Scarsdale Diet: Overview, Benefits, and Downsides

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The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan was standard within the late 1970s.

Based on a top-selling e-book by Dr. Herman Tarnower — a heart specialist situated in Scarsdale, NY — the weight-reduction plan promised as much as 20 kilos (9 kg) of weight reduction in below 2 weeks.

With its excessive restrictions and “quick fix” ideology, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan has been met with super criticism by the medical neighborhood.

Still, you could marvel if this weight-reduction plan actually works and whether or not it’s best for you.

This article opinions the advantages and downsides of the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan to point out whether or not scientific proof helps it.

Rating rating breakdown

  • Overall rating: 1.25
  • Weight loss:
  • Healthy consuming:
  • Sustainability:
  • Whole physique well being:
  • Nutrition high quality: 2.5
  • Evidence-based:

BOTTOM LINE: The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan slashes your calorie consumption to just one,000 per day utilizing a strict record of accepted meals. Its concentrate on fast weight reduction and excessive restrictions make it troublesome to comply with long run, in addition to harmful.

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan began as a two-page weight-reduction plan sheet made by Tarnower to assist his sufferers shed weight for higher coronary heart well being.

After many particular person success tales, Tarnower revealed the e-book “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet” in 1979.

The weight-reduction plan permits a mere 1,000 energy per day no matter your age, weight, intercourse, or exercise ranges. It’s heavy in protein, consisting of 43% protein, 22.5% fats, and 34.5% carbs.

The weight-reduction plan additionally forbids snacks and quite a few wholesome meals, equivalent to potatoes, candy potatoes, rice, avocados, beans, and lentils.

Tarnower died 1 12 months after the e-book’s publication. Shortly thereafter, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan was closely criticized for its excessive restrictions and unrealistic weight reduction guarantees. As such, the e-book is not in print.


The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan focuses on protein-heavy meals however limits you to 1,000 energy per day. The e-book it’s based mostly on is not offered or promoted as a result of numerous risks of this consuming sample.

The guidelines of the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan may be present in Tarnower’s e-book “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet.” Though it’s not in print, some copies are nonetheless offered on-line, and some unofficial Scarsdale weight-reduction plan web sites record its particulars.

The primary guidelines embody consuming a protein-rich weight-reduction plan, proscribing your self to 1,000 energy per day, and following a restricted record of accepted meals. You are forbidden from any snacks besides carrots, celery, and low sodium veggie soups, that are solely to be eaten when vital.

You should drink at the least four cups (945 mL) of water per day however may take pleasure in black espresso, plain tea, or weight-reduction plan soda.

Tarnower emphasised that the weight-reduction plan is just meant to final 14 days, after which you transition to the Keep Slim program.

Keep Slim program

After the 14-day preliminary weight-reduction plan, you’re allowed to introduce just a few banned meals, equivalent to bread (as much as 2 slices per day), baked items (as a uncommon deal with), and one alcoholic beverage per day.

While you’re nonetheless anticipated to comply with the record of accepted meals, you’re allowed to extend your portion sizes and energy to permit extra flexibility.

Tarnower instructed following the Keep Slim program till you discover your weight growing. If you regain weight, you’re instructed to do the 14-day preliminary weight-reduction plan once more.


The weight-reduction plan’s preliminary section lasts 14 days and is so restrictive that the majority snacks are banned. You then transition to the Keep Slim program, which is barely extra versatile.

A small number of meals is permitted on the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan. As you’re solely allowed 1,000 energy per day, it’s essential that you just monitor your portion sizes and follow the accepted meals.

Although it appears contradictory, the weight-reduction plan recommends that you just eat till you’re glad.

Foods to eat

Foods allowed on the weight-reduction plan embody:

  • Raw, non-starchy greens: bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, inexperienced beans, leafy greens, lettuce, onion, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini
  • Fruits: select grapefruit at any time when potential; in any other case apples, blueberries, cantaloupes, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, starfruit, strawberries, and watermelon
  • Wheat and grains: solely protein bread is permitted
  • Meat, poultry, and fish: lean beef (together with hamburger), hen, turkey, fish, shellfish, and chilly cuts (besides bologna)
  • Eggs: yolks and whites however ready plain — with out oil, butter, or different fat
  • Dairy: low fats merchandise, equivalent to 2% milk, cheese slices, and cottage cheese
  • Nuts and seeds: solely six walnut or pecan halves per day, now and again
  • Seasonings: most herbs and spices are permitted
  • Beverages: unsweetened black espresso, tea, and water, in addition to zero-calorie weight-reduction plan soda

Foods to keep away from

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan forbids quite a few meals, together with many wholesome ones like candy potatoes, avocados, beans, and lentils. There aren’t any said explanation why these meals are prohibited.

