Can you imagine eating the same food every day for a whole week? That’s what the Cabbage Soup Diet is all about. There’s no question that cabbage and soup are healthy. It’s a low-calorie/carb food that’s chock-full of many nutrients. Consider the fact that soup is one of the best foods to eat for treating cold/flu symptoms. This is due to the broth and ingredients veggies. Fun Fact: Cabbage has 85% reference daily intake (RDI) for Vitamin K (potassium). It also provides high amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. Cabbage soup is also Keto-friendly and a good choice for other diets like Paleo and Vegan (no-meat of course).
The big question is whether a diet of mostly cabbage soup can help you lose weight and keep it off. The diet’s supporters claim you can lose 10 pounds in the first week. That’s a caloric deficit of 35,000 calories or 3,500 calories/day. Even if you factor in fat AND water weight it’s quite a bold claim. As always, it’s important to look at the nitty-gritty of the diet to separate fact from fiction. There’s a difference between losing a few pounds and maintaining a long-term healthy diet.
What’s the Cabbage Soup Diet?
You’ve probably eaten cabbage, soup, and even cabbage soup. However, what about this diet that’s built around hot food? This is a one-week diet that’s supposed to help you lose up to 10 pounds.
That claim itself is somewhat questionable since each pound of fat is 3,500 calories. More on that later.
The Cabbage Soup plan requires you to eat the vegetable soup every day for a full week. It’s not just an appetizer or light lunch. The cabbage soup is the star of the show for the full week. You’re also allowed 1 or 2 other low-calorie foods like veggies, fruit, or skim milk.
This diet is different from others that are designed to be followed for at least a month, for example, the main goal of the CSD is to slim down or launch a long-term diet like Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Keto, Intermittent Fasting (IF), etc.
You might see this diet referred to by other names like the Mayo Clinic Diet and Sacred Heart Hospital Diet. The reason is a hospital reportedly designed the diet for fast weight-loss before heart surgery. Like the Military Diet’s origins, there are no reports that support the claims.
In fact, like Atkins that was created in 1972, you might be surprised the CSD has existed since the 1980s. It’s still around because enough people follow the eating plan.
Here’s how the diet works. You have to make big batches of cabbage soup that you’ll at for one full week. The different ingredients in the soup can vary. However, here’s the basic recipe:
- Cabbage (1 head)
- Carrots (3)
- Green peppers (2)
- Tomatoes (2 cans)
- Celery (1 bunch)
- Mushrooms (1 package)
- Onions (2, large)
- Bouillon cubes (1-2, optional)
- Water/vegetable juice (6-8 cups)
Since you’ll be eating the soup for a full week it’s better to buy the ingredients in bulk or at a farmer’s market to save money.
How to Follow Cabbage Soup Diet
Here’s how to make the soup:
- Chop all veggies into small cubes
- Sauté onion with a little oil in a big stockpot
- Add other veggies
- Cover w/ water/V8 juice
- Add bouillon cubes/seasonings
- Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium
- Simmer until veggies are tender (30 to 45 min.)
You can season your soup with salt/pepper, herbs/spices, or hot sauce. If you want you can also add non-starchy veggies like green beans or spinach.
You’re allowed to eat an unlimited amount of soup every day. Most of your diet should be soup-based.
While on the CSD you can eat 1 or 2 low-carb foods every day besides the soup. Make sure you’re only drinking water or 0-calorie drinks like green tea or black coffee.
While on this diet you should also consider taking a multivitamin every day. That’s because you’ll be missing various nutrients while on this diet.
There are also some daily rules to follow:
- Day 1: No-limit cabbage soup/fruit, no bananas
- Day 2: No-limit soup/vegetables. Focus on green leafy veggies and avoid corn, beans, and peas. You can eat 1 baked potato w/ butter/oil.
- Day 3: No-limit soup, vegetables, and fruits
- Day 4: No-limit cabbage soup, bananas, and skim milk
- Day5: 10-20 oz. beef/chicken/fish, fresh tomatoes (6), and water (6-8 glasses)
- Day 6: No-limit soup, beef/fish, and veggies (green leafy).
- Day 7: No-limit fruit juice, brown rice, and veggies.
It’s important to only follow this diet for 7 days. However, you can repeat the CSD after waiting 2+ weeks after completing it.
The diet is relatively easy to follow. You don’t have to do any calorie or carb-counting, for example. Making large batches of cabbage soup will make it easier to follow the diet since it will always be on hand. This can also save lots of time, effort, and money, which is a plus.
Can You Lose Weight on CSD?
This is the big question. No studies have been done to check the diet plan’s claims. However, since the diet is low-carb and features healthy foods there’s a good chance you can lose weight and fat while on the CSD.
This might be surprising due to the unlimited items like cabbage soup. However, they’re so low-calorie/carb it would be tough to gain weight unless you ate tons of them. This is especially true if you’ve been on the so-called Standard American Diet (SAD).
That said, you’ll likely regain the weight after going off the diet. A low-carb diet causes your body’s metabolism to slow down to conserve calories/carbs. However, even after a few days on the diet your metabolism will “plateau.”
This situation is common in long-term diets. It also explains why you’ll likely gain back the weight after you go back to a full-calorie/carb diet.
Studies show that low-calorie diets can provide various benefits for short-term weight loss and improved metabolism. This includes short-term lower insulin resistance.
There are other benefits of the CSD. For example, there are lots of plant-based foods like fruits and veggies. You also won’t get hungry like on fasting diets since you can eat unlimited cabbage soup.
There are also some possible drawbacks to this diet. The weight loss will probably be short-term so the main benefit of the diet is probably detox instead of weight-loss.
It’s also highly unlikely you’ll lose 10 pounds in one week. Studies also show that losing 2+ pounds per week usually results in muscle loss. When you’re eating unlimited anything it’s tough to burn 2x more calories than a standard caloric intake of 2,500 calories/day.
Since the diet is low-calorie it will also be tough to get all the daily nutrients you need. It’s probably better to supplement some meals with ingredients from the cabbage soup diet.