Review: The Scarsdale Diet - Diet Reviews

Review: The Scarsdale Diet

The Scarsdale Diet has become one of the most popular weight loss programs in the world. Designed by Dr. Herman Tarnower, the diet is a one to two week program that is made up of 43 percent protein, 22.5 percent fat, and 34.5 percent carbohydrates.

One of the major advantages of the Scarsdale Diet is its speed—it tends to yield incredibly quick results. This is due to the fact that it relies on radically reduced calorie consumption.

If you follow the plan strictly, you can lose as much as 10 to 20 pounds in a two-week period — although most of that will be water weight. Even worse, the extreme caloric deprivation threatens lean muscle mass, a critical element of an elevated metabolism. While advocates of the diet plan maintain that Scarsdale represents an express route to weight loss, critics say that it provides too few calories for good health.

Under the Scarsdale plan, you will follow a strict diet for two weeks, then follow a less rigid diet plan for an additional week or two. The second phase of the plan is known as the Keep Trim program. Critics of the program maintain that it is far too restrictive to be healthy.

The Scarsdale program involves heavy consumption of protein. In fact, much of the diet consists of lean meats, with a number of salads also recommended. Alcohol is strictly forbidden under Scarsdale, and the only dressings that are permitted are lemon and vinegar and mustard. However, dieters are permitted to use ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs. Most vegetables are permitted, with the exception of corn, peas, potatoes, and beans.

Scarsdale recommends using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar in order to reduce calorie consumption. Dieters may also use herbal appetite suppressants in order to cut down on their food cravings.

The Scarsdale Diet is extremely low in calories—only 850 to 1,000 calories a day are permitted. This is significantly below the minimum caloric requirements recommended. You might find it difficult to follow the Scarsdale plan at first because so many favorite foods are banned. For instance, dieters cannot indulge in candy, desserts, or dairy fat; ice cream and custard are expressly forbidden.

Pasta and other flour-based products are also banned. Any meat you consume must be trimmed of skin and fat. You can only eat eggs three times a week; the only snacks you’re permitted are carrots and celery. While you can eat a variety of meats, such as beef, lamb, veal, ham, and pork, seafood canned in rich sauces are to be avoided.

Under Scarsdale, a typical diet meal would include half a grapefruit, a slice of protein bread, and coffee or tea. Lunch might consist of cold cuts, while dinner would include animal protein or seafood along with a salad. You might be surprised to learn that barbecued chicken is permitted on the Scarsdale Diet.

Scarsdale advocates drinking a great deal of water. At least four glasses of water are required each day. This is because drinking large amounts of H20 helps to flush out your system and facilitates weight loss.

While Scarsdale was one of the first “lower” carb diets to appear on the scene, it is not as popular as the Atkins Diet or the Zone Diet. Scarsdale does not require any exercise. In fact, it advocates no strenuous exercise for people over the age of 40, unless the dieters are already involved in a rigorous exercise program. Since Scarsdale severely restricts calories, you might find that you simply do not have the energy to engage in even vigorous walking.

The Scarsdale Diet can provide you with rapid weight loss over the short term. Of course “weight” does not mean “fat” in this case… your weight loss will be comprised of water, lean muscle, and fat tissue.

Additionally, you might find it difficult to maintain your weight loss because of the strict calorie requirements. Also, if you are hoping to combine dieting with exercise, Scarsdale may not be the right food plan for you.

Bottom line?

The best diets really should be a lifestyle change — something you can maintain for a long time. Otherwise, you’ll just gain the weight back when you quit dieting. The Scarsdale is not a diet anyone can commit to in the long run, and you’re very likely to gain most of the weight back after you complete the program. This is not a sensible, long term solution to weight loss.

Author: Paul

Paul Crane is the founder of His passions include supplements, working out, motorcycles, guitars... and of course, his German Shepherd dogs.


  1. I’ve used this diet in the past(15-20)yrs. ago,and it worked.I don’t know what changes my body has made,but now I use it and it dosen’t work any more.Don’t know what gives there?And I follow it strickly,except I ommit some foods ie:spinach.all seafood.But from what I hear from others…it works well.but I agree it’s not healthy and hard to stick to.

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  2. Because the diet is so restrictive is what makes it simple and easy to stick to – and it does work. But just like any strict diet, if you go back to eating like a monster the weight will jump back on!

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