Everyone wants to lose weight, but it can be challenging to decide which one will personally work best for you because there are so many diets.
In this article, we’ll discuss a diet that has been around for decades yet still is said to provide significant benefits—the fat-burning cabbage soup diet. It has also been called “military cabbage soup,” the “TJ miracle soup diet,” and the “Russian peasant diet,” among other names.
It’s a restrictive program that might be hard to stick to and may not produce long-lasting results. However, others have reported this diet to work exceptionally well for them.
How Does The Cabbage Soup Diet Work?
The idea behind the cabbage soup diet is simple: eat as much cabbage soup and water as you want for seven days straight. Those who follow the plan will also eat a few other low-calorie foods on specific days. This diet aims to fill you up on low-calorie soup and aid weight loss by stopping you from snacking between meals (3).
Fans of this diet claim that one can drop 5-10 pounds in a week by following the diet rules. People use this diet to kick start their weight loss plan or trim a few pounds ahead of a special event.
But before you cook this cabbage soup, you should know that this crash diet can’t provide a long-term solution for weight loss. Studies have proven that restrictive diets aren’t practical weight loss tools, and they only work in the short term, if at all (9). Furthermore, the cabbage soup diet doesn’t give your body all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Many people lose weight on this diet, but experts have shown that it’s usually due to dehydration and water weight loss. Research shows that there is a link between soup consumption and weight. Soup consumers have a reduced energy intake and better diet quality than non-consumers (11). If you want to lose weight long-term, you can include soup in a healthy well-balanced diet combined with daily exercise instead.
What Can You Eat On The Cabbage Soup Diet?
The foods on this diet are very restricted. On each day, you’ll consume a different type of food in addition to 2-3 bowls of your cabbage soup (4). Here are the foods you’re allowed to add:
- Day 1: Fruit, except bananas
- Day 2: Vegetables like leafy greens (no starchy vegetables or fruit allowed)
- Day 3: Fruits and vegetables
- Day 4: Bananas (no more than eight) and skim milk
- Day 5: Beef or baked skinless chicken and tomatoes
- Day 6: Beef and vegetables
- Day 7: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices, and vegetables
Vegetarians can replace beef with tofu or almond butter to get their protein, although many dieters eat more cabbage soup these days.
What Can’t You Eat On The Cabbage Soup Diet?
There are many foods you’re not allowed on the cabbage soup diet. You can’t have any starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, or beets—a big part of what makes up a balanced diet. Although fruits are allowed on certain days, you can’t eat bananas or dried fruit, and fresh fruit must be eaten in moderation. In addition to being very low-calorie and lacking essential nutrients, this diet is also very restrictive.
Is The Cabbage Soup An Appetite Suppressant?
One of the reasons behind water weight loss during these diets is that the fluids suppress your appetite (5). You’re consuming fewer calories than usual, so instead of eating enough food to keep your body running smoothly, you may lose water and electrolytes through sweat. However, your body will tell you it needs more energy to function correctly. Soon enough, you’ll feel tired and hungry again but not able to eat more.
Research shows that eating soup helps keep people feeling full after a meal compared to drinking fruit juice or water. However, it is possible that when the soup is consumed as a preload, the total energy intake might be more significant (soup + meal) (12).
Some variations of this diet allow for tomato juice or other non-cabbage-based soups on certain days in place of cabbage soup. These substitutions may help you feel less bored during dieting without sacrificing weight loss results; check with your doctor or dietitian before making any changes to the plan.
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How Many Calories You’ll Consume In A Day On The Cabbage Soup Diet?
It’s effortless to calculate: 2-3 bowls of soup, plus (on some days) a type of low-calorie food and a small amount of skim milk will provide around 1000 calories per day. This is less than half the calories needed by an average adult male (4).
The ideal calorie intake depends on your body and activity level. The number of calories you require will also depend on your lean body mass, activity level, and age. You’ll also want to consider any other special needs such as pregnancy or breastfeeding before starting a diet plan, and speak to your healthcare provider.
For a woman, around 2000 calories are recommended for weight maintenance (15). Many women will need less than this to lose weight, about 1600 calories per day is ideal for fat loss in most female adults.
For men, around 2500 calories should maintain weight (15). Men need about 1800 calories to lose weight and keep it off.
Using the general recommendations above for calorie intake per day based on gender and body type (including exercise levels), we can see that this diet provides insufficient calories to most people; it’s only about 20-40% of what is recommended if eaten every day over a week.
So cutting your intake by 2/3 can’t be good for you. The cabbage soup diet might lead to muscle wasting, especially if you’re not eating enough protein on the days where it’s allowed (days 4-6).
Other Risk Factors Of The Cabbage Soup Diet
You are starved during this diet, so there’s a risk of hunger or cravings causing bad food decisions (4). This could result in bingeing on junk foods when the diet is over.
During this diet, your body won’t be getting enough of certain nutrients and vitamins. You’ll only get a small amount of fiber during this diet, and your risk for constipation increases without other dietary fiber sources. Many diets also reduce calcium intake, leading to bone loss since calcium helps keep bones strong.
There are some hidden dangers in this diet as well. Salt intake will increase dramatically since many recipes call for adding lots to bring out the flavor in foods. Excessive salt consumption can cause hypertension over time, a buildup of pressure on the artery walls that causes high blood pressure (10).
What Happens When You Quit The Cabbage Soup Diet?
Your body might begin to crave the foods you were deprived of during this diet when it’s over. This can result in a binge or even an eating disorder if your desire for food becomes extreme.
Is The Cabbage Soup Diet Safe?
There are hundreds of success stories and testimonials from those who have tried this diet. There are some reports of losing as much as 10 pounds in one week, a tremendous amount for anyone looking to lose weight safely and permanently. Even so, it would be best if you kept this diet in perspective.
The USDA recommends a 1500 calorie a day diet for safe weight loss (1). The cabbage soup diet doesn’t provide enough calories to keep your body healthy and functional.
Furthermore, the CDC recommends losing no more than a pound or two a week gradually until you reach your desired weight. Rapid weight loss is not safe or permanent. There’s a high likelihood of gaining the weight back once you get off the diet (7).
Although we don’t have evidence that this program is unsafe, it’s not recommended for anyone with health conditions like diabetes or heart disease. It could also be dangerous if you’re taking medication like insulin or blood thinners. In addition, this diet might not be safe if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor before starting any low-calorie diet plan.
With that in mind, If you’d still like to give this way of eating a go, here’s a 7-day diet fat-burning cabbage soup recipe.
The Fat Burning Cabbage Soup Recipe (2)
There are many different versions of this recipe. The difference in spices and herbs used has a minimal impact on the results of this diet.
It doesn’t really matter which version of the cabbage soup diet you go for (serve yourself four times per day plus snack), as long as the calorie intake stays below 1000 cal per day and you don’t eat anything else except for that.
- 5 carrots, chopped
- 10 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 onions, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 ounce dry onion soup mix
- 15 ounce cut green beans, drained
- 16 ounce whole peeled tomatoes
- 14 ounce can beef broth
- 2 quarts tomato juice
- 1 large head cabbage, chopped
- Place the cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, green beans, and celery in a large stockpot.
- Add the tomato juice, beef broth, onion soup mix, then cover with water. How much water you use is up to you.
- Allow the mixture to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
The average preparation time for this soup is about 45 minutes. Remember to properly wash all your vegetables before chopping them into small pieces. You can add some salt to taste but don’t put in too much salt as excessive consumption is harmful to your health. You can also use purchased pre-shredded cabbage in place of the total cabbage health. And if you are a fan of red cabbage or mushrooms, you can add some to this recipe.
Calories per serving: 90 kCal
Macros: Carbs 20.7g, Protein 4g, fat 0.5g, sodium (Na) 483.1mg
Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes
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How To Make This Diet Work?
Although the cabbage fat-burning soup 7-day diet can be hard to stick to, it’s still a form of calorie reduction that may stimulate weight loss. No specific research studies have looked into the efficacy of this diet. However, many studies have proven that reduced-calorie diets can help promote weight loss.
Here are some tips to make the fat burning cabbage soup diet a success:
Prepare your soup in batches ahead of time; this can help you reduce the temptation when it’s time to dig in. Research links meal planning to healthier diets and less obesity, so it is a good habit to get into (8). Make sure the soup is low-cal and nutrient-rich by using healthy fats and avoiding calorie-packed additives.
Get plenty of fluids from water throughout the day; this can also help suppress your appetite, so there’s less chance of accidentally overeating (5). This diet encourages you to take up to 8 glasses of water each day.
Focus on getting more exercise throughout the week; this can help you maintain muscle tissue that helps burn calories (6). Try 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, like walking or cycling. Work out at a moderate intensity for the best results.
It’s essential to listen to your body while exercising during this diet. Remember, the cabbage soup is very low-calorie, and you might not have enough energy for intense workouts.
Get plenty of sleep each night; sleep deprivation can increase your appetite and make it harder to stay on track and reach your goals (13). According to Harvard Medical School research, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to function optimally.
Ask For Help
Get support from friends or relatives who are also dieting if necessary; they may be able to encourage you when you start craving junk food again after the 7-day cabbage soup diet is done.
Less Frequent Meals Can Be Another Option To Help Curb Cravings
If you’re struggling to stay on a low-calorie diet because of cravings, it might be helpful to change how often you eat. By spacing your meals further apart instead of eating three times a day, you can help keep your appetite under control and delay hunger (14). Try going for two to three meals per day.
The Bottom Line
The cabbage soup diet is not safe for everyone because it’s deficient in calories and could cause health concerns like malnutrition if followed over time with no other food sources added. For a short-term weight loss program, this diet may help you quickly shed some pounds. However, it’s essential to talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian before starting any new eating plan.
Remember that a proper diet is not everything you need. Supplement it with this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines (2015, health.gov)
- Cabbage Fat-Burning Soup Recipe (n.d., allrecipes.com)
- Cabbage soup diet: Can it help with weight loss? (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Cabbage Soup Diet Review: Ingredients and Effectiveness (2020, webmd.com)
- Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Losing Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity (2020, cdc.gov)
- Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Quick weight loss: sorting fad from fact (2001, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sodium Intake and Hypertension (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Soup consumption is associated with a lower dietary energy density and a better diet quality in US adults (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What should my daily intake of calories be? (2019, nhs.uk)