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The cabbage soup diet is a radical weight loss diet designed around heavy consumption of a low-calorie cabbage soup over the time of seven days. It is generally considered a fad diet, in that it is designed for short-term weight-loss and requires no long-term commitment.[unreliable source?] It has inspired several copy-cats based around similar principles.
The typical claimed intent of the diet is to lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of weight in a week, though nutritional experts point out that it is nearly impossible to lose that much fat within a week. This has lent credence to claims that much of the weight lost is water.
The origins of the diet are unknown, and it first gained popularity as a piece of faxlore in the 1980s. The cabbage soup diet has many names, usually linking the diet to a mainstream institution, including the "Sacred Heart Diet", "Military Cabbage Soup", "TJ Miracle Soup Diet", and "Russian Peasant Diet". All of the institutions named have denied a link with the diet. As a general rule, most if not all forms of the diet emphasize that the dieter can consume as much cabbage soup as he/she wants.
Beverages are limited to water, and unsweetened fruit juice on days when fruit is allowed. This is a typical outline of the diet:
Many individuals and medical professionals are critical of the diet. Most of the weight lost is water and not fat, and therefore not permanent. The amount of calories per day while on the diet is far lower than what is considered safe. In addition, the recipe for the soup as often given has an extremely high sodium content, usually to make it palatable, and the diet provides practically zero protein for several days at a time. Many people report feeling weak and light-headed during the course of the diet.
On a practical level, the most common forms of the soup recipe have been criticized as being bland, though spicy variations have appeared. Even so, the blandness of the soup means that few manage the entire seven days, and often report feeling nauseous whenever they smell the soup toward the end of the week-long diet. It has also been noted that flatulence is a common side effect of the diet.