. You may add any low-calorie vegetables to the soup for additional flavor, such as zucchini, spinach, or kale. Up to one can of black beans may also be added for texture and protein, but no more than that. Other items to possibly include are various herbs or seasonings such as bay leaves, garlic powder, cayenne, or curry powder.
The Cabbage Soup Diet and Exercise Plan
Normally, diets advise that you perform exercise alongside the meal changes in order to promote weight loss and help maintain improvements. The cabbage soup diet, however, is an exception. Due to how low the diet is in calories, you will not likely have enough energy to safely perform higher-level workouts or exercises. If you do wish to work out, stick to less intensive methods such as yoga, walking, or light swimming.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Following the Cabbage Soup Diet Plan
- It may be helpful to avoid social outings such as going to restaurants or bars with friends. Restaurants don’t like it when you bring your own food and there is going to be quite a lot of temptation.
- The cabbage soup diet bases its weight loss off of significant calorie deprivation and water loss. As a result, without adequate planning you are going to be highly prone to gaining at least some of the weight back once the diet is over.
- Diets that are significantly low in calories can be dangerous to use unprepared and without medical supervision. Make sure to see your doctor at least once during the diet period.
- It bears repeating that you shouldn’t do the cabbage soup diet plan for more than seven days at a time. Doing so will inevitably put your health at risk.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Watson, S., “The Cabbage Soup Diet,” Web MD web site, last reviewed March 27, 2016; http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/cabbage-soup-diet, last accessed April 15, 2016.