With the many diet crazes out there on the market, many of you may not have heard of the cabbage soup diet, which is rapidly gaining popularity and 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 use the diet successfully.
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What is a Cabbage Soup Diet?
The 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 your total caloric intake will likely be sliced in half, at least, if you follow the specific directions every day. While many people labeled the cabbage soup diet as a fad, there are a number of proven benefits to this strategy, and it is generally 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 it is quite rigid. There are no limitations on the amount of these foods that you can eat, but it is important to restrict your intake on specific days to a very narrow range of foods. This is meant to ensure you are getting enough nutrients over the course of the week, while also re-training your metabolism and appetite, which can help your healthy habits moving forward. Most people choose to eat 4-5 different times throughout the day to spread out the calorie intake and stabilize 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 starch 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 limitations, as well as the common knowledge 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 to speed up the metabolism and severely 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.
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.
If you are considering going on the cabbage soup diet, the best advice includes speaking with your doctor, drinking your fruit, increasing water intake, eating a few fats every day, “fake” eating and keeping physically active, in moderation.
Water: Drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day will help you feel full and speed up the detoxifying process, making you feel even better.
Drink Your Fruit: On the fruit days, try making smoothies, rather than eating the fruit whole. This will increase satiety, making you less aware of the low calorie intake.
Sweet Treats: Allow yourself a few M&Ms or Tic-Tacs every day, as this can distract the body from the fact that it isn’t getting carbohydrates or fats.
Fake Eating: In desperate times, put a delicious food in your mouth, like a piece of cake, and let it sit on your tongue. You can even chew it a bit, but then spit it out. The taste will keep you from going crazy but the calories won’t go into your body!
Speak with Your Doctor: Perhaps 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.
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.
Recipe #1 – Basic Cabbage Soup
Step 1 – Cook the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a heated sauce pan for 5-7 minutes.
Step 2 – Add the salt, water, pepper and bouillon, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil.
Step 3 – Add the chopped cabbage and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted.
Step 4 – Allow to simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe #2 – Flavorful Cabbage Soup
- Vegetable Broth
- Bell Peppers
- Green Beans
- Olive Oil
Step 1 – Cook all vegetables except for cabbage and tomatoes, in a large frying pan in olive oil, until the onions are transparent.
Step 2 – Add 6 cups of vegetable broth, as well as cabbage, spices and tomatoes to the mixture.
Step 3 – Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer.
Step 4 – Allow the mixture to simmer for 20-30 minutes before removing from heat and serving.
Rapid Weight Loss
Although individual results may vary with the cabbage soup diet, it is not unheard of for people to lose up to 10 pounds in a week when they stick closely to this diet plan. Cabbage soup is very high in fiber, as well as low in cholesterol, saturated fat and calories. This dietary fiber can help cleanse the digestive tracts, thoroughly eliminating any excess waste, while also helping the body eliminate water weight. For some people who retain water, the majority of the weight loss is from water, which is notorious for returning quickly after individuals go off their diet.
This isn’t the case with everyone, however, there are plenty of people who use the cabbage soup diet as a starting platform for a healthier approach to their eating habits. While some of the weight may come back, the awareness of the effect that healthy, low-fat food can have on the body is extremely valuable for long-term wellness.
Side Effects of Cabbage Soup Diet
Stomach Issues: Many people experience cramping, stomach pain, constipation and 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 most 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 described 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 the nausea, headaches and even migraines can occur when using this diet, due to the lower resource levels in the body. It is important to drink water while on this diet, as it can prevent headaches and help you feel full.
Mood Swings: If you have every 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.