The cabbage soup diet does not seem to be owned by any particular author or company and this seems to be the reason why a lot of variations of the original diet exist. There is one website that keeps popping up at the top of Google search results if you look for "cabbage soup diet". While this site does seem a bit too commercial for my taste (lots of affiliate links and an after-diet hypnosis product offerings), it still does seem to offer enough free information about the actual diet to be considered a solid reference.
Anyway, the promise of the cabbage soup diet is that you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of weight in 7 short days, so in this article I'll take a closer look at the cabbage soup diet (and the promise behind it).
But before I go into more details, I just want to translate the "you can lose up to 10 pounds" promise. You should always read claims like that as "you can lose anywhere between 0 to 10 pounds, while the result for an average person will probably be much closer to 0 than 10". But if we look past the usual hype about possible weight loss results, the cabbage soup diet actually does have the potential to help you lose a couple of pounds.
Now, let's take a closer look at why the cabbage soup diet plan can actually work for you.
Why does the 7 day diet plan work so well?
Without going into too much detail, the cabbage soup 7 day diet plan allows you to consume unlimited amounts of home-made cabbage soup - with the addition some very low-fat foods like fruits, vegetables, skim milk and lean meats (but those are only allowed to be consumed on certain days in very small quantities).
The ingredients for the cabbage soup are: onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, celery, seasonings and of course, a whole lot of cabbage.
The whole cabbage soup diet plan is actually based on a great idea of using low calorie-per-volume foods to provide a good feeling of satiation while keeping your calorie intake low. Even though the program allows you to eat unlimited quantities of the cabbage soup, you'll never be able to eat too much of it.
The ingredients of the cabbage soup are so low in calories that your limited stomach capacity will make it pretty much impossible for you to swallow down too many calories (which is one of the biggest advantages of these kinds of diets).
And because you're eating the same thing day in and day out, the luxury of being able to eat "unlimited" quantities of the soup will quickly become less and less appealing to you. In other words, you will probably become sick and tired of the soup way before you hit the 7 day mark - which brings us to the disadvantages of this diet.
The disadvantages of the cabbage soup diet
Like I said, the cabbage soup diet can quickly become too monotonous even though you're allowed to eat some other lean foods as well (in very limited amounts).
The lack of food and taste variety on any weight loss diet usually leads to people falling off the wagon way before the finish line. And even for those who actually make it through, the monotony can make those 7 days feel more like 7 weeks.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the cabbage soup diet doesn't offer a complete nutritional profile (it doesn't cover all of our daily needs for vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc.).
This is probably why people are advised to stick to the cabbage soup diet for only 7 days at a time - and told not to go on the diet again before spending at least 2 weeks eating what they normally eat. This suggests that the cabbage soup weight loss diet is indeed a short term "quick-fix" and not a long-term weight loss regime.
Ok, but just how well can the cabbage soup "quick-fix" actually work?
The typical cabbage soup diet results
The first thing you need to ask yourself with any weight loss diet, is where the weight you are supposed to lose will be coming from. Will you only lose water weight, or worse - lose some of your muscle mass? Or will you actually lose some of that stubborn body fat?
If you think that's not a problem, then I suggest you take a look at another article of mine that describes how it's possible to lose almost 20 pounds in just 24 hours (and gain it all back within the next two days).
The cabbage soup diet is a very low-sodium diet, because it specifically forbids using salt/sodium (and allows only low-sodium seasonings). I have already written an article about how sodium affects weight loss - and if my guesstimates are correct, you can lose up to 6 pounds of water weight (without losing any body fat) just because you're eating less salt than normally.
And what happens after you return to your normal diet? All that water weight will simply return in a couple of days.
Now, I am not saying that you won't be losing any body fat on a cabbage soup diet, I'm just saying you'll probably lose way less body fat than what you hope for. While the final results will depend on how much of the soup (or other allowed foods) you will actually consume, my guesstimate is that you will still be consuming upwards of 1,000 calories per day.
That unfortunately means you can consider yourself very lucky if you manage to lose 3 pounds of actual body fat, while I believe a more realistic number would be below 2 pounds of body fat.
Sure, the cabbage soup diet works, but so do all of the calorie-restrictive diets. While the soup itself is nothing special, the diet as a whole could definitely use some improvements in food and taste variety.
While the number on the scale might actually show a significant "up to 10 pounds" weight drop (especially if you are a fan of salty foods), it is probably unrealistic to expect anything beyond 2 pounds of actual body fat losses.
The cabbage soup diet is just another weight loss diet and while it does implement some useful concepts, far better diet plans can be constructed around the same idea.