The cabbage soup diet is an extremely efficient quick-fix diet for you to shed some extra pounds in one week. The diet is low in calories, high in fiber, and low in fat. It is a great kickstart for those wanting to lose weight.
When I was a kid, I remember my mum taking a cabbage soup diet a couple of times a year. It was so terrible; the whole house smelled like cabbage for a week. But she did shred a few pounds, gained some confidence in her body, and could fit into an old pair of jeans.
As a nutrition coach, I usually don't recommend doing these crash diets. They are not sustainable, and often, the weight will bounce back if you continue eating the way you did before.
My view on the cabbage diet has, though, changed. I read about all the wonders and health benefits of cabbage. Cabbage really should be a part of your weekly diet! Maybe this cabbage soup recipe can inspire you to include more cabbage in your diet in the future.
So, my mum used a recipe that did not taste that good. I remember she used ready onion soup powder bags in her recipe, and those made the soup taste really fabricated. Of course, the whole family had to eat the soup...
I wanted to make a new kind of soup for you that has delicious herbs as spices. This recipe really boosts up your vegetable intake. You don't have to use this recipe just for dieting; it can be a really nice and light lunch or dinner. Great also to take with you for work in a hot thermos.
Origin of the cabbage soup diet
It is rumored that the cabbage soup diet was developed in 1988 in Loma Linda hospital, California. It was used for overweight and people with heart disease before the operation to lose weight. Overweight is a huge risk during an operation, so shedding some pounds reduces the risk of complications.
The cabbage soup diet is also sometimes called as the military diet.
Within years the soup diet became very popular. It cleanses waste products from your body. People love it because it makes you feel light, cleansed, and more motivated to lose weight. You have to see for yourself if this is true. Try at least the soup recipe for some light lunches.
Can you lose weight eating cabbage?
You can lose weight eating cabbage. 1 cup of cooked cabbage only has 40 calories. Cabbage is high in fiber, so all calories don't even absorb. Changing half of the food you eat per day to cabbage can help you lose 1 pound a week.
Let's say you eat a lot of cabbage but still have high-fat foods on your menu. Cheese, meat and processed foods, and alcohol keep you from losing weight. Instead, if you eat lots of veggies, healthy starches, and no processed food, you are on your way to weight loss success.
How about the soup for weight loss?
The cabbage soup diet helps you to lose up to 2 pounds of fat in one week. The diet limits calories, so you lose fat and water weight, so the actual weight loss in a week can be up to 10 pounds.
I did a survey and asked people how much weight they lost during the week. People who had significant overweight lost up to 7 kg in one week! this equals 15 pounds. Those who did not have so much overweight, to begin with, lost 1,5-2 kilograms in one week; this is 4,4 pounds.
Remember, these are just numbers on the scale, so I don´t know how much of this was water weight and actual fat. You have to lose about 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat. The average calorie consumption for a woman is 2000 calories a day. Suppose we reduce the calorie amount to 1000 a day. This way, it is possible to lose 2 pounds of fat in one week. Some strength exercises can also boost this a bit and make sure you don´t lose your muscle mass.
Does cabbage burn belly fat?
Cabbage is an effective belly fat burner if you don't eat any fats during the diet. Cabbage increases metabolism. Most people will lose belly fat first and notice some inches disappearing from the waist.
How many times a day do you eat the soup?
Eat the soup at least 2-3 times a day. The more the better. The cabbage soup can be a bit hard to eat in the morning if you are not used to a savory breakfast, so you can change that for a smoothie.
Who is the diet for?
- People who quickly want to shred a few pounds
- For those who want to fit in a small dress for a party.
- Those who are not too active.
- Perfect for inactive office workers
- People with a lot of overweight
Who should not be on the diet?
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding women
- Those who already are very skinny
- If you have a disease, check with your doctor.
- People who are very active and need much energy
- Those who strength train
Cons of the diet.
- Flatulence for some people
- Water weight comes back fast.
- Eating cabbage soup can get boring.
- Cabbage smells bad
- Low protein intake
- Hard to endure
- Feeling hungry
- Feeling weak because of low-calorie intake
What if you get flatulence?
Your body might not be used to all the fiber you are eating. Remember that flatulence is not dangerous. It just tells you your gut microbes are working and doing well. For some people, cruciferous vegetables cause more stomach cramps than others, so it is a good idea to start with smaller amounts. You can reduce the amount of cabbage and broccoli and increase other non-starchy vegetables.
For some people, the problem is not the cabbage, but the onions and garlic. Especially for people with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. You can make the first batch of soup without any onions and garlic and see how your tummy reacts to just the cabbage.
Health benefits of cabbage
- Reduces inflammation in your body.
- Rich in antioxidants, especially red cabbage.
