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Cabbage Soup Diet: The Definitive Guide for Rapid Weight Loss

Posted by Jason Feldman MS, RD on January 19, 2012

Cabbage Soup Diet: The Definitive Guide for Rapid Weight Loss

Despite the controversy that seems to always swarm around this negative calorie weight loss plan, the cabbage soup diet remains more popular than ever. However, it’s important to understand that the original cabbage soup diet — which debuted in the 1970′s — is not a practical or safe way to lose weight.

However, a new and improved version of the diet IS safe, healthy and effective over the short and long-term.

Cabbage Soup Diet: A Brief History

According to the book “The Cabbage Soup Diet”, the original cabbage soup diet was created in the 1970′s and circulated around fax machines and via word of mouth. That version of the diet recommended that people eat nothing but cabbage soup diet and fruit for 7 consecutive days. Although many people lost weight using this diet, that weight loss came with a laundry list of downsides, including:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Mostly water weight loss
  • Risk of dangerous electrolyte loss
  • Rebound weight loss
  • Irritability and loss of energy

With these issues, it’s no wonder that the medical and nutrition community slammed the diet for decades, citing safety concerns. However, many experts also report that the weight that one loses on this diet would quickly return as soon as 8th day began.

Fortunately, through extensive trial and error, new and improved versions continued to circulate. Lately, there’s been a paradigm shift that views the cabbage soup diet as an integral part of diet and wellness and not just a Band-Aid meant for rapid weight loss.

Cabbage Soup Diet 2.0

In the early days of the cabbage soup diet, you’d eat unlimited bowls of cabbage soup, certain fruits and limited amounts of lean beef and chicken. Unfortunately, this didn’t provide your body with enough essential nutrients, essentially dietary protein and certain vitamins and minerals –despite the fact that cabbage itself is very nutrient dense. The idea was that, even though the diet wasn’t particularly healthy, you only had to follow it for one-week. This “one-week and I’m done” approach made the cabbage soup diet popular for people looking to shed excess pounds right before a wedding or high school reunion. Unfortunately, the weight tended to creep back on as people resumed their normal diet and lifestyle.

Cabbage soup diet 2.0 takes the pros of the original diet an adds a number of important overhauls to make it significantly healthier and more effective for long-term weight control.

The first and most important addition to cabbage soup diet 2.0 is dietary protein. Early forms of the diet were extremely low in dietary protein, an important macronutrient that’s required for the healthy functioning of your immune system. Also, research published n the Journal of the American Dietetic Association notes that limiting protein during a diet can actually increase hunger. A number of studies clearly show that eating adequate dietary protein from healthy sources increases the output of a hormone known as CCK, which tells the brain that you’re full. Dietary protein may also increase the amount of calories you burn at rest, commonly known as your metabolism. Healthy sources of dietary protein to consider including into the cabbage soup diet include egg whites, black beans, lean cuts of skinless chicken, beef and fish. Protein can either be added to the cabbage soup directly, or you can eat it as a side dish to a large, steaming bowl of cabbage soup.

One other addition to the cabbage soup diet has been mounting research that voluminous foods promote fullness and satiety. This nutrition research has been spearheaded by Penn State’s Barbara Rolls, Phd. Her research consistently shows that volume-rich soup keeps you fuller for longer than foods low in volume and high in calories, such as chips and soda. This research has pushed many to toss other voluminous foods into their tried and true cabbage soup recipes, such as spinach, eggplant and broccoli. In fact, you don’t need to feel hungry or deprived while on the cabbage soup diet anymore thanks to these modifications.

Another important component that has been included in the cabbage soup diet based on science is the emphasis on exercise. The old diet never covered physical activity, a must for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance. Fortunately, the new cabbage soup diet strongly recommends that dieters get up and move during their diet. Not only does this keep the mind busy and away from junk food temptation, but it may curb appetite as well. If you do exercise while on the cabbage soup diet, make sure you include some form of strength training into your regimen. Studies show that strength training helps preserve muscle mass during weight loss bouts, something that was a major issue with the old cabbage soup diet.

cabbage soup diet Cabbage Soup Diet: The Definitive Guide for Rapid Weight LossYou’ll also want to eat an abundance of healthy, nutrient-rich produce while you follow the cabbage soup diet. It’s particularly important to eat antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, legumes and dark colored vegetables. A research study out of Taiwan’s National Chung Hsing University found that antioxidants may help boost body fat loss. Many cabbage soup diet followers also opt to take a multivitamin supplement during the diet to ensure that they get all of the nutrients that their body needs.

The new cabbage soup diet also has a significantly different time-frame than before. Instead of only sticking to the diet for 7-days, it’s advised to adopt the healthy dietary habits of the diet (eating plenty of healthy protein, volume-rich foods etc.) all the time. This way, you’ll be less likely to experience the yo-yo weight loss and gain that many fad diet followers experience.

Cabbage Soup Diet: Does It Still Work?

As you can see, many of the issues with the old cabbage soup diet have been addressed and fixed with this new and improved approach. It should be said, that with any diet, you should ask your physician about safety and efficacy concerns before adopting the cabbage soup diet.

With more protein, an abundance of healthy nutrients and a target for sustained weight control, it’s fair to say that the new cabbage soup diet barely resembles the old version that became the target for criticism from doctors and nutritionists.

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