Despite its name, the General Motors cleansing diet was not developed by -- nor is it affiliated with -- General Motors, a company spokesman reported in 2009. Also known as the Sacred Heart diet, the Cleveland Clinic diet and the Spokane Heart diet, the plan has been criticized by nutrition experts as being an unhealthy and unsustainable way to lose weight. Talk to your doctor before beginning any version of the General Motors diet.
The General Motors cleansing diet and its many variations are based on two concepts that supposedly stimulate your body to burn fat: eating an unlimited amount of cabbage-based soup and pairing only certain foods together at a time. By strictly following these guidelines, you'll allegedly lose between 10 and 15 pounds in the plan's seven days. While the diet is said to have been used by General Motors after being studied by the Johns Hopkins Research Center, there is no evidence to back up this claim.
Each day of the General Motors cleansing diet features a cabbage soup prepared from vegetables, packaged soup mix, broth or bouillon and vegetable juice cocktail consumed along with a specific set of foods. Day 1 is all fruit, Day 2 features raw or cooked vegetables and an optional baked potato, while Day 3 is both fruits and vegetables but no potatoes. Day 4 focuses on bananas and nonfat milk. Unlimited beef and tomatoes make up Day 5, followed by beef and any vegetables on Day 6 and brown rice and vegetables on Day 7. Food substitutions aren't allowed. You can drink only water, 100 percent fruit juice, black coffee and unsweetened tea.
Eating soup before a meal can help you consume fewer total calories, reported a study published in the journal "Appetite" in 2007. In this study, subjects ate 20 percent less at lunch if they first ate a serving of vegetable soup. The mandatory cabbage soup in the General Motors diet may have the same effect and may aid with weight loss. In 2009, "New York Times" columnist Roger Cohen claimed in an article that he lost 11 pounds in one week after following the plan.
The General Motors cleansing diet meets the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' definition of a fad program that dieters should avoid: It does not advocate exercise, it claims specific foods and food combinations will trigger weight loss and promises to help you lose a significant number of pounds in a short amount of time. University of Florida nutritional scientist Elaine Turner adds that the majority of weight you may lose on the plan is water, and that most dieters will regain the pounds once they return to their normal eating habits. The recommended cabbage soup is high in sodium, and following the diet for longer than a week may increase your likelihood of nutritional deficiencies.