What is the cabbage soup diet, and can it help me lose weight?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

The cabbage soup diet is generally considered a fad diet. As the name suggests, the diet requires that you eat large amounts of cabbage soup for a week. During that time, you can also eat certain fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken and brown rice, according to a set schedule.

Proponents of the cabbage soup diet say it's a good way to quickly lose a few pounds. You may lose weight on the diet because it drastically limits calories. But it may not be fat that you're losing. It might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it's hard to burn that many fat calories in such a short period.

Because the cabbage soup diet is low in complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, you shouldn't stay on it for more than a week at a time.

The cabbage soup diet has other disadvantages. Depending on the recipe for cabbage soup, the diet can be high in sodium. The large amounts of cabbage also can make you more prone to flatulence. Because you're not getting proper nutrition, you may feel weak or tired while on the diet. And once you stop the diet, it's easy to regain any weight that you lost.

Fad diets like this one may be tempting, but keep in mind that long-term weight loss depends on making lasting healthy changes in your eating and exercise habits.

Jan. 16, 2014 See more Expert Answers