Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Cabbage Soup Diet

The cabbage soup diet is a short term fast weight loss plan that claims you can lose 10 pounds in a week. Its origins are unknown but it seems to have come into circulation in the 1980s.

What Is Involved?

You eat unlimited cabbage soup for a week, plus certain other foods. A typical plan goes like this:

Day 1: cabbage soup and fresh raw fruit (except banana and coconut).

Day 2: cabbage soup, non-starchy vegetables and 1 baked potato.

Day 3: cabbage soup, fruit (except banana and coconut) and non-starchy vegetables.

Day 4: cabbage soup, skim milk and bananas (maximum 8).

Day 5: cabbage soup, tomatoes, beef (maximum 20 oz).

Day 6: cabbage soup, non-starchy vegetables, beef (unlimited).

Day 7: cabbage soup, unsweetened fruit juice, non-starchy vegetables, brown rice.

You can have as much of the named foods as you want, except where a portion size is specified. You can eat as often as you want. You must not use any oils, salt or anything else that is not on the list. No drinks except water.

To make cabbage soup, just boil plenty of cabbage for 10-15 minutes in enough water to cover it, remove from the heat for a few minutes and blend with a hand-held blender. On days when you are allowed other vegetables you can add onions, herbs, celery etc.

On beef days you can cook the beef in the soup if you want, or buy steak and grill it, or toss ground beef in a frying pan in a little water.

Why Does It Work?

Drastic calorie reduction for the 7 days of the diet will produce weight loss, although much of the loss is due to water.

To lose one pound of fat you have to eat 3500 fewer calories than the amount that would maintain your weight. This means that to lose one pound in a week you would have to eat 500 calories per day less than your maintenance calorie level. To lose 10 pounds of fat in a week you would have to eat 5000 calories per day less than your maintenance level. Since most people's maintenance level is a lot less than 5000 calories a day, this is impossible. That is how we know that a large weight loss in a short space of time is mainly water loss.

However, even water loss will result in you looking thinner. Water retention makes us look bloated. So if you do not go back to eating a lot of salt and processed foods, you may be able to maintain the loss.

Cabbage is a low calorie, high fiber food so it will make you feel full without weight gain. This makes it easier to stick to the diet. It is also a very nutritious food. It contains a surprising amount of protein as well as minerals and vitamins.

The diet follows food combining principles, not mixing starches with proteins or fat with fruit. This is claimed by some people to make the food easier to digest and help you get the maximum nutrition from it.

If we had no imported food we would tend to eat a lot of the same vegetables and fruits for a time while they were in season, so this may be a very natural way to eat.

Any Negatives?

The main problem, as with all short term diets, is that most people put the weight right back on again as soon as the diet is over. You will need to change your eating habits to keep it off, and you will need another diet plan to follow afterward if you want to lose more than 10 pounds.

You may become very tired of cabbage soup, although if you have never had it before, you will probably be surprised how good it tastes (especially when you are hungry). Changing the permitted foods each day provides some variety but not nearly as much as we are used to. Boredom is likely to be a problem.

It may be difficult to follow this diet if you need to take your lunch to work and do not have anywhere to warm your soup. You will want more than you can fit in a vacuum flask. Some days, you could eat fruit during the day instead. On other days this is not possible.

It is possible that eating huge quantities of cabbage may have some negative consequences for health. This should not be a problem in 7 days but staying on this diet any longer is not recommended. You should see your doctor before starting the cabbage soup diet or any other weight loss plan.

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