Obesity Fad Diets Cabbage Soup

The cabbage soup detox/diet appeared several years ago and flourishes on the Internet. Cabbage soup diets provide some temporary weight loss because they are very low-calorie diets. However, the typical cabbage soup detox is not a healthy alternative to exercise and eating a balanced diet.

The Origins of Cabbage Soup Diets

Some sources claim that cabbage soup diets originated at a hospital to help surgery patients lose weight. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.

Some advocates of the soup diet also claim the American Heart Association (AHA) endorses the diet. The AHA makes it quite clear that it considers a cabbage soup detox unhealthy.

The Soup Diet

The soup diet “works” by severely restricting calories. The dieter’s main intake is cabbage soup for one week.

The diet is restrictive and monotonous: The dieter can eat as much cabbage soup as she likes, but very little else. Here’s a quick overview of what someone on the cabbage diet can expect:

  • Day one: Cabbage soup, any fruit except bananas
  • Day two: Cabbage soup, vegetables and a baked potato (with a little butter)
  • Day three: Cabbage soup, any vegetables or fruit except bananas and potatoes
  • Day four: Cabbage soup, up to eight bananas, unlimited skim milk
  • Day five: Cabbage soup, up to 20 ounces of beef or chicken, and up to six tomatoes
  • Day six: Cabbage soup, unlimited beef or vegetables, no potatoes
  • Day seven: Cabbage soup, brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice, vegetables (no potatoes).

Cabbage Diet Recipe

Cabbage soup recipes abound on the Internet. Common ingredients in a cabbage diet recipe include:

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Green peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion soup mix
  • Onions
  • Tinned tomatoes.

Many cabbage soup recipes are high in salt.

Does a Cabbage Soup Detox Work?

Although a cabbage soup detox will result in weight loss, don’t expect to keep this weight off. Any weight lost is either fluid or muscle mass, rather than actual fat. Once the diet ends, the weight returns.

Problems with Cabbage Soup Diets

While the individual ingredients in cabbage diet recipes are reasonably healthy, the diet lacks necessary carbohydrates, protein and essential fats. Staying on the cabbage soup diet for longer than a week can cause malnourishment. While a healthy individual can probably eat the cabbage diet for a week without ill effects, anyone with special dietary needs, such as people with diabetes, should probably avoid the diet.

Since the cabbage soup diet reduces calories so severely, the body may believe it’s starving, causing metabolism to slow and muscle tissue to be consumed before fat. In addition, because you’ll be consuming so few calories, you may be too tired to exercise.

Finally, anyone on the cabbage soup diet eats a lot of cabbage over the course of a week, and with cabbage comes flatulence. Not only is a week of cabbage eating monotonous, it can also be rather embarrassing.


American Heart Association. (2010). Alternatives to fad diets. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=510.

Diets in Review. (n.d.). Cabbage soup diet. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.dietsinreview.com/diets/Cabbage_Soup_Diet/.

Every Diet. (2009). Cabbage soup diet. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.everydiet.org/diet/cabbage-soup-diet.

Weight Loss Resources. (n.d.). The cabbage soup diet: Report. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/logout/news_features/cabbage_soup_diet.htm.