Is the cabbage soup diet safe?

November 12, 2012

Is the cabbage soup diet safe?

Is the cabbage soup diet an effective way to lost weight, or just another quick-fix fad?

The cabbage soup diet is a popular fad-diet which, supposedly, gives guaranteed outstanding weight loss results. The diet works by severely restricting what can be eaten by the dieter over a seven day period. For five out of the seven days only the cabbage soup, raw vegetables and fruit may be consumed; on days five and six some beef or steamed fish may also be eaten. There are a number of flaws to the cabbage soup diet – not least that healthy eating should be a lifetime strategy and that permanent weight loss takes time, there is really no such thing as a quick fix for weight loss.

Nutritional deficiencies

Any diet, not just the cabbage soup diet, which focuses on one type of food, will mean a deficit of essential nutrients. A healthy, well balanced diet, which is the key to good health and weight, will include a wide variety of foods from all the food groups in order that the body receives all of the essential nutrients it needs to correctly function. The cabbage soup diet lacks protein, healthy fats, calcium and iron. Some nutritional values may be maintained by cooking the soup for a short time in order to preserve the vitamins and fibre present in the vegetables.

Fluctuations in weight

It is perfectly possible for a dieter to lose several pounds during the first week of the cabbage soup diet – however, any weight lost is generally quickly regained and added to once the diet is finished. This is the definition of ‘yo-yo’ dieting which is recognised as being extremely unhealthy. Successful weight loss means making permanent changes to bad eating habits which may have taken a long time to develop. Losing around one to two pounds per week should be the aim of any diet. Fad diets such as these are impossible to follow for longer than a few weeks at the most.

Muscle and bone mass loss

The unbalanced nature of the cabbage soup diet means that it lacks the essential nutrients required for good muscle and bone health – the diet may even mean the loss of muscle rather than the loss of fat. This particular diet lacks the necessary vitamins, minerals and fatty acids essential for good bone growth and muscle mass.

Upset stomachs!

As the name indicates the cabbage soup diet involves consuming high levels of fibre – which, in many dieters, causes frequent bowel movements, pain and gas – whilst these symptoms are not serious side effects they are, nonetheless, uncomfortable to live with and may even be regarded as being somewhat anti-social.

High blood pressure

Most versions of this diet include the consumption of large amounts of artificial stock cubes/soup mix/bouillon all of which have high levels of salt. Too much salt is a known risk factor for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke; it may also lead to water retention and a corresponding weight increase.

Using low-salt vegetable juice in place of the recommended stock cubes and using herbs to season the soup are ways in which the sodium levels of this diet can be reduced.

Heart disease

It is well recognised that a sedentary lifestyle is one which carries with it a high risk of cardiovascular disease, a healthy lifestyle not only means eating a well balanced healthy diet with a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups, it also means including at least moderate levels of exercise on a regular basis. The cabbage soup diet does not meet any of these criteria.

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