Will the cabbage soup diet help you lose weight? Here’s the real truth


The popular Cabbage Soup diet is a short-term diet which focuses on consuming large amounts of cabbage soup. People who have tried it have reported incredible results, with some of them losing up to 4.5 kg. in a week! Many experts are saying that the diet is unhealthy and the lost weight will shortly return. So, does it really work?

The Cabbage Soup Diet is a fast weight loss diet. Supposedly, following the diet for seven days can lead to weight loss of up to 10 lbs (4.5 kg). The diet works exactly as it sounds. For seven days, you eat almost nothing but homemade cabbage soup. Each day, you can also have one or two other foods, such as skim milk, fruit or vegetables.

Many sources claim the diet works not by acting as a starvation diet, but rather because cabbage is such a low-calorie food that your body ends up burning more calories digesting it than the cabbage itself contains. Therefore, the more soup you eat, the more weight you lose.

The diet is intended to last no longer than one week at a time, for the purpose of slimming down before an event or jump-starting a longer-term diet plan.

The Cabbage Soup Diet is also known by other names, such as the Sacred Heart Hospital Diet or the Mayo Clinic Diet, supposedly because it was developed in a hospital for quick weight loss before surgery for heart patients. But the implicated hospitals have denied these claims. No one knows exactly where this unique diet originated from. In the end, the consensus seems to be that it first gained popularity during the 1980s and 1990s and has stuck around ever since.



  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 2 large onions
  • 1–2 bouillon cubes (optional)
  • 6–8 cups water or vegetable cocktail such as V8


  • Chop all the veggies into cubes
  • Sauté the onions in a bit of oil
  • Add the chopped veggies and pour the water/ vegetable cocktail and the bouillon cubes over them
  • Bring to boil and then simmer for about half an hour or until the vegetables are tender
  • Season with pepper, hot sauce, herbs, spices, or salt (optional)

Rules of the diet

Besides the soup, you’re allowed to eat 1-2 other low-calorie foods in addition. It’s very important to drink only water or unsweetened tea for the duration of the diet, as well as taking a multivitamin supplement. Here’s the diet plan

Day #1

Unlimited amounts of cabbage soup and fruit, except bananas.

Day #2

Consume only soup and vegetables, and try eating raw or cooked leafy green vegetables. You can also consume a baked potato with some olive oil and butter.

Day #3

Eat as much fruit and veggies as you want besides the soup, but avoid eating bananas or baked potatoes.

Day #4

On the 4th day, you can eat as much cabbage soup, bananas and skim milk as you like.

Day #5

Consume 280-570 gr. of beef, chicken or fish besides the soup, as well as 6-8 tomatoes. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water.

Day #6

Eat cabbage soup, beef and vegetables, focusing on leafy green vegetables.

Day #7

On the last day of the diet, you can consume as much cabbage soup as you like, as well as vegetables, brown rice and fruit juice.

End the diet immediately after the seventh day, and wait for 2 weeks before repeating it again.

Does the Cabbage Soup Diet Work?

The Cabbage Soup Diet has never been studied before, so it is not possible to truly confirm its effectiveness. Yet because the Cabbage Soup Diet is very low in calories, it will probably cause you to lose weight. Despite the fact that you are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of soup and certain other foods during this diet, the choices are so limited and low in calories that it would be very difficult to eat enough to maintain your body weight.

Unfortunately, although the Cabbage Soup Diet will probably help you lose weight, most of that weight is likely to come back as soon as you stop the diet. A big problem with very-low-calorie diets like this one is that when calorie intake is restricted, or when you lose a lot of weight, your body responds by lowering your metabolic rate, meaning you burn fewer calories per day than you used to.

Interestingly, this lowering of metabolism is the common cause of weight loss plateaus in longer-term diets. However, your metabolism may start to slow down as early as three days into a very-low-calorie diet. This is often part of the reason why it is so hard to prevent weight gain after stopping a crash diet.

Nevertheless, very-low-calorie diets also have some benefits. When obese people use very-low-calorie diets under the supervision of a doctor, the diets typically last 4–12 weeks and can cause significant short-term improvements in weight loss and metabolic health. But a few studies have shown that even short-term diets that are very low-calorie can temporarily decrease insulin resistance, even though they are too short to produce large changes in body fat.

Another potential positive of the Cabbage Soup Diet is that you are not forced to go hungry. You may eat as much as you want of the foods that are allowed each day. The diet also includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in fiber. Yet despite this, it may be difficult to eat enough to stay full since the choices are so limited and repetitive.

Another positive point is that the Cabbage Soup Diet is very cheap to follow. Unlike other diets that require you to purchase expensive supplements or books, this diet only requires you to purchase the low-cost ingredients for the cabbage soup and a few other basic foods.

5 safety and side-effects

  • Too low on calories

Although it won’t starve you, the foods in the diet are very low in calories – it’s hard to get to even 1000 calories a day. This is far below the daily minimum of calories, which are 1200 calories for women and 1500 for men. Low-calorie diets usually have only about 800 calories per day and are recommended for obese people.

  • Not enough nutrients

The foods in the Cabbage Soup diet very unbalanced – they don’t contain protein and are lacking numerous essential nutrients. Following the diet for a week will increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but it’s best to take a multivitamin supplement. Even then, the diet still doesn’t offer protein and calories, which is why you might feel lightheaded and dizzy for the duration of the process.

  • Flatulence and cramps

As the foods in the diet contain a lot of fiber, many people have reported flatulence and cramps as side-effects, which can be reasons enough to stop the diet.

  • Gallbladder problems

Some people on the diet have reported gallbladder problems and blockages. Any fast weight loss diet may also cause gallstones. When you’re on a normal diet and regularly consume high-fat foods, the gallbladder releases digestive juices to break down the food, but if your diet lacks fat, it may not empty for a longer period, increasing the likelihood of gallstones.

  • Changes in your blood sugar levels

You shouldn’t follow the Cabbage Soup diet if you’re suffering from diabetes, as the low carb and calorie foods can cause a change in your blood sugar levels. However, the diet shouldn’t cause any adverse side-effects in healthy people.