Young woman preparing soup

What is the cabbage soup diet?

What is the cabbage soup diet, and can it help you lose weight? Dietician Emer Delaney discusses how this diet works, its basic steps and possible drawbacks.

The cabbage soup diet has been around for years, and is known as a popular quick-fix way to lose weight. Suffice to say, it’s not balanced, healthy or sustainable, and is not the road to follow for long-term weight loss. Advocates say it can help you lose up to 4.5kg in a week, but mark my words, this difference on the scales will be fluid. It is next to impossible to lose 4.5kg of fat in one week. If you choose to follow the diet, it’s advisable to take a vitamin and mineral supplement during the seven days.

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Discover even more guides breaking down popular diets, such as the sirtfood and the ketogenic diets. Or, get inspired by our collection of tasty cabbage soup recipes.

How does the cabbage soup diet work?

This diet is designed to be followed for a maximum of seven days, and not to be a long-term healthy eating plan. It consists of homemade cabbage soup, along with a few additional low-calorie foods such as fruit, vegetables and skimmed milk. Loosely speaking, you can consume the following along with unlimited cabbage soup:

  • Day 1: Fruit, but no bananas
  • Day 2: Leafy green vegetables, raw or cooked, and no fruit
  • Day 3: As many fruits and vegetables as you can eat, but no baked potatoes or bananas
  • Day 4: Skimmed milk, and as many bananas as you like
  • Day 5: 280-570g lean beef or chicken (skinless) and tomatoes (some say up to six maximum, but this is all anecdotal)
  • Day 6: Beef and green leafy vegetables
  • Day 7: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice and vegetables
Cabbage Soup

Can the cabbage soup diet aid weight loss?

If you follow this diet, you are likely to see a difference on the scales, but this will mostly be fluid changes. It is not possible to lose 4.5kg of fat in seven days. As a dietitian, I would never recommend it, but would provide support and advice for a long-term healthy sustainable plan to follow after.

Are there downsides to the cabbage soup diet?

Due to the restrictive nature of this diet, it is not sustainable in the long term, nor is it meant to be. It may cause people to become light-headed and/or dizzy due to the very low calorie level. As cabbage is part of the brassica family, some people may also experience mild digestive discomfort, such as bloating and flatulence if they are sensitive to this family of vegetables. As such, it is important to remember that when you return to eating regularly, the ‘weight’ you’ll have lost is likely to return easily, as it’s a loss of fluid and not fat.

Enjoyed this? Now read…

What is the Pioppi diet?
What is the Sirtfood diet?
What is the Paleo diet?
What is the Atkins diet?
What is a ketogenic diet?
What is the Dukan diet?


This article was published on the 13 October 2020.

Emer Delaney BSc (Hons), RD has an honours degree in human nutrition and dietetics from the University of Ulster. She has worked as a dietitian in some of London’s top teaching hospitals and is currently based in Chelsea.

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