With many diet crazes out there in the market, you may have heard of the popular cabbage soup diet. This diet has been given credibility by a number of prominent health experts. However, as is true before starting any new diet, it is important to learn about the details of the diet, as well as any limitations, risks, side effects, potential benefits and tips on how to follow the diet for best results.
What is a Cabbage Soup Diet?
Cabbage soup diet is a nutritional plan that consists primarily of eating cabbage soup anywhere from 1-3 times per day, in addition to various other nutritional components, such as vegetables, lean meat, dairy products, fruit, and certain starches. This is a short-term diet that promises fast results, as it will let you cut your total caloric intake in half, at least, if you follow the specific directions every day. While many people labeled the cabbage soup diet as a fad, but there are a number of proven benefits to this strategy. It is considered an effective and safe way to lose weight quickly.
Cabbage Soup Diet Meal Plan
The basic structure of the cabbage soup diet is rather straightforward but is quite rigid. There are no limitations on the varieties of foods you can eat, but it is important to narrow down the range of foods you are eating to specific days. This is just to ensure you that you get enough nutrients over the course of the week, while also re-training your metabolism and appetite, which can help maintain your healthy habits moving forward. Most people choose to eat at 4-5 set intervals in a day to have balanced calorie intake and stabilized energy levels.
- Day 1 – Cabbage soup and fruits, but no bananas.
- Day 2 – Cabbage soup and vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery, and asparagus. Avoid beans and corn. One starchy vegetable is allowed for dinner.
- Day 3 – Cabbage soup, fruit and green vegetables. Avoid all starchy vegetables.
- Day 4 – Cabbage soup, skim milk and bananas.
- Day 5 – Cabbage soup, mixed with beef, as well as tomatoes and plenty of water.
- Day 6 – Cabbage soup, along with beef and vegetables.
- Day 7 – Cabbage soup with brown rice and vegetables.
How Does Cabbage Soup Diet Work?
A cabbage soup diet is based on the idea of caloric restriction, as we know that cabbage is a calorie-negative food. Essentially, it takes more calories to burn cabbage in the digestive process than the food actually contains. By making cabbage soup the central part of this diet, it is believed that it helps speed up the metabolism and reduce calorie intake, without depriving the body of too many essential nutrients for too long.
As mentioned, this is only intended to be a short-term diet, as the limited caloric intake can eventually have negative effects on the body. While most people don’t go on this diet for more than 7 days, there are reports of people using this diet for a month, losing up to 30 pounds in the process. A caloric deficit of 50%, combined with semi-regular exercise, can result in rapid weight loss, provided you can deal with the potential side effects of this diet. Most importantly, before embarking on this diet, it is essential that you speak to your doctor about any particular risks or complications this diet might have for your health.
The inherent limitations of a cabbage soup diet are the duration it can be used for, the potential nutrient deficiencies, and the single-focus nature of the diet.
Duration: Unlike some diets that can become a permanent lifestyle change, the cabbage soup diet is typically only used for 3-10 days, although exceptions do apply. Since the duration is inherently limited, many people relapse or see the results they achieve disappear once they stop dieting and return to old patterns.
Nutrient Deficiency: Unless you know what you are doing or know a lot about specific nutrients in your diet, there is a good chance that this diet will result in certain nutrient deficiencies. While the basic minerals and vitamins are largely covered, some entire food groups are eliminated on given days, making it difficult to acquire protein or carbohydrates.
Single Focus: Most diets include a comprehensive approach to lifestyle, diet, and exercise, but this diet is solely focused on your eating habits, which can be less effective than broader dietary approaches.
Cabbage Soup Recipe
There are a few wonderful cabbage soup recipes that will make this rather challenging diet a bit easier for those who love variation and flavor in their food. The most important thing is that the cabbage soup is fat-free.
Simple Cabbage Soup Recipe
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 4 cups cabbage coarsely chopped
- 4 cups water or
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup carrot sliced 1/8 inches thick
- rosemary optional
- Warm olive oil in a large pot and add the bay leaf, onion, and garlic. Stir well till you get a fragrant aroma.
- Add the coarsely chopped cabbage and stir again for a minute. If you are using carrots, you can add it in now.
- Pour in the water or chicken stock. Season the soup with salt and black pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes. You can add fresh rosemary too. This helps add another layer of flavoring to the soup. Serve hot!
Side Effects of Cabbage Soup Diet
Eliminating nearly half your calories doesn’t come without a cost, most notably a drop in energy levels, poor gastrointestinal health, headaches, nausea, and excessive flatulence.
Stomach Issues: Many people experience cramping, stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea when they first begin this diet. This is a combination of changing your diet rapidly and reducing the normal nutrient content that your digestive system expects.
Flatulence: The most common and embarrassing side effect of a cabbage soup diet is the nearly constant flatulence. The gases released during cabbage digestion are unpleasant and difficult to avoid.
Nausea: Some people have experienced nausea, lightheadedness, muscle weakness and dizziness after a few days on a cabbage soup diet. This is largely due to the sudden drop in calories, particularly if you have a relatively fast metabolism, or are an active person. While many people choose this diet for weight loss, others use it to detoxify, but depriving your body of calories can be dangerous.
Headaches: Similar to nausea, headaches or even migraines can occur when on this diet, due to the lower energy levels in the body. It is important to drink a lot of water, as it can prevent headaches and help you feel full.
Mood Swings: If you have ever been extremely hungry, you know that it can affect your mood. Therefore, expect some emotional or unpredictable moments when your body is literally begging you to give it more calories.