5 Reasons Slow Carb kicks the Cabbage Soup Diet in the ass

I’ve done the cabbage soup diet. I’m not a write-about-it-but-never-do-it kind of guy. So, I know the endless slicing and dicing, the boiling, and the desperate search for some new kind of herb or spice that can make that soup taste different. But, the results may attract you nearer to the week-of-cabbage solution. If you’ve ever eaten cabbage, looked at a cabbage, or thought about losing weight eating soup, you need to read this list now!

The fast results of the Cabbage Soup Diet can be very attractive. ‘Lose 10lbs this week’ says Marie Clare so it’s not hard to see why tens of thousands of people turn to the cabbage soup diet to get a fresh look in less time. The idea of being able to trim down so fast are very appealing, and the allure of being able to repair a few months of parties, events and drinks is undeniable. Add to that the well-told story about it being used by a hospital for heart patients, and it seems practically recommended by the medical sciences.

But is it the best option if you’ve got some pounds to lose? Let’s take a look at how the cabbage diet stacks up against the slow carb diet


Reason 1. Practicality

The Cabbage Soup Diet could otherwise be known as the always cooking diet. Or, perhaps the ‘world’s largest pot’ diet. To quash hunger, and avoid intense hunger pains, you inevitably find youself reaching for some cabbage soup every hour or two. Do the math on how many bowls that is in a day, multiplied by an average cooking pot, and you’re either making batch after batch, or you’re cooking in an industrial kitchen.

Beyond the cooking aspects, with each day being different, there’s some careful planning that needs to go into this, especially if you work all day. The concept of ‘as much as desired’ makes it a little difficult to plan, considering each day has different food, so you’re unlikely to know how much you’ll want. And there’s nothing worse than hitting a wall at 3pm, with 3 hours before you’re home and realizing you might pass out unless you can get another serve of beef, or bananas, depending on what day it is. Oh, and let’s not get started on the mood swings that come from a low calorie, low carbohydrate diet. They’re not pretty. Simple put – don’t expect to be terribly tolerant of mistakes people make, things that don’t go your way, or, noises, in general.

The Slow Carb Diet gives you predictability, plus some simple guidelines to follow, and then you’re off to the races. You only need to eat a maximum of 4 times per day, and you have energy in the tank. So, work schedules can be accommodated, meals can easily be pre-cooked and packaged, or you can create meals on the go, from simple ingredients. If you use your commercial kitchen cooking pot, you’ll have a week worth of meals, not a couple of days.

Bottom line: Slow Carb wins, with predictability, ease of planning and moderate kitchen requirements.


Reason 2. Energy

There’s a point during the week, when you’re on the Cabbage Soup Diet, at which you realize you’ve never felt quite so tired before. Tired might be the wrong word. Fatigue is more accurate. But you’ve never felt fatigue in your bones before. This is where 1pm naps start looking appealing, or, if you’re not working one day, where 4 hours of TV viewing feels like 15 minutes because your brain is literally sleeping while your eyes are open.

If you need to do anything that involves movement, you’ll have a roller-coaster week as the cabbage soup and it’s odd daily friends doesn’t really cut it when it comes to energy for regular daily activities.

The slow carb diet, on the other hand, provides a steady and even flow of energy through the day. Especially if you’re able to eat around a 4 hour cycle, you’ll find that the digestion time, plus the food you’re eating, could leave you feeling more awake, more focused and clearer than you did previously. Not sure if there are many other diets around that can make that claim! Slow carb also provides you with an easy way to adjust if your energy levels aren’t what they could be – simply add in some more protein, more beans, or if you’re really busy one day, add an extra meal.

Bottom line: Expect to do a lot of housecleaning the week after cabbage soup, because you won’t be moving 1% more than is absolutely necessary while you’re in soup-territory. Slow carb wins hands-down with it’s steady dose of energy throughout the day, and gets a bonus point for being easy to fine tune.


Reason 3. Water Loss vs Fat Loss (pluActual Science vs Junk Science)

When a client comes to me and tells me they want to lose weight fast, the first question I have is ‘Is this for a bet?’. Why is that the first question? Because I have an arsenal of methods that can help someone lose weight, and fast. If their answer is ‘yes’, then we start manipulating factors that affect the body holding water, and we work on burning out glycogen stores too. This is because there’s anywhere from 4-8lbs stored in the body at any given time that can be manipulated in a matter of days. So, to win a weight loss bet, this is the best tactic.

If their answer is ‘no’, however, then we have a different conversation. Simply put, weight is a really crappy measurement to use, unless you need to know your weight for a specific reason, like riding a horse in a race, or testing the capacity load of an elevator. Weight is by no means an indicator of health, fitness, longevity, energy, mood or life satisfaction. Yet we constantly infer that weight has other meanings, which it doesn’t. So, once we agree that weight only determines how much gold they could balance against on a see-saw, then we talk about body fat and body fat percentage.

