Is cabbage fattening or good for weight loss?

Cabbage is not only delicious, it is very nutritious too, being an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese and calcium. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used when preparing soups, salads and a whole load of other tasty recipes.

But what about when you are trying to lose weight – should you still be eating cabbage? The short answer: absolutely! Cabbage is a very weight loss friendly food that you should not fear eating. Read on to find out exactly why cabbage can be beneficial for weight loss.

What causes weight gain?

Even though weight management can be a fairly complex subject, at its core it can be summarised by a short and simple equation: calories in – calories out.

‘Calories in’ represents the energy that you introduce into your body via the food that you eat. All foods have calories, which comes from the protein, carbohydrates and fat (also known as the 3 macro-nutrients) that make them up.

Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, whereas fat has 9 calories per gram. This is why fat rich foods (like nuts) have far more calories than other types of food.

‘Calories out’ represents the energy that your body burns throughout the day. Even whilst at rest, your body is burning energy to keep itself alive; this is referred to as your basal metabolic rate. And the more active you become, the more calories you burn.

If the result of the calories in – calories out equation is a positive number, it means you are consuming excess calories. Your body will store these excess calories as fat, which is what leads to weight gain in the long run.

The opposite is also true; if you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body will be forced to make use of its fat stores as a source of energy. Over time, this results in weight loss.

Calorie requirements can vary greatly from person to person, depending on age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. For this reason, we created the tool below to help you to calculate a fairly accurate estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 30 year old lady who weighs 80 kg (176 lb), is 165 cm tall and exercises 3 – 5 times a week should aim to consume approximately 2350 calories to maintain her weight, 1900 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight fast.

So how does cabbage fit into all of this? Well, because cabbage is made up of more than 90% water (which has 0 calories), it is very low in calories. In fact, a cup of chopped raw cabbage only has 22 calories. The same is also true for red cabbage, which has 28 calories per cup.

This means that even on a 1400 calorie diet (which would be considered low), a cup of cabbage would amount to less than 2% of total daily calories. So no matter what your calorie requirements are, you can eat large amounts of it without having to worry too much about it causing weight gain.

How cabbage can be beneficial for weight loss

Besides being low in calories, cabbage is also a good source of fiber; a cup of chopped cabbage will provide you with around 2 g of dietary fiber. Studies such as this one have found that making a simple change to one’s diet – eating more fiber – can be beneficial for weight loss.

One possible reason for this is because when fiber is eaten, it absorbs water to form a thick gel that slows down the movement of food through the digestive system. This helps to keep you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time and may prevent overeating later on in the day.

Another benefit of cabbage is its high water content. Most people are chronically dehydrated but mistakenly think they are hungry. As a result, they reach out for food rather than a glass of water. The great thing about eating water rich vegetables like cabbage, cucumber and spinach is that they help to keep your body hydrated.

Cabbage is a versatile ingredient that can be used in all kinds of weight loss friendly recipes. For example,¬†‘cabbage rolls’ are a low calorie meal option that have become increasingly popular, especially among people who are trying to lose weight.

Preparing them is simple; you boil some cabbage leaves, fill them with fillings of your choice (like other vegetables, lean meat, beans or fish) and then bake them in the oven. This makes for a much healthier option than deep fried eggs rolls.

Can cabbage cause weight gain?

Any food if eaten in large enough quantities can cause weight gain. This once again is simply because you will be consuming more calories than you burn.

However, because cabbage has so few calories, it would be extremely difficult to eat large enough quantities for it to result in weight gain. Even after having eaten 5 cups of cabbage, you would only have consumed a little more than 100 calories.

One point I would like to mention is with regards to sauerkraut, which is prepared by fermenting finely cut cabbage in brine. There is no doubt that sauerkraut is very nutritious; some of the benefits of eating it include improved digestion and a boosted immune system.

However, sauerkraut is high in sodium, which if consumed in excess can lead to water retention. And whilst water retention is not the same as fat gain, the numbers will still show when you step on a weighing scale. So if you enjoy eating sauerkraut, continue doing so (even everyday), but just be sure not to overindulge.


Cabbage is a weight loss friendly food that should definitely be a part of your diet. Together with cabbage, be sure to eat as many of the vegetables on this list as you can, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

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