Cabbage Soup Diet


Versions of this diet abound, with many claiming it was designed by a hospital (Sacred Heart, Mayo, etc.) for patients needing to lose weight quickly for surgery.  However, no hospital has ever stepped forward and “claimed” it as its own.  Over the last few years, several books have also been written offering up a variation of the plan as well such as The New Cabbage Soup Diet by Margaret Danbrot and The Ultimate Cabbage Soup Diet by Madeline Cooper.  While definitely not a long-term weight loss solution, it has remained a popular option for many who swear by the results.


You can lose up to 10 to 15 pounds in 7 days, by eating all the fat-free homemade cabbage soup you can stand, and by supplementing it with a small list of allowed foods on alternate days.


Participants are encouraged to eat as much of the homemade cabbage soup as they can stomach.  Doing so will not only stave off hunger cravings but ensure that they remain satisfied enough to stay on this low-calorie plan for the week.   

Program Overview

The Cabbage Soup Diet is a modified fast.  Participants ingest so few calories during the week that weight loss is bound to occur.   The meal plan is restrictive and you must follow the program to the letter.  There are many variations, depending on the source you consult, but here is one seven-day meal plan to give you an idea as to what to expect:  

Day 1: Homemade cabbage soup, plus any fruit, apart from bananas. 

Day 2: Homemade cabbage soup, plus other vegetables, including a baked potato with  butter for dinner (potatoes are off-limits on other days) 

Day 3: Homemade cabbage soup, plus other fruits and vegetables. 

Day 4: Homemade cabbage soup, plus anything up to six bananas and fat-free milk. 

Day 5: Homemade cabbage soup, plus 6 tomatoes and up to 450 grams of meat or fish. 

Day 6: Homemade cabbage soup, plus meat (beef) and vegetables. 

Day 7: Homemade cabbage soup, plus brown rice, pure fruit juice, and vegetables. 


Carbonated beverages, alcohol, and bread are not allowed on the plan.  

There are several variations of the homemade cabbage soup recipe as well. 

One variation is provided below:

Six large green onions

Two green peppers

1 or 2 cans of tomatoes (diced or whole)

1 bunch celery

1/2 head cabbage

1 package Onion Soup Mix

1 or 2 cubes bouillon (optional)

1 48 oz. can V8

Juice (optional)

Season to taste (salt, pepper, parsley, curry, garlic powder, etc).

Plan Strengths

Rapid weight loss is likely to occur given the limited number of calories ingested.  However, keep in mind that the weight lost may be nothing more than water and not fat.  

The program may also prove effective in terms of changing poor eating habits and can provide a great jumping-off point for a more moderate long-term diet approach.  Some studies also suggest that vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower have proven effective in preventing some types of cancer.

Plan Weaknesses

The biggest drawback of the Cabbage Soup Diet is that it is not a suitable long-term solution to weight loss.  It simply lacks the necessary good nutrition needed.  Most experts agree that ANY diet approach that allows for no more than 1,200 calories a day is going to be unsafe unless under a doctor’s care.  Given that you are probably only getting between 800 and 1,050 calories a day on the Cabbage Soup Diet, your body is definitely going to suffer from a lack of the needed nutrients.

Secondly, the diet is nothing more than a meal approach.  It provides no recommendations about exercise, how to affect long-term behavioral changes, or even how to change poor eating habits.

Participants would definitely have to have tremendous willpower to eat the same thing day in and day out, and given that many report the soup to be a bit bland, this may prove challenging!  

Some participants have also reported experiencing light-headedness, fatigue, weakness, and difficulty concentrating.  Gastrointestinal problems including gas were also experienced.  


Sure, you may very well rapidly lose that promised 10 to 15 pounds of weight, but unless you follow up with a more sensible program of nutrition and physical activity, expect the weight to creep back on once you return if you intend to return to your previous lifestyle.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

The Cabbage Soup Diet, WebMD

Cabbage Soup Diet, Wikipedia 

Truth About Cabbage Soup Diet