Though grapefruit was initially the one fruit allowed, up to date variations now allow most fruits — however reserve them as a deal with.

  • Vegetables and starches: beans, corn, lentils, peas, potatoes (white and candy), pumpkin, and rice
  • Fruits: avocado and jackfruit
  • Dairy: full fats dairy together with milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Fats and oils: all oils, butter, ghee, mayonnaise, and salad dressings
  • Wheat and grains: most wheat and grain merchandise (e.g., bagels, bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, pancakes, pasta, pita bread, pizza, sandwiches, tortillas, and wraps)
  • Flours: all flour and flour-based meals
  • Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds besides walnuts and pecans (in restricted quantities)
  • Meat: extremely processed meats, equivalent to bologna, sausage, and bacon
  • Sweets and desserts: all sweets and desserts, together with chocolate
  • Processed meals: quick meals, frozen meals, potato chips, premade dinners, and so forth.
  • Beverages: alcoholic drinks, artificially sweetened drinks, most fruit juices, soda, and specialty coffees and teas


The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan limits you to a small record of accepted meals. Many meals excessive in carbs or fats are banned.

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan’s primary declare is that it may well assist you to lose 20 kilos (9 kg) in 14 days through a protein-rich, low calorie weight-reduction plan consisting of largely lean meats, eggs, low fats dairy, leafy greens, and some fruit.

Since the weight-reduction plan permits simply 1,000 energy per day — properly under the really useful calorie consumption for any grownup — you’ll seemingly shed weight.

That’s as a result of weight reduction will depend on a calorie deficit, which signifies that you burn extra energy than you soak up (1).

However, grownup males and ladies want 2,000–Three,000 and 1,600–2,400 energy per day, respectively. The 1,000 day by day energy prescribed by the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan places most individuals in a day by day calorie deficit of 1,000–2,000 energy (2).

To compensate for the drastic lower in energy, your physique will start to make use of fats, muscle, and glycogen shops as power (Three, four).

Glycogen is a saved type of carbs that holds massive quantities of water. As your physique makes use of up glycogen and muscle shops, it releases water, inflicting a dramatic drop in weight (four, 5, 6).

Plus, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan recommends that 43% of your day by day energy come from protein. High protein diets have been proven to advertise weight reduction by aiding fullness, however they’re much less efficient in tandem with very low calorie diets like this one (Three).

As such, you’ll seemingly shed weight throughout the first 2 weeks of the weight-reduction plan. However, very low calorie diets paired with excessive meals restrictions are unsustainable and seemingly result in weight regain when you cease weight-reduction plan (7, eight).

Even with the Keep Slim upkeep program that’s barely extra versatile, few meals are allowed and energy are nonetheless restricted. Therefore, few individuals can count on to maintain this weight-reduction plan long run.

Though you could shed weight rapidly, most medical specialists agree that speedy weight reduction is unhealthy and unsustainable. Instead, it is best to undertake wholesome way of life habits, equivalent to portion management, wholesome cooking strategies, common train, and stress administration.


The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan could be very low in energy, which seemingly results in short-term weight reduction — largely from water weight fairly than fats. You’ll seemingly regain the burden as soon as the weight-reduction plan is over.

Despite its unrealistic weight reduction guarantees, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan has just a few redeeming qualities.

It’s easy and simple for many who are on the lookout for actual directions, which take away the second-guessing that many diets contain.

Furthermore, it promotes excessive protein meals alongside greens at every meal. Depending in your routine consuming sample, this may occasionally enhance your weight-reduction plan high quality.

Finally, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan is kind of low cost and doesn’t require costly meals or gear.


Though the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan is ridden with flaws, it’s simple, encourages excessive protein meals, and is comparatively cheap.

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan has quite a few downsides and negative effects which will endanger your well being. As such, it’s finest to keep away from the weight-reduction plan.

Highly restrictive

To comply with the weight-reduction plan accurately, you have to eradicate many meals, together with a number of nutritious choices.

This weight-reduction plan leaves little room for flexibility and different necessary features of consuming, equivalent to cultural traditions and celebrations. If your meals change into much less pleasant and even overwhelming, the weight-reduction plan shall be troublesome to comply with long run (Three).

