Losing Weight On The Scarsdale Diet

Dr Herman Tarnower's book, The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, was published in 1979 and the Scarsdale Diet quickly became one of the most popular diets of the decade. Whether this was due to the merits of the program or Dr Tarnower's sensational murder in 1980 is a matter of debate.

In some respects the diet resembles the Atkins Diet, at least in terms of its high protein-low carbohydrate approach, although it allows more vegetables in the early stages and restricts caloric intake to 700 calories a day.
Here's a brief overview of the diet:

The Scarsdale Diet Phase 1:

Calories are severely restricted for the first 14 days. The following foods are allowed:

  • Grapefruit
  • Toast
  • Coffee or tea (with artificial sweetener if needed).
  • 1 protein food plus a vegetable (or grapefruit) for 5 days
  • A fruit salad only for 2 days
  • 1 piece toast (with meal) on 2 days
  • 1 protein food plus a salad (or vegetable) for 7 days.
  • A grapefruit (with meal) on 2 days.
  • 1 piece toast (with meal) on 2 days.
  • Coffee or tea (with artificial sweetener if needed).
Snacks: Carrots and celery

Drinks: Mineral water or diet sodas

In his book, Dr Tarnower assigns actual menus for each day and allows no substitutions.

Scarsdale Diet Basic Rules For Phase 1:
  1. No substitutions

  2. No alcohol

  3. No snacks except carrots and celery (as much as you wish)

  4. No beverages except regular or decaffeinated coffee, black tea, club soda (with lemon, if desired), and diet sodas (often as you wish).

  5. No oil, mayonnaise, or other salad dressings. Use only lemon and vinegar (see recipe at Scarsdale Diet Salad Dressing)

  6. No butter, margarine, or other fat on vegetables (lemon may be used).

  7. All meat must be very lean (no fat). No packaged meats.

  8. No sugar (candies). Sugar substitutes may be used.

  9. No potatoes, beans, spaghetti, or flour-based foods.

  10. No dairy fats (milk, cream, ice cream). Use skim or low-fat milk in moderation.

  11. No candy or desserts, except grapefruit or no-sugar gelatin dessert.

  12. No more than two slices of toasted protein bread a day.

The Scarsdale Diet Phase 2:

The second 14-day period allows the following foods in addition to the basic diet of lean meats, vegetables, fruit (limited), toast, tea and coffee:

  1. One alcoholic drink daily, dry (not sweet) - 1½ ounces of hard liquor, or 4½ ounces of dry wine

  2. Dry wines, dry champagne, and dry sherry (no sweet wines)

  3. Cheeses - low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cheese

  4. Soups with vegetables, meats, chicken, fish (no cream, whole milk, or fat)

  5. Fruits (any)

  6. Fruit and vegetable juices (no sugar added)

  7. Nuts (sparingly)

  8. Sugar-free jellies, jams or preserves (in moderation)

  9. Condiments - ketchup, sauces, mustard, pickles, olives, etc (in moderation)

  10. Herbs, seasonings, spices

Like many restrictive diets, the Scarsdale diet gives quick results, but if your weight loss is primarily water, you may find that you quickly regain those unwanted pounds or kilos. Most experts recommend a positive lifestyle change rather than a specific diet. This way, you can lose weight slowly as your body gently restores itself to balance.

It's important that you consult with a qualified health professional before embarking on any new dietary or exercise regimen.

Gathering information online is fine for research purposes, but you need a real live professional to monitor your progress if you attempt to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. Unless you're a health professional yourself, you aren't equipped to objectively observe your body's responses to a new diet or exercise program. So whatever your chosen course of action, please be sure you enlist the support of a qualified professional.

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