- High in vitamin C.
- It has a lot of insoluble fiber, so it promotes a healthy gut microbiome.
- Helps with regular bowel movements.
- Reduces cholesterol levels.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Reduces sugar levels and risk of diabetes.
- Reduces risk of heart disease.
- Lowers cancer risk.
- Clears skin. Can help with acne and skin inflammations.
Weekly meal plan on the Cabbage Soup Diet
This is my version of the cabbage soup diet. I made some tweaks to the original cabbage soup diet for those parts that I dont think makes sense. Also a variety of foods is important so you get enough nutrients. If you only eat the soup it becomes very tiresome and then you will just grow a hate relationship to cabbage for eating it too much.
If you are wondering why some days you can eat rice, potato, or bananas and some days not, this is called carb cycling and boosts your metabolism. On day 5 in the original diet, you should eat 6 tomatoes, not sure why, so do it if you want to.
The original diet on day 5 is included some lean meat. Since this is a plant-based blog, I changed that to plant-based protein. On day 4 you can drink milk, but I don´t recommend animal products so drink some low carb fortified plant milk if you want to. Soy or almond milk are good choices. Even oat milk is ok if you don´t overdo it on the bananas.
But actually the point with this diet is that it is low calorie, so vegetables and fruits are the main part. The soup is because it is very simple to make and you don´t have to think about cooking so much. But if you get tired with the soup, then make whatever low calorie meals that are based on non starchy vegetables.
Shirataki noodles can be a good addition, they are really low in calories but fills your tummy, and you get some variation in your meals.
Remember you should only stay in this diet maximum one week.
What you should avoid
- Sugary juices
Of course, the list of foods to avoid is significant, so concentrate on the foods you can eat! I think one cup of coffee won't destroy your diet if that is really important for you. Alcohol is much worse.
Boost your metabolism
To boost up your metabolism and weight loss you can use some additional tricks from dr Michael Greger's book How Not To Diet. He shares scientifically proved weight loss boosters.
- Intermitting fasting. Try to have at least a 12-hour break in the night from eating. For example, have your last meal at 7 pm and first at 7 am.
- Preload your meal with water
- Vinegar. Use 2 teaspoons of vinegar at every meal. Use any vinegar to your taste. I like apple cider vinegar as a salad sauce with spices.
- Sleep. Enough sleep is really important, make sure you get 7-8 hours every night.
- Use weight loss boosting spices: Black cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
Meal plan for 7 days
Eat cabbage soup as much as you want to at every meal. You can also eat 1 tablespoon of chia or linen seeds every day.
Vegetables: Choose non-starchy veggies such as cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, artichoke, bamboo shoots, sprouts, lettuces, carrots, celery, onions, peppers, radish, squash and water chestnut. Even beetroot can be used.
Fruits: On days you are allowed to eat fruits try to eat more soup than fruits. Favor fruits that are high in water such as melon and pineapple. You can also eat berries.
Starchy food: Eat potato, rice and beans only on days that allow it.
Water: Drink water throughout the day. You can also enjoy herbal infusions and green tea.
In addition to soup, you can eat fruits and berries.
Tip of the day: Make a delicious fruit salad with a mix of different fruits and berries.
Soup and as many veggies as you want. You can also steam your veggies. No fruits, but you can eat 1 potato or one small sweet potato.
Tip of the day: start your day with the potato to boost your energy for work. You can also chop the potato and cook it with the soup you are eating today. Make a big salad. To get some variation you can have the soup as a starter and do a veggie wok.
All you want of soup, nonstarchy veggies and fruits.
Tip of the day: Snack some kale chips this evening
Soup, 3-4 bananas, non-starchy veggies all you want.
Tip of the day: Make a green smoothie in the morning with a banana, kale, and a piece of ginger. Add some chia seeds if you want to.
Soup and some protein. Add 1 cup of beans to your diet today. Eat 6 tomatoes
If you can't eat legumes then some other plant protein with no added oil.
Tip of the day: Make a tomato salsa of diced tomatoes, onion and fresh basil or cilantro.
Soup, 1 cup of beans and all veggies you want to.
Tip of the day: Instead of soup, make a curry from kale, veggies and legumes, and some Indian spices. Enjoy with a cauliflower mash.
Soup, and you can add whole grain rice to all your meals. Eat also all you want of nonstarchy veggies. You can also eat fruits.
Tip for today: Eat leftover curry with the rice. Steam some broccoli. Moroccan oranges are delicious as dessert; sprinkle some cinnamon on your peeled and diced orange bites.
After the diet:
After the week is complete, you should stop the diet and continue with a plant-based whole foods diet. A starch-based diet is great to continue with. For maximum weight loss, continue with 50/50 plates on the starch solution diet. Please read all about it in the starch solution diet guide.