In many instances, restrictive consuming might injury your means to manage your meals consumption or enhance your threat of overeating (9, 10).

The finest diets are people who permit all meals sparsely, present the optimum quantity of diet via entire meals, and are simple to comply with long run (Three, 11).

Encourages yo-yo weight-reduction plan

You’re meant to comply with the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan for 14 days, then the Keep Slim upkeep program. However, you’re imagined to return to the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan should you start to regain weight.

This advice proves that the weight-reduction plan isn’t solely unsustainable but additionally liable to weight biking, likewise known as yo-yo weight-reduction plan. This sample entails a continuing cycle of fast weight reduction adopted by weight regain (12).

Weight biking may be dangerous each bodily and mentally, as it could result in a slower metabolism, elevated threat of weight regain, poor physique picture, and disordered consuming ideas and behaviors (12, 13, 14).

Vilifies energy

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan emphasizes calorie consumption over diet.

In reality, it could result in nutrient deficiencies given its harmful necessities to eat a meager 1,000 energy per day and eradicate complete meals teams like entire grains, starchy greens, avocados, full fats dairy, nuts, and seeds.

Plus, the weight-reduction plan promotes the false perception that every one energy are inherently dangerous. Rather, diets wealthy in nutrient-dense meals, which can be excessive in energy, are linked to a decrease threat of weight problems, mortality, coronary heart illness, diabetes, irritation, and sure cancers (15, 16, 17, 18).

Therefore, it is best to concentrate on nutrient high quality fairly than energy. Try to comply with a weight-reduction plan filled with nutrient-dense, minimally processed meals for wholesome weight reduction (Three).

Prioritizes weight reduction over well being

Rather than bettering general well being, the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan focuses on excessive meals restriction and near-starvation strategies to set off speedy weight reduction.

The foundation of the weight-reduction plan is that weight reduction is paramount to well being. Yet, adopting wholesome way of life behaviors, equivalent to consuming nutritious meals, exercising usually, getting sufficient sleep, and managing stress, might enhance general well being with or with out weight reduction (Three, 11, 19).

Sadly, this weight-reduction plan fails to acknowledge that your well being is greater than only a quantity on the dimensions.


The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan promotes pointless meals restrictions, dangerously slashes your calorie consumption, is unsustainable, and prioritizes weight reduction over well being.

The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan recommends consuming the identical breakfast every day and consuming lukewarm water all through the day. Snacks are banned, however you’re allowed carrots, celery, or low sodium veggie soups should you can’t wait till your subsequent meal.

Furthermore, you aren’t permitted to cook dinner with oils or different fat and can not add spreads to your protein bread.

Here’s a Three-day pattern menu for the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: 1 slice of protein bread (no unfold), half of a grapefruit, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Lunch: Salad (canned salmon, leafy greens, and vinegar and lemon dressing), plus fruit, in addition to black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Dinner: Roast hen (no pores and skin), spinach, half of a bell pepper, string beans, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda

Day 2

  • Breakfast: 1 slice of protein bread (no unfold), half of a grapefruit, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Lunch: 2 eggs (no fats), 1 cup (162 grams) of low fats cottage cheese, 1 slice of protein bread (no unfold), plus fruit, in addition to black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Dinner: a lean hamburger (a big serving to allowed), salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery) with lemon and vinegar dressing, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda

Day Three

  • Breakfast: 1 slice of protein bread (no unfold), half of a grapefruit, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Lunch: assorted meat slices, spinach (limitless quantities), sliced tomatoes, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda
  • Dinner: a grilled steak (all fats eliminated — a big serving allowed), Brussels sprouts, onions, half of a bell pepper, and black espresso, tea, or weight-reduction plan soda

There’s restricted data on portion sizes, although to make sure you keep throughout the 1,000 calorie restrict, you in all probability must maintain portion sizes small for all meals apart from leafy greens and proteins.


The Scarsdale weight-reduction plan recommends small meals comprised of protein and veggies, and it encourages you to eat the identical breakfast every day. No snacks, spreads, or excessive fats meals are allowed.

Though the Scarsdale weight-reduction plan was standard within the 1970s, it’s hardly ever promoted in the present day.

While you could shed weight quickly, the weight-reduction plan is extraordinarily restrictive, low in energy and vitamins, and in the end unsustainable.

If you’re on the lookout for long-term weight reduction, you’re higher off following a weight-reduction plan comprising entire, minimally processed meals and a life-style that features common train, high quality sleep, and stress administration.

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