The Scarsdale diet is a diet from the 70’s that is based around the idea of eating proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the portions 43% protein, 22.5% fat and 34.5% carbohydrates. To this day it still remains as one of the top selling diet books of all time. Initially when the Scarsdale diet was created the risks of a high protein diet were not yet known, but since then a high protein diet is generally not recommended namely due to the pressure it puts on the kidneys and the risk it poses in developing osteoporosis.
Even when established in the 70’s the diet was only ever recommended to be followed two weeks at a time.
How the diet works:
You eat what’s on the 2-week menus. Period. Then you move to the maintenance regimen, which the book claims is not as restrictive. Huh? The “Keep Trim” diet has a long list of taboos: no sugar, no potatoes, no pasta, no dairy fat, no bread, no desserts. It’s also big on don’ts: Don’t eat peanut butter; don’t cook with butter, margarine, or any kind of fat; don’t eat sausage, bologna, salami, or other fatty meats; don’t eat more than two slices of bread a day-preferably protein bread, toasted. This is a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat diet. As Tarnower himself states, the numbers balance out to 43 percent protein, 22.5 percent fat, and 34.5 percent carbs.
What you can eat:
Only what’s on the menu. Breakfast every day includes half a grapefruit, one slice of toasted protein bread, and black coffee or tea. Lunch on Monday is limited to lean cold cuts, sliced tomatoes, and coffee or tea. Dinner is fish or shellfish, a salad, a slice of protein bread, a grapefruit half, and coffee or tea. You can snack on all the carrots and celery you want.
Does the diet take and keep weight off?
The book cover boasts that you can lose up to 20 pounds in 14 days. There’s no clinical data to support this, but Tarnower provides anecdotal snippets from patients. There are also unsolicited testimonials from dieters who say things like, “I have completed 14 days of your diet and lost 14 pounds. This is the first diet that worked for me that isn’t ridiculous starvation.” Right.
Is the diet healthy?
No. Limited food choices make it unlikely that you’ll meet requirements for many nutrients. For example, without milk, it’s unlikely that dieters will get enough calcium. Vegetables will provide some fiber and nutrients, but it all depends on how much you choose to eat. A nutritional analysis of the Monday menu, with the addition of two carrots and two stalks of celery, adds up to 610 calories. With lean turkey at lunch and orange roughy at supper, the whole day’s diet contains only 4.4 grams of fat-hardly enough to be adequate.
Scarsdale diet menu
Scarsdale diet menu does not require meal portioning. You can eat as much as you like until you are satisfied (not stuffed).
- 1/2 grapefruit – but if they’re unavailable ( 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple or 1/2 mango or 1/2 papaya or 1/2 canteloupe or a generous slice of honeydew, casaba or other available melon)
- Slice of wholemeal or protein toast (no spreads or butter)
- Coffee (no sugar or milk)
- Canned tuna
- Salad (like lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and celery) with oil-free dressing
- Coffee/Tea/Diet Soda/Water
- Roast lamb (with all visible fat removed) or fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, or vegetable protein
- Salad with lemon and vinegar dressing
Water, diet drinks, tea, and soda water.
The doctor who invented the diet recommends that dieters walk 3km each day, so obviously exercise comes into play. However, it is unlikely that a person would be able to effectively do this much physical activity given the low calorie intake. The calorie intake is one reason many critics slam the diet, because it is so low and perhaps not enough to function optimally let alone carry out various forms of exercise.
The original Scarsdale approach isn’t followed much these days but there are variants of the diet that are more suited to modern nutritional beliefs. Originally as the diet was only recommended to be followed for a total of two weeks, Dr. Tarnower then suggested that it be followed by his keep trim programme, which although not quite as strict as the Scarsdale component (containing more calories), still banned many foods.
Any time that you start a diet plan, it’s always advisable to contact your physician. A diet such as the Scarsdale Diet may get you quick results, but it’s not a guide to lifelong healthy eating.