Cabbage soup nutrition content
This whole batch of soup of 5 liters, 33 ounces, only has 431 calories. One portion is only 43 calories. So you could eat two big pots of this and still have eaten only 800 calories. So, the more you fill your tummy with this soup, the more you will lose weight.
One batch as in the recipe has:
5-25% of the nutrients are destroyed by cooking.
Cabbage soup recipe
Use cabbage as the main ingredient for your soup. Other nonstarchy veggies you can use in the soup are tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, artichoke, bamboo shoots, sprouts, carrots, celery, onions, peppers, radish, squash, and water chestnut.
If you want to meal prep for the week. You can cut up veggies ready for the next batch and freeze them.
In this recipe there is no oil, so you save some calories. During the week you can use some chia or linen seeds to get omega 3 fatty acids.
Why the cabbage soup tastes delicious? -Tomato base makes this taste Mediterranean and delicious with bell peppers and spices. The cabbage taste does not take over. Herbs and garlic give this so much flavor. It tastes light, and you can eat quite a lot of this. It has just enough heat from the smoky hot paprika, black pepper, and cayenne powder, but you can add extra heat from dried or fresh chili if you want to.
This soup would be great as a winter warming lunch also with some fresh baked bread, if you don't eat this as a diet soup.
You can do different spice worlds. This recipe is focused on herbs. A stock cube gives extra flavor. To get some heat, add cayenne pepper, chili, sriracha, or hot sauce. If you want Thai spices, use ginger, garlic, chili, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Indian spices can include garlic, ginger, cumin, clove, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom.
How to make cabbage soup in the instant pot?
Add onions and spices to the pot, use the saute function stir with a wooden spoon and mix with some water for 5 minutes. Then add all cut ingredients to the instant pot with water. Close the lid and put it on high for 10 minutes. Release then the pressure with the natural release method.
How to make the soup
Cut up all your veggies. It is good to cut them into equal size pieces so they cook at the same time. My preference is to make the onion into really small pieces. I don't like big cabbage pieces in my soup so I also cut it into quite small pieces or shreds. Carrots are diced into cubes.
If you have a food processor with a multi cutter blade, then you can use that to make everything evenly cut.
Heat your pan, saute the onion, garlic, vegetable bouillon cube, and herbs in some water.
Add in the rest of the ingredients. Add water so the veggies are covered and cook for 20-30 minutes until they are soft.
If you want to add leafy greens or fresh herbs, add them in the soup a few minutes before serving so they don't become mushy.
My experiences on the diet.
I have a job that is quite physical, so I decided to eat more calories. I did not want to feel fatigued at work.
Usually, in the mornings, I have eaten this self-made granola or some sandwiches with hummus and fruits. Now I made a green smoothie with apple, kale, some mango, and chia seeds. Surprisingly it kept my hunger away until lunch. Some days I also ate oat porridge with some fruits. At the weekend I just had a fruit breakfast.
I did drink coffee and tea.
I ate the soup 1-2 times a day. 1-2 portions. It was quite filling, but I would feel hungry after a couple of hours again. Some days I did eat 2 slices of bread with the soup. Several days I added some rice noodles in it, some chickpeas, or diced smoked tofu. This keeps the hunger away for longer and gave variation to the soup.
Salads were a part of my daily meals also.
I snacked mainly fruits every day.
In the evening, I snacked popcorn, kale chips, carrot sticks, and fruits. I also made a delicious strawberry-mango smoothie several evenings.
During the week I did not do any exercise.
The outcome. I did not lose so much water weight since I had my carbs quite high every day. In the week I lost 4 pounds of weight. I am pleased with the outcome. I have struggled to lose weight since I love to eat good food, and even though I have eaten a vegan diet for a year, I have eaten too many calories, so I know why.
Replacing some meals with the soup really helped to reduce the calorie amount of the day. I did not have to be hungry at all, since I could snack on fruits and veggies all I wanted.
Other low-calorie meals you might like:
Low-calorie bolognese. You can eat this with shirataki noodles during the cabbage soup diet.
Buckwheat salad. Buckwheat is really healthy. Replace your rice with buckwheat or make a mix of them.
Have you tried this diet? Please write below how much weight you lost!
Low-calorie cabbage soup
- 1 small cabbage 300 grams
- 3 bell peppers medium
- 3 large carrots
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 cans of tomatoes together 800 grams.
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ginger dried or fresh
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 bay leaves.
- Cut up all your veggies. Make them about the same size. Carrots can be a bit smaller since they cook the longest.
- Heat your pan, saute the onion, garlic, vegetable bouillon cube, and herbs in some water.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients.
- Add water, so the veggies are covered
- Cook for 20-30 minutes until they are soft.