The Cabbage Soup Diet promises weight loss and has the added benefit of being cheap and relatively easy to prepare. However, as the name indicates, your food choices will be very limited on this diet. Read on to find out more if this diet is for you.

Overview and history of the Cabbage Soup Diet

Exactly how this diet came to be is anybody’s guess. We simply do not know who was the first one to come up with it or to test it out, and if you do, feel free to contact us with the information, however, what we do know, is that it became popular during the eighties.

The popularity of the Cabbage Soup Diet actually started out as ‘faxlore’. This essentially means that it was an urban legend that circulated via fax machines.

Its equivalent today might be the many forwarded ‘health tips’ emails that you get from a concerned relative, friend, or colleague.

Over time, people tried to pin the names of institutions on this diet and attempted to give it names like “Sacred Heart “ and other names, but no institution ever claimed the diet and usually has denied any links to it.

The basis of this diet is simply that cabbage soup has incredibly few calories in it. In fact, a typical serving of cabbage soup has less than 50 calories. Essentially, no matter how much you eat, you will not get anywhere near your weight maintenance line and you will lose some weight.

The part that is liked about it is that it is advertised as “eat as much as you can” type of a diet, which is generally appealing to those who dislike feeling hunger while on an extreme weight loss diet.

Main purpose and goal of the Cabbage Soup Diet

This is a simple one – short-term weight loss. The only purpose and the only goal of this diet are to try and lose as many pounds as you can as fast as you can.

It is very important to reiterate that the Cabbage Soup Diet is a short-term solution only. The promise is that you will lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in 7 days of a planned diet. You are not to try and turn it into a lifestyle choice or prolong it for extended periods of time as you will starve your body too much.

Now, since diets like this usually come with the infamous “yo-yo” effect, various users try to utilize it in different ways.

The most common ones are either trying to jumpstart their long-term weight loss, where they bounce back to a regular weight loss diet and a standard 500 calorie restriction per day, and to simply drop the pounds for an important event they want to look their best for, even if it will only last for a couple of weeks at best.

The big question about the goal of this diet is not what happens at its end (when the famous week goes by), but rather what happens after it ends and how will you avoid putting the pounds back on?

Who is the Cabbage Soup Diet ideal for?

“Ideal” is a big word for this diet, but it could be useful to those who desperately need to shed a few pounds.

As a choice, it is also good for those who are afraid of going hungry since you really do get to eat as much as you want and to never really feel hungry while on this diet.

Another group of people that could benefit from a diet this low on calories is obese people. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a lot to say on very low-calorie diets and how it can help people battling obesity.

A diet such as this comes with rapid weight loss that can actually improve some of the medical conditions that ail those who suffer from obesity.

In addition, the Cabbage Soup Diet can serve as a great motivational tool for those who really need to lose some weight.

This type of a diet will slow down one’s metabolism and make it harder to lose weight for a longer period of time, however.

As a result, it’s best to use the Cabbage Soup Diet to ‘kick start’ your diet efforts and then switch it up with other diets that can provide your body with a wider variety of foods and nutrients.

Is the Cabbage Soup Diet easy to do?

Well, since it is only supposed to last for up to seven days, one could say that this is a rather easy diet to follow. You get the cabbage soup recipe, the ingredients are cheap and easily available in your local stores, and you are allowed planned snacks during the week.

However, it has a major drawback. It is tedious. While you will not fail due to hunger (the most common reason other dieters fail), you could still drop it after you realize how boring it is to only eat a single type of soup for every meal for days.

If you really love cabbage or you’re just not that particular about the food you eat, though, then this might not be an issue for you due to its relatively neutral taste.

It is true that you have to prepare all of your meals. But then again, that stands for almost every diet out there.

You might miss all the things that are restricted (and a lot of foods are), but again, you would have to suffer through that with most diets in general. As diets go, this one is not that hard to implement into your daily life.

Foods that are part of the Cabbage Soup Diet

Cabbage soup, cabbage soup, and more cabbage soup.

Just kidding! There’s more to this diet than just cabbage soup, despite what the name implies.

In fact, since this diet has been popular for almost 40 years now, it is fairly developed, and we will show you the exact fruits and veggies you can eat and when. But first, we will show you how to make the infamous soup.

The main dish: cabbage soup

First of all, you will need these ingredients:

  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 white cabbage
  • a couple of carrots
  • a package of mushrooms
  • a stalk of celery
  • a couple of green peppers
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • a bouillon cube

Once you get those ingredients, you can start making cabbage soup in four easy steps:

  1. Chop the veggies. Aim for bite sized cubes or smaller.
  2. Get are large pot and sauté onions with just a bit of oil.
  3. Throw all of the remaining ingredients in (do not forget the water, or if you dislike the use of water, you can use a vegetable cocktail), also, season to taste.
  4. Once the water starts boiling, switch to medium heat and leave it until everything is nice and soft. It will usually take between half an hour and 45 minutes.