Long story short – the cabbage soup diet is pretty great at reducing water in the body. The main reason for this is because, relative to a typical western diet, the cabbage soup diet is particularly low in carbohydrate (‘low carb’ for those familiar with the lingo). Low Carb diets tend to help the body lose water. This isn’t a negative or positive thing, it’s just a fact. Part of the reason is that the body will use up stored glycogen in the body from the muscles and the liver, and for every gram of glycogen, it’s estimated there’s 3–6 grams of water stored. So, if you have around 400-600g of glycogen stored when you start, then you’ve go yourself around 5-12 lbs available to lose. And this can go quickly. But is it fat loss? Nope. Is it going to last? For as long as you eat a low carb diet. If you go back to bread, milk, potatoes, bagels, pasta and cereal, it’ll come back. That’s why measuring weight is pretty useless. Salt consumption affects water retention too. Bodybuilders avoid salt for at least a week or two before competition.

The random cycling with the cabbage soup diet between fruit, meat, bananas, and such doesn’t have a solid basis, it simply provides a very specific method to follow, which tends to result in people following it more closely for the week, than if it had the same foods each day. I will concede that due to severe caloric restriction on some of the days, it’s likely that there is some fat loss involved too, however this comes at a price (see Reason 4).

Slow carb also starts with some water loss, because it is lower in carbohydrates (but not low carb)  however it progresses with true fat loss, from week to week. The gains that some people see after cheat days are predominantly water gains that go away after a few days. Slow carb meals are made up of high quality, whole foods that can be prepared easily and taste great.

The slow carb diet is based on scientific research, real world results, and benefits from the detailed research work conducted by a number of well educated authors and scientists.

Bottom line: Slow carb knocks the Cabbage Soup Diet out of the park on this one.


Reason 4. The Rebound

This is a special category, because in no article online have I found a mention of what happens when someone finishes a week on the cabbage soup diet. It seems like they weigh themselves, record a massive loss, and then life carries on. No where have I found the details about the 4-8lb gain they make in the next week, if they go back to a regular western diet. In all likelihood, the water losses will rebound back to normal, as glycogen stores are replenished, and water is stored with them. The net result of all of this hoop-la may be a 1-4lb fat loss. Doesn’t really seem like it’s worth all the effort and mood swings when you look at it like that.

The slow carb diet suffers too from the water rebound, however, slow carb is a method that is intended to be used week after week, because it’s practical, workable, manageable and provides energy and predictability; two things that the cabbage diet fails miserably at. For this reason, the compounded fat loss, week to week, really adds up. And there’s another bonus that comes from this.

As the body loses fat, there tends to be an adjustment period, during which, the body is still striving to achieve ‘balance’. The body is always looking to achieve this balance (homeostasis) because it is the least-effort version of maintaining existence. So, for temperature, the body achieves homeostasis of core temperature by sweating, if the environment is hot, or by producing heat if the environment is cold (bonus points: when cold, the body is burning fat as well as food-energy). So too does the body have a good idea of the fat level is is maintaining on your body. When fat is lost, in the short term the body looks for ways to restore back to it’s balance point. If it is unable, and fat loss continues, then eventually, the body shifts its balance point to a lower body fat percentage, but this takes time.

Losing fat over a number of weeks and months helps shift the balance point lower, and set it there. Losing fat quickly in a week doesn’t result in a change, so the following week you’re likely to experience higher hunger than usual, and may be inclined to be less active. That’s the body trying to achieve it’s balance again.

Bottom Line: Any initial fast fat loss will have a rebound, so a lifestyle that leads to fat loss week after week is what’s needed for any meaningful results. Slow carb comes out on top, assuming it’s followed for a few weeks or more.


Reason 5. Learning Curve

Slow carb is the kind of lifestyle where you learn a few things, practice a couple of times and then set-and-forget. This makes day-to-day living this lifestyle simple and straightforward.

The Cabbage Soup diet offers you very specific items for each of it’s 7 days (if you last that long). One day you’ll be eating bananas like a monkey, the other day you’ll think you’re cooking burgers for a football team, there’s so much meat on your menu. Between the changing days, and the variations between cooking methods, and flavoring methods (to make the soup taste better than pond-water), you could easily need to carve out a couple hours a day to make it doable for you. That spells frustration, and the more frustrated you are, while you’re in a bad mood.. well the outcome isn’t likely to be uplifting or successful.

Bottom Line: Slow Carb scores a touchdown for simplicity, while the Cabbage Soup diet has you in class every day learning the next day’s specifics.


So is the Cabbage Soup Diet for you? Considering the complexity, lack of energy and good mood, and the results at that price, I would suggest you could do better elsewhere. Slow carb is a great option that can last you a month, 3 months, or a year or more, and truly change your body in a much more lasting way.

If you’re totally stuck and looking for a quick fix, I’ll have a post on that soon. And you can guarantee there won’t be any cabbage in sight.

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