Cabbage soup diet: Everything you need to know about the cabbage soup diet plan

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  • The cabbage soup diet is a very strict, very low calorie diet and it isn’t for the faint hearted.

    Despite being called ‘The Cabbage Soup Diet’, surprisingly, you don’t just have to eat cabbage soup.  Although you do eat mainly cabbage soup, not many people realise that you can also have fruit, other veg and even some meat (on certain days).

    While it’s certainly one of the diets that work fast, it’s not necessarily the best one to go for. The cabbage soup diet has been a popular quick-fix diet for years due to claims that you can lose up to 10 pounds in a short period of time. But is it the right quick weight-loss plan for you?

    As the cabbage soup diet plan is an extreme diet that is incredibly restrictive,  you shouldn’t stay on it for more than one week. Like the 5:2 plan and other intermittent fasting diets, this restrictive diet plan is a good way to lose weight quickly but is not sustainable in the long-term. For long-term, sustainable weight loss, try healthier diets that you’re more likely to stick to, such as the high-protein diet or the medically recommended Mediterranean diet.

    What is the cabbage soup diet?

    The cabbage soup diet is an extremely low-fat, high-fibre diet that lasts seven days. The concept is fairly simple – you make and eat as much cabbage soup as you want. Generally people eat between two to three bowls a day.

    The idea is that your homemade cabbage soup (which carries virtually no calories) will help you feel full and aid some weight loss by stopping you snacking between meals.

    Whilst cabbage is key, you can eat other low fat foods whilst on the cabbage soup diet plan, says nutritionist Mina Khan, founder of Formulate Health:

    “The soup doesn’t only contain cabbage. Many recipes include green peppers, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables,” she tells us. “As well as cabbage soup, the diet allows you to start incorporating different fruits and vegetables in the first few days, and slowly reintroduces lean meats, dairy and rice towards the end of the 7 day program.” 

    Close up of a cabbage on a chopping board being sliced with a knife

    Credit: Getty

    The cabbage soup diet is only designed as a kick-start to help you lose weight quickly.

    “The person following such a diet may see the effects, but a diet like this is not sustainable and should not be practiced for an extended period of time,” says dietitian Jasmine Carbon of Carbon Nutrition. This is because of its (unsurprising) cabbage focus and cutting out of other key food groups.

    Pros and cons of the cabbage soup diet

    Dietitian Jasmine Carbon points out cabbage’s nutritional benefits:

    “Cabbage is a great source of fibre essential for gut flora and bowel health,” she says. “Eating a portion of cabbage would count towards your 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.

    “However, it should be eaten as part of a balanced diet. This is not a diet I would recommend anyone to follow,” she adds.

    Jasmine is concerned with how restrictive the cabbage soup diet plan is, which in turn could affect your body both physically and mentally:

    “If done for a number of days the person could miss out on vital calories, protein, vitamins and minerals essential for the body to function and to allow you to carry out your day-to-day tasks.”

    Mina agrees that the diet’s focus can wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels. Leaving individuals feeling faint or weak and is particularly dangerous for those with diabetes.

    bloated stomach stressed

    PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty

    The cabbage soup diet also has a reputation for leaving you full of wind (lovely). This is because cabbage is high in fibre and can cause some digestive issues for those who aren’t used to consuming high quantities of fibre.

    “Expect to experience some gastro-intestinal discomfort such as bloating, gas build up, nausea and flatulence,” adds Jasmine. Diarrhoea is another common side-effect of the cabbage soup diet plan.

    Whilst weight loss can be expected (and seen as a pro of this diet), it’s worth noting that those who follow the cabbage soup diet will put the weight back on when they come off it.

    “In terms of weight loss, this diet could definitely help almost anyone to shed some weight within a few days,” says Mina. “However it’s crucial to bear in mind that this diet is not a sustainable way to lose weight in the long run, and will likely result in you regaining the weight you lose once you stop restricting your intake of normal foods.”

    Cabbage soup diet review

    Caitlin Fitzgerald, 54, from Morpeth, Northumberland, tried the Cabbage Soup Diet. But how did she get on? And did she lose any weight… ?

    “My husband’s work do was coming up and I wanted to fit back into a slinky black dress I’d had for years. I put off dieting until I only had a couple of weeks to go then suddenly panicked! The cabbage soup diet seemed a good way of losing weight fast.

    “I made a fresh batch of the cabbage soup every two or three days and followed the other bits of the plan, like eating lots of fruit and veg. Though I didn’t mind the cabbage soup to start with, by about day four, I’d gone right off it! I tried to make it more interesting by adding different veg and herbs but it didn’t make it much better.

    “It had rotten side effects too – my husband nearly ended up sleeping in the spare room I was so full of wind! But I stuck at it for a week and lost four pounds. I fitted into my little black dress but, to be honest, I’d put all the weight back on two weeks later!”

    A bowl of cabbage soup on a wooden table with a tea towel

    Credit: Getty

    Cabbage soup diet 7-day meal plan

    Day 1: You can eat as much fruit as you want (except bananas) along with unlimited cabbage soup, water and unsweetened tea and coffee.

    Day 2: Avoid fruit but eat raw veg and cabbage soup. You’re allowed a baked potato in the evening.

    Day 3: As much cabbage soup, fruit and vegetables as you like (excluding potatoes and bananas).

    Day 4: Unlimited cabbage soup. You can drink some skimmed milk and eat up to eight bananas.

    Day 5: Lots of cabbage soup and 565g of beef and six tomatoes. Makes sure you drink 6-8 glasses of water.

    Day 6: As much cabbage soup, beef and vegetables as you like (excluding potatoes).

    Day 7: Unlimited cabbage soup, a little brown rice and sugar-free fruit juice.

    Top tip: Spice up your soup by adding some cayenne pepper – it’ll make it taste better.

    Five steps to Cabbage soup Diet success:

    1. Drink at least 4 glasses of water per day, staying hydrated is key
    2. Follow the diet as closely as you can
    3. Keep in mind it’s only seven days long
    4. Add different spices to make the soup taste more interesting (such as chilli flakes for a little heat)
    5. Try taking a daily multi-vitamin

    cabbage soup diet

    Credit: Getty Images

    Cabbage soup diet recipe

    To make cabbage soup you will need:

    • 6 large onions chopped
    • 2 green peppers diced
    • 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)
    • 250g mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 bunch celery, chopped
    • 1/2 head cabbage
    • chopped 3 carrots
    • sliced 1 package dry onion soup mix
    • 1 or 2 cubes bouillon (optional)
    • Salt and pepper
    • A pinch of Cayenne pepper, curry powder, mixed herbs or any other seasoning for added flavour

    How to make cabbage soup:

    1. Use spray oil to fry the chopped onions in a large pot.
    2. Add the green pepper pieces and cook for one min.
    3. Add the chopped cabbage leaves, sliced carrots, celery and mushrooms.
    4. Sprinkle over a little cayenne pepper or curry powder.
    5. Add 12 cups of water and any additional stock cubes.
    6. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables is the vegetables are tender and the soup is the right consistency.

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