Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Cabbage soup diet: Can it help with weight loss?

What is the cabbage soup diet, and can it help me lose weight?

Updated: 01-25-2011

Answer

The cabbage soup diet is generally considered a fad diet. As the name suggests, the cabbage soup diet requires that you eat large amounts of cabbage soup for a week. Proponents of the cabbage soup diet say it's a good way to lose weight fast, as much as 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in seven days. Although it may help you lose weight in the short-term — as almost any low-calorie diet can — this diet doesn't help you make the lifestyle changes necessary for maintaining a healthy weight over the long term.

Variations of the cabbage soup diet have been around for years, written about online and in books. It's not clear where the cabbage soup diet originated. On the cabbage soup diet, you eat cabbage soup every day for seven days. During that time, you can also eat certain fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken and brown rice, according to a daily schedule. Because the cabbage soup diet is low in complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, you wouldn't want to stay on the cabbage soup diet for more than a week at a time. It should be followed by at least two weeks of a normal, balanced diet to ensure proper nutrition.

The cabbage soup diet has other disadvantages. Depending on the recipe for cabbage soup, the diet can be very high in sodium. The large amounts of cabbage also can make you more prone to flatulence. And if you're not getting proper nutrition, you may feel weak or tired while on the diet. In addition, the cabbage soup diet doesn't include physical activity and exercise.

Any time you drastically cut calories, you can lose weight. If you lose a lot of weight very quickly, though, it may not be fat that you're losing. It might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it's hard to burn that many fat calories in such a short period. And once you stop the diet, it's easy to regain any weight that you lost, especially on plans that don't include physical activity.

Remember, successful weight-loss programs address both diet and exercise and help you develop healthy lifelong habits that keep the weight off.