Scarsdale diet

Scarsdale diet


What is the Scarsdale Diet?

Scarsdale is the name of a diet born in the United States a few decades ago and still in vogue today, thanks to the numerous supporters and media relaunches that periodically re-propose it as an example of a "miraculous diet".

Developed in the late 450s by Dr. Herman Tarnower, the Scarsdale diet goes as far as promising 1 grams per day (XNUMX pound / day) weight loss.

How does it work?

How does it work? Underlying these extraordinary results is a dietary regimen that strongly emphasizes carbohydrate restriction, without worrying excessively about the total calorie content of the meals.

The Scarsdale diet also provides a reduction in fat, less evident than that of carbohydrates, but still very important. We are therefore faced with a typical example of a low-carb diet (low in carbohydrates) with a ketogenic effect (production of ketone bodies with a toxic, dehydrating and anorectic effect). The Scarsdale diet is very similar to the Atkins diet (high protein, low fat and carbohydrate) with the difference that the Scarsdale diet also involves significant consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Yo-yo effect: is the Scardale diet advisable?

Also based on what the defenders of the Scarsdale method claim, this diet would also favor the maintenance of the weight achieved, avoiding the dangerous yo-yo effect.

In reality the opposite is true given that, as we will see, such a restrictive calorie regime is destined to be abandoned after a short period.

Basic Principles

Basics of the Scarsdale Diet

Scarsdale is the classic last minute diet; the authors in fact advise to follow it for 7-14 days, respecting a very specific dietary scheme.
Below we will summarize the general principles of the system by dividing the behaviors and choices recommended from those that are not adequate

What to do What NOT to do

Duration 7-14 days

Follow the diet for less than a week or for more than two weeks

Strictly adhere to the diet plan

Alternate meals or days of diet with moments of cheating

Eat 3 main meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Eat only two out of three main meals or include snacks in between

Only eat healthy and "clean" foods

Prefer "junk foods"

Reduce the total carbohydrates of the diet, both simple and complex

Maintain a nutritional breakdown that favors carbohydrates

Reduce the total fat of the diet

Consume fatty foods and season various recipes

Go for lean foods

Do not season with either oil or butter

Consume fatty foods

Season the dishes with oil or butter

Give preference to high-protein foods at the expense of others

Penalize the fraction of protein foods

Estimate portions "by eye", without using the scale

Weigh the portions of the food

Reduce the calories of the diet

Maintain the total calorie intake with the diet unchanged

Increase your fluid consumption

Maintain or decrease your fluid consumption

Drink a lot of water

Promote the consumption of herbal drinks

Eliminate carbonated sweet drinks

Drink a little water

Don't include herbal drinks in your diet

Drink lots of carbonated sweet drinks

Abolish alcohol

Drink alcohol

Do not engage in motor activity, especially intense and prolonged

Starting or continuing physical sports activity


What to eat

Structure of the Scarsdale diet

The day begins with a breakfast of coffee or tea and citrus.
Instead, lunch and dinner must be rich in protein foods, low in carbohydrates and free of seasonings.
The Scarsdale diet recommends increasing the consumption of liquids, in order to facilitate the elimination of nitrogenous waste produced by the metabolization of proteins.
Between meals, the Scarsdale diet bans alcohol and snacks, encouraging the use of herbal preparations capable of controlling the urge of hunger.

Diet Without Libra

Although the Scarsdale diet does not require you to weigh food, thus losing importance to the "quantity" of food, it is nevertheless careful to respect the constraint of calorie restriction.
The foods it offers (meat, eggs, fish) are in fact particularly satiating and, for most people, it becomes difficult to consume them in large quantities.

The table below shows the energy details of some typical foods of the Scarsdale diet.




Calories x 100 g


Calories x 100 g

Chicken breast

100 kcal


171 kcal

Lean beef burger

120 kcal

Beef burger

150 kcal


151 kcal

Rolled bacon

315 kcal

Pork, lean cuts

110  kcal


270 kcal

Beef fillet

127 kcal


304 kcal

Tuna steak in brine

103 kcal

Fried fish

265 + 135 kcal

Pickled mackerel

177 kcal

Tuna in oil

258 kcal


85 kcal


237 kcal


19 kcal

Battered vegetables + frying

231 + 135 kcal


16-19 kcal

Black olives

150 kcal


26 kcal


231 kcal

Physical Exercise

Scarsdale: diet without motor activity

Dr. Herman's slimming strategy does NOT include a winning combination of "diet and regular exercise".
The subject is however left free to practice moderate activities, such as a thirty-minute walk at a brisk pace.
Due to the caloric restriction, practicing sports could still be much more demanding than usual.
If you decide to exercise a little, however, we recommend that you bring a few sachets of sugar with you in order to quickly deal with the possible occurrence of hypoglycemia (take sugar when symptoms such as blurred vision, weakness, intense hunger, dizziness appear. and a sense of general malaise).

Scarsdale diet example

  • Caloric intake indicative of the proposed Scarsdale diet: 800-1.000 Kcal per day
  • Breakdown of macronutrients: proteins (43%), carbohydrates (34,5%), fats (22,5%).

Diet Day 1

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: lean meat or fish at will; tomatoes, tea or coffee
  • DINNER: baked swordfish, tomatoes and lettuce, grapefruit or melon

Diet Day 2

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: lean meat or fish at will; salty, tea or coffee
  • DINNER: hamburger (without bread) and all the cooked vegetables you want

Diet Day 3

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: tuna salad + grapefruit or melon
  • DINNER: lean pork + mixed salad + coffee

Diet Day 4

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: 2 egg omelette with cheese (low-fat or semi-fat) + 75 grams of pumpkin + 1 toast + coffee
  • DINNER: chicken (skinless) + spinach with green pepper and coffee

Diet Day 5

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: cheese or cottage cheese + toast and spinach
  • DINNER: baked fish, cooked vegetables or green salad plus 1 toast

Diet Day 6

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: unlimited dried fruit plus a coffee
  • DINNER: skinless baked chicken + tomato and green salