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The Cabbage Soup Diet

The Promise

It's like the grandmother of all crash diets. The cabbage soup diet is a very low-fat, low-calorie plan that you follow for 7 days. It’s meant to help you lose weight quickly. And it's been around forever!

Fans claim you can drop 10 pounds or more in a week. Some people use it to kick-start their weight loss plan, or to trim a few pounds for a special event.

But before you stock up on cabbage, know that this crash diet won't help you in the long run, and it doesn't give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Does It Work?

You'll lose weight, but only in the short run.

You'll likely get less than 1,000 calories per day on the limited menu. That's far fewer than the 2,000 daily calories recommended for the average adult.

Since you're getting so few calories, the pounds come off quickly. Mostly you'll lose water weight. Chances are you'll gain it all back as soon as you start eating a normal diet again.

Expect to feel very hungry, not to mention cranky, while on the diet. You may also get light-headed if you're not taking in enough calories to fuel your body.

If you follow the cabbage soup diet for more than a week, you could run short on key nutrients. It may also make health conditions worse. For example, somebody with diabetes could have trouble controlling their blood sugar.

Health experts don't recommend following very low-calorie diets unless you're under a doctor's care. A better bet is to aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week on a healthy, well-balanced diet.

What You Can Eat

Just like the name says, the bulk of this diet is fat-free cabbage soup, eaten two to three times a day with other allowed foods assigned each day. Here's what you can add:

  • Day 1: Fruit, except bananas
  • Day 2: Vegetables like leafy greens (not starchy), but no fruit
  • Day 3: Fruits and vegetables
  • Day 4: Bananas and skim milk
  • Day 5: Beef (or baked chicken without the skin) and tomatoes
  • Day 6: Beef and vegetables
  • Day 7: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juices, and vegetables

There are different recipes for the soup, which is recommended every day of the diet. They all have similar ingredients, such as tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, and bouillon.

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