If you really need to add some taste, free to season it with hot sauce, herbs, spices, salt or pepper. Also, you can add other vegetables as long as they are not starchy (for an example, spinach or green beans).

Now, as we have mentioned numerous times, this diet has a fully developed seven-day plan in regards of what you get to eat besides the cabbage soup for every meal.

Complimentary foods

Day 1: Fruits, but avoid bananas.

Day 2: Cooked greens, and a single baked potato with very little butter.

Day 3: Fruits and veggies, but no bananas and no potatoes.

Day 4: For the fourth day, you get to eat all the bananas you want and some skimmed milk.

Day 5: This day is the day most can’t wait to get to because on the fifth day, you are allowed to eat meat. Depending on your weight, aim for between 10 and 20 ounces of beef (if you do not enjoy beef you can eat fish or chicken instead). You can also eat some fresh tomatoes.

Day 6: You also get beef on this day, however, if you have subbed it out on the fifth day, you do not get to do that on the sixth. Leafy veggie salads are also great for this day.

Day 7: On the last day of the diet, you can add in brown rice and eat some veggies on the side. You can also drink freshly squeezed fruit juice as much as you want.

Once the seventh day is over, so is your round of this diet. Remember not to snap back to your usual amount of food as it will bring back all the weight, you want to keep living a healthier life after this. You can repeat this diet, but not without waiting for at least two weeks.

Foods that are to be avoided on the Cabbage Soup Diet

Don’t overthink it. Eat only the meals according to the plan and you are good to go. It is true that it is not an appetizing diet and that the soup is bland. But remind yourself that it is only for a week and that you get to eat other foods as well in between your meals.

How effective is the Cabbage Soup Diet overall?

Well, it is decently effective when it comes to short-term weight loss. But, unfortunately, your body cannot really burn 10 pounds of fat in a week.

This is basically just a VLCD (Very Low-Calorie Diet) and a research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in 1992 found that your body will always tap into your glycogen storage before spending fats.

Out of the 10 pounds that you may lose in that week (which is still too high a number, and not very likely to happen), only 3-4 pounds will actually be your fat going away. The rest will be the infamous water weight and some muscle mass.

Another article that examined VLCDs found that, while regaining the weight is very common, VLCDs are helpful for initiating weight losses and introducing the benefits of dieting to obese patients.

Potential mistakes to avoid on the Cabbage Soup Diet

Do not go hungry. The diet is very low in calories no matter how much food you eat. A lot of people will try to eat less to get faster results, but they are only making unnecessary risks for no good reason. Another mistake is sweetening your tea or buying sugar filled drinks.

If the goal of the diet losing weight, the only reason you should break it is if you believe you need more protein in your meals. Not for sugar.

And never keep this diet running for more than a week. If you do, it might actually have negative effects on your health. Also avoid any serious exercise as you will not have enough protein intake.

How healthy is the Cabbage Soup Diet?

It is not very healthy at all. And we understand that it might sound weird since it is mostly based on vegetables, but you really need more nutrients that this diet offers. You could fix this by adding in protein rich foods before the fifth day, but it would slow down the diet a bit.

Also, a diet this low in calories will slow your resting metabolic rate down. And, we said that you can repeat it after two weeks, but that is the bare minimum of a break that you simply have to make to avoid negative effects.

One week will not cause vitamin or mineral deficiencies but you might feel weak or light-headed during the diet. Your sugar levels will also see a big change, as this diet has almost no carbs in it.

But, as long as you entered the diet as a healthy individual you are probably not going to suffer any dangerous effects.

In the end, it is no more dangerous than any other VLCD out there.

Our Cabbage Soup Diet review conclusion

We would not recommend this diet to anyone who is looking to lose some weight to make a change in their life, but if you are panicking about an event and you feel you have to trim down in a week, then it is not that bad a choice. Especially if you like to eat boiled veggies.

Unfortunately, no real studies have been done in regards to this diet, so we cannot say with certainty that it would work as advertised.

Also, be prepared to gain most of the weight back, and don’t fret about it too much when it happens as it is virtually unavoidable.


What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to reaching your healthy eating and weight loss goals? For most people, it’s the ability to accurately map out exactly what they need to eat, and when. It’s even tougher to do this consistently on a daily basis. We recommend this meal planning tool, which helps you do all that and more.

From calculating your daily intake needs to generating automated meal plans and grocery lists, this all-in-one meal planner will help you accelerate fat loss and muscle gain while cutting the waste out of your diet. Try it out and let us know how it helped you get fitter and healthier!