The ‘Cabbage Soup’ diet: Does it actually work?

Diet & Recipes

The ‘Cabbage Soup’ diet: Does it actually work?

There’s no doubt the leafy green vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse, but is the cabbage soup diet a fad or a fix?

It’s the grandmother of all diets and has been enthused about by hard-core dieters celebrities who've tried the cabbage soupe diet include AbFab star Joanna Lumley, Dolly Parton and movie actress Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Fans claim that you can lose around 10lbs in seven days, so the appeal of the Cabbage Soup diet is obvious – but before you rush to the supermarket to stock up on the leafy veg, there are certain risks you need to consider. This diet isn’t for the faint hearted!

WHAT IS THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET?

Just as the name suggests, the Cabbage Soup Diet is a 7-day food plan designed around eating – you guessed it, low-calorie cabbage soup. Lovisa Nilsson, nutritionist at health app Lifesum, says: "Each day, cabbage soup makes up the staple of your diet, (2-3 times a day) but you are allowed to tuck into a small amount of other foods on certain days."

HOW DOES THE DIET WORK?

The premise of the diet is that cabbages are low in calories - around 33 in an average veg - and extremely low in fat. So by substituting lunch and dinner with portions of homemade cabbage soup, your daily calorie intake is drastically reduced, meaning you lose weight rapidly.

WHAT'S ON THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET SHOPPING LIST?

Cabbage, obviously. Salad Leaves Root vegetables like carrots and cauliflower, but not starchy veg like corn, peas, and beans Potatoes - for evening meals Fruit for snacking Brown rice Red meat OR chicken OR fish - your protein of choice, basically Tomatoes

WHAT OTHER FOODS CAN I HAVE?

The diet plan isn’t restricted to cabbage soup alone (phew!). You can add veg to your soup and eat as much as fruit and raw/cooked vegetables as you like. On day two you can reward yourself with a baked potato for dinner and on day seven you can eat brown rice, in addition to the soup. You’re also allowed over 10-20 ounces of meat such as beef, chicken and fish on day 5 and 6. Unsweetened skimmed milk, tea, coffee and water are included too.

WHAT FOODS CAN’T I HAVE?

Unsurprisingly, alcohol is forbidden as well as bread and complex carbs in general, as well as sweet treats.

WILL I ACTUALLY LOSE WEIGHT?

According to claims, the diet could help you lose around 10lbs over the seven days because of the low calorie and low-fat content. But as Lovisa warns, "whilst the diet helps you to lose weight fast, keeping the weight off after the 7-day plan, is the really difficult part. It’s likely the weight will creep back on once you return to your old eating habits so in the long run it isn’t sustainable."

IS IT HEALTHY?

Lovisa says: "There’s no denying that cabbages are healthy. They’re packed with fibre, and antioxidants such as vitamin C which helps the body fight infections, but eating them for 7 days straight can be bland and not to mention malnourishing."

IS IT EASY TO FOLLOW?

Fundamentally, the guidelines are easy to follow. Cabbage soup can take around 30mins to prepare and you can make huge quantities band it’s cheap, which makes it appealing.

WHO SHOULD AVOID THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET?

Lovisa says: "While you’re on the cabbage soup diet it’s difficult to control blood sugar levels, so diabetics should avoid it completely."

WHAT ARE THE PROS OF THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET?

  • The rapid weight loss promise is attractive, especially ahead of a special occasion.

  • It won’t break your bank balance as cabbages are relatively cheap

  • Soup is quick and easy to make and can be seasoned with herbs and spices.

WHAT ARE THE CONS?

  • It’s nutritionally unbalanced. Lovisa says: "Eating little else but cabbage soup for just seven days let alone longer, denies your body of essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B and healthy fats which are needed to sustain a healthy diet."

  • It may not be fat that you’re losing. "Whilst on the diet, it may be well be the case that you’re lose water weight rather than fat, because it’s hard to burn fat calories in such a short period. This means your weight loss could be misleading and you’re likely to gain weight even faster once you return to your normal eating habits," says Lovisa.

  • There are numerous short-term health implications. Dieters have reported dizziness, vomiting and stomach pains and flatulence due to the lack of protein in their diet.

  • It’s monotonous. Eating the same food day in, day out, can leave you feeling cranky and miserable throughout the day.

DOES THE CABBAGE SOUP DIET WORK?

Whether you love or loathe cabbage, there’s no doubt that eating nothing else but cabbage-soup for seven days is no healthy way to lose weight, so we feel like it's a bit of a fad.

Lovisa says: "The immediate effects of the cabbage-soup diet can seem attractive, but I would never recommend it as a way to lose weight. A diet should be part of a lifestyle change to help you maintain a healthy mind and body, not a quick fix that could damage your health afterwards. "Harsh diets never provide a long-term solution and the rapid weight gain afterwards would cause more harm than losing any weight in the first place, as you would be yo-yo dieting and this could cause serious medical problems in the future."

Have you ever tried the Cabbage Soup diet? Did it work for you? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter @Closeronline

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