What Is the Cabbage Soup Diet?

Dramatic weight loss in just one week sounds too good to be true.

December 15, 2021

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The cabbage soup diet is a fad diet that has been around for decades, promising followers dramatic weight loss in seven days. Like it suggests, the diet revolves around eating cabbage soup every day for a week. This diet is also called the "military diet," however, as far as we're aware, no military is implimenting this diet plan. Some on the Internet claim they've lost 10 pounds in a week on this diet, which is not a healthy weight loss strategy. For more on this fad diet including how it works and whether or not it's safe, keep reading.

What Is the Cabbage Soup Diet?

This diet, as the name suggests, revolves around the consumption of cabbage soup on a regular basis. For each day, there is a variation of cabbage soup to prepare with ingredients like tomatoes, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and vegetable broth. Here is what the one-week plan looks like.

  • Day 1: Several servings of cabbage soup and fruits (except bananas)
  • Day 2: Several servings of cabbage soup and vegetables (except starchy vegetables like beans, peas or corn)
  • Day 3: Several servings of cabbage soup, fruits and vegetables
  • Day 4: Several servings of cabbage soup, no more than eight bananas, unlimited nonfat milk
  • Day 5: At least one serving of cabbage soup, 10 to 20 ounces of skinless chicken or beef, no more than six tomatoes, unlimited water
  • Day 6: Unlimited vegetables (except starchy ones) and beef (up to several servings)
  • Day 7: At least one serving of cabbage soup, brown rice, vegetables and unsweetened fruit juice

You can purchase numerous books on the cabbage soup diet online, including several new titles published, and there are numerous websites you can visit on the diet.

The price you pay, however, is more than the cost of the book and all that cabbage. This is a very limiting diet and your palate will suffer. Eating the few allowable foods for the week can get rather boring. Further, the diet is also limiting in the allowable food groups, compromising your overall health and nutrient intake.

The diet has dangerously low calories, making it unhealthy. It lacks variation, which makes it impossible to take in all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. And the cabbage soup diet does not promote lifelong healthy habits to help maintain weight loss in the long run. Plus, there is no mention of exercise associated with this healthy eating plan (although working out when eating so few calories isn’t a good idea).

Bottom Line: This diet is not a healthy way to lose weight.

Although you will probably lose weight rather quickly, you’ll gain it all back in no time. This diet is not a healthy way to lose weight. The healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is by following a well-balanced eating plan that teaches you lifelong healthy eating habits; this diet does not do that.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

* This article was written and/or reviewed by a registered dietitian nutritionist.

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