A Doctor Tells Us The Risks Of TikTok's Red Cabbage Juice Weight Loss Trend

The internet has always talked about weight loss trends and now TikTok has embraced this side of things with its 15-second- to three-minute-long videos. 

Something that's been making the rounds lately on the platform is the red cabbage and pears juice trend. Touted as being a liver-detoxifying drink that also aids weight loss, the red cabbage juice trend has enthusiasts blending up purple concoctions with fervency.

Red cabbage is inherently low in calories and contains a higher amount of antioxidants than green cabbage, per Healthline. It's rich in vitamin C and vitamin K and is also beneficial as an anti-inflammatory food that could aid gut health. The anthocyanins found in this purple vegetable are also great for heart health. Additionally, according to natural product chemist Dr. Dan Gubler on TikTok, anthocyanins are "amazing in stabilizing the body, protecting it from stressors, and helping it to function properly." 

Pears, too, are low in calories and chock-full of nutrients. They're a good source of fiber making them great for digestion and they are also a good snack for those with diabetes because of their low glycemic index (via Eating Well). 

While both ingredients put together in a healthy juice do sound like they could aid someone's weight loss journey, the danger really lies in practicing this trend as part of a starvation diet, according to weight loss specialist and CEO of Smart Dimensions Weight Loss Dr. Michael Russo.

Starvation diets aren't sustainable

A weight loss journey is about a lot more than sticking to just one type of food — or juice, in this case. While there is no harm in embracing the nutritious benefits of red cabbage and pears as a supplement to an already balanced diet, choosing it as your main meal plan might be a weight loss myth you should stop believing.

"This is a typical example of a fad diet," explained Russo. "Does anyone remember the cabbage soup, lemonade and maple syrup, or grapefruit diet? Did any of these stand the test of time? No. The reason is because they are purely starvation diets that cannot be maintained." Starvation diets aren't sustainable because they slow down your metabolism. The key to sustaining a low-calorie diet is to find one that's balanced and therefore sustainable — something that offers you all the nutrients your body needs.

According to Russo, the TikTok-famous red cabbage juice trend doesn't contain "all of the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies require to function in a healthy manner." Per the National Health Service, the recommended daily calorie intake for men and women is 2,500 and 2,000 respectively. If you want to lose weight, a healthy calorie deficit to go for, as recommended by WebMD, would be about 500 calories a day. With the red cabbage and pears juice trend, your daily intake would drop to less than 600 calories, according to Russo. "The amount of calories and macros you get in is far too low overall."

The red cabbage juice trend is deficient in B vitamins

In addition to being a starvation diet that can damage your body and mind in the long run, the red cabbage weight loss juice trend doesn't contain the all-important vitamin B. "While there are some small amount of vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, C, K, and iron, it's deficient in critically important vitamins, like B vitamins. A person can become ill or even die from these types of deficiencies," shared health expert Russo. B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12) are critical for brain health, cell growth, eyesight, muscle tone, cardiovascular health, and energy levels, per Healthline.

Weight loss doesn't have to mean jeopardizing your body's overall well-being. As explained by Russo, "It's important to know that the most healthy type of diet is a balanced, reduced calorie, low carb diet. A healthy protein source with fruits and vegetables for every meal is the key."

So, while adding a juice blend like red cabbage and pears to your already balanced meal could help with digestion and the health of your liver, it is, by no means, a standalone diet that's recommended by health professionals. "Work on building a lifestyle of diet and exercise that is healthy, balanced, and most importantly sustainable if you want results that are significant and durable," shared Russo, adding that seeking the help of weight loss professionals could also go a long way. "We're here to help you achieve your goals."