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What Is The Scarsdale Diet? Does It Help In Weight Loss?

There are many weight loss diets out there like the Dukan diet, Atkins diet, low-carb diet, paleo diet and HCG diet, to name a few. Some diets aim at lowering your appetite, while others focus on restricting the intake of calories, fat or carbohydrates.

In this article, we are going to discuss one such diet that claims to help you lose weight by lowering the intake of calories. We are talking about the Scarsdale diet, the weight loss diet that has faced extreme criticism in the medical community due to its extreme diet restrictions.

What Is The Scarsdale Diet?

The Scarsdale diet was developed by Dr. Herman Tarnower, a cardiologist who resided in Scarsdale, New York. It is a high-protein, low-calorie and low carbohydrate weight loss diet that helped Dr. Tarnower's patients lose about 20 pounds (9 kg) in just two weeks [1]. The Scarsdale diet is designed to last for 14 days.

The Scarsdale diet gained immense popularity in the 1970s as the go-to quick weight loss program. So, how did the Scarsdale diet start? As per the reports, Dr. Tarnower wrote his weight loss program as a two page diet sheet that he gave to his patients to lose weight for improving heart health. Soon after, the diet became popular and he published a book 'The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet Plus Dr. Tarnower's Lifetime Keep-Slim Program' in 1979.


How Does The Scarsdale Diet Work?

The Scarsdale diet is a strict weight loss diet plan that restricts your calorie intake up to 1,000 calories per day, regardless of your age, weight, gender or physical activity level.

The diet focuses on high-protein meals, consisting of 43 per cent of calories from protein, 22.5 per cent of calories from fat and 34.5 per cent of calories from carbohydrates.

The 14-days diet plan allows you to eat three meals during the day and doesn't allow you to eat snacks except for carrots and celery. In addition, you should drink at least 945 ml of water per day while following the Scarsdale diet.

After the completion of the two-week diet plan, you will be moving on to the Keep Slim' program, wherein you will be introducing a few foods such as bread, baked goods and one alcoholic drink per day along with the foods that are allowed on the diet. While following the 'Keep Slim' program, if you notice that you have started to gain weight, you are advised to go back to the 14-day diet plan.

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Foods To Eat On The Scarsdale Diet

  • Raw, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes, celery, carrot, cabbage, onion and radish
  • Fruits, especially grapefruit
  • Protein bread
  • Lean meat and fish
  • Eggs
  • Low fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts or pecans
  • Beverages like black coffee, tea, water and diet soda

Foods To Avoid On The Scarsdale Diet

  • Vegetables like potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes and lentils
  • Refined rice, pasta, grains and flour-based foods
  • Fruits like avocado and jackfruit
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Salad dressings, butter, mayonnaise and oils
  • High-fat meat
  • Nuts and seeds except for walnuts and pecans
  • Desserts and sweets
  • Processed foods
  • Beverages like sugary drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages

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Pros And Cons Of The Scarsdale Diet

The Scarsdale diet is an easy to follow and inexpensive diet plan. As it is a high-protein and low-calorie diet it may most likely help you to lose weight. High-protein diets have been shown to promote weight loss by keeping you feeling full for longer [2]. A low-calorie diet has also been shown to help in losing weight, but only for short-term [3].

The Scarsdale diet has its drawbacks too. The diet is highly restrictive. It doesn't allow you to eat certain nutrient-dense foods and it's extremely low in calories which allow you to consume just 1,000 calories per day, which may lead to nutrient deficiencies. However, adult men and women need 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day and 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, respectively.

As the diet is low in calories, you will be losing weight rapidly but only for short-term and you are more likely to gain weight once you stop dieting. Also, the dietary restrictions of the diet can make it difficult to follow long-term and it might be unhealthy [4].

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Sample Scarsdale Diet Menu

The Scarsdale diet allows you to eat three small meals, mainly consisting of protein and vegetables throughout the day. No snacks, high-fat, foods or dressings are allowed. Here is a sample menu plan of the Scarsdale diet:


  • Half grapefruit, one slice of protein bread toast and black coffee or tea.


  • Lean meat, sliced tomatoes, leafy veggies and black coffee or tea.


  • Fish, salad or stir-fry vegetables.

Is The Scarsdale Diet Healthy?

The Scarsdale diet is a very restrictive, high-protein and low-calorie two-week diet plan. It has a prescribed meal plan that you need to follow for two weeks that may help you lose weight. Though the diet claims that it can help you lose weight quickly, it doesn't teach you how to eat in a healthy and sustainable manner. So, once you complete the diet you will gain back your weight.

If you are looking to lose weight in the long-term, you should choose healthy, nutritious foods that contain protein, carbs, fibre and other essential nutrients combined with physical activity, good sleep and managed stress.

Common FAQs

Q. How much weight can you lose on the Scarsdale diet?

A. According to the founder of the diet, Dr. Herman Tarnower, you could lose about 20 pounds (9 kg) of weight in just two weeks.

Q. How many calories a day is the Scarsdale diet?

A. On the Scarsdale diet, you are allowed to consume just 1,000 calories per day.

Q. What do you eat on the Scarsdale diet?

A. Raw, non-starchy vegetables, grapefruit, protein bread, lean meat and fish, eggs, low fat dairy products, nuts, black coffee, tea water and diet soda.

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