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The Cabbage Soup Diet | What Is It & Why You Should Try It

The cabbage soup diet is one of the most famous “quick fix” diets. Although not suitable for a long-term lifestyle, it is credited with rapid weight loss over a short period of time. It skyrocketed to fame decades ago but has remained popular among those wanting to shed pounds quickly.

It has been claimed that the diet began in a number of high profile hospitals including the Mayo Clinic, but no select institutions have taken credit for its origin.

How does it work?

As you might guess, this diet is centred around cabbage soup. You can eat as much of the soup as you want while on the diet, as well as other restricted foods.

The recipe for the soup is:

  • 1 chopped head of cabbage
  • 6 regular white onions, chopped
  • 2 peppers, chopped
  • 1 celery bunch, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions/shallots, chopped
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 3 cans chopped tomato
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 crushed garlic cloves

This should make around 20 portions.

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The soup can be flavored according to your tastes. You are free to use any herbs and spices, as well as balsamic vinegar, more stock cubes and seasoning.

Spices are particularly advantageous for their health benefits. Cayenne pepper is great for maximizing fat burning, for example. Turmeric is a fantastic detoxing agent. Varying the soup is also beneficial to keep the diet interesting while eating fairly repetitively. Spices such as cumin can add a strong flavour to the soup that can make it taste like an entirely different meal.

In addition, when you are making the soup, dish it into Tupperware at different stages of the blending process. Having a choice between smooth and chunky textures can also add a degree of variance to the day to day of the diet.

Foods that are permitted in the cabbage soup diet include fruit, vegetables, milk, beef and chicken. However, the days they are permitted on varies.

The main aspect of the diet is that the soup is very low in calories. Eating it as the bulk of your meals will create a significant calorie deficit that will cause you to lose weight. The soup is packed with fat burning properties to help maximize this effect. Fans of the diet state that it can lead to up to 10lbs weight loss within a week.

Is it expensive?

One of the benefits of the cabbage soup diet is that it is very cheap to make. It can be batch made and frozen if needed. To further reduce costs, you can use frozen vegetables for the soup and on days where vegetables are permitted. In addition, frozen fruit can also be incorporated when that is allowed.


The cabbage soup diet is not advisable on a long-term basis. It is not nutritionally beneficial to take in such a restricted diet on a regular basis. Limiting your diet to such a level cannot be sustained successfully, and can lead to a full diet u-turn because of a build-up of cravings.

This diet should only be undertaken for 7 days at a maximum.

As a precaution, it is recommendable to take a multivitamin alongside the diet. This will ensure you can catch up on any vital vitamins and minerals that you may miss out of while you are doing the diet.

The diet is very low in protein and so is not suitable alongside a rigorous workout schedule. As you will be experiencing a calorie deficit, you will not be getting adequate fuel for your muscles.

Critics of the diet state that as the diet is highly restrictive and cannot be followed long term – its effects will not last and any weight loss will be regained. To ensure that any weight loss is kept off, it should be followed as a kick start to a healthy and balanced lifestyle in which any further weight loss or maintenance is done in a sustainable way.

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Cabbage soup diet plan

Day one: Unlimited cabbage soup and all fruit except bananas.

Day two: Only soup and vegetables, including 1 potato. In particular, fresh raw vegetables are encouraged.

Day three: Unlimited fruits and vegetables, in addition to the soup. However, no potato today and no bananas.

Day four: Unlimited bananas, skimmed milk and cabbage soup.

Day five: You are allowed up to 500g of beef, chicken or fish. You may also have up to six fresh tomatoes and unlimited cabbage soup.

Day six: Soup, beef/chicken/fish and vegetables. Leafy greens are encouraged today but no potato.

Day seven: You may have vegetables, brown rice, unlimited fresh fruit juice. As well as cabbage soup.

Throughout the diet, you should ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to remain hydrated and to ensure that you do not get any false hunger pangs. You should not feel hungry on this diet as that is very likely to lead to a strong temptation to give up the diet plan. Keeping a flask of soup handy to “snack” on the outside of your meals will really help you to stay on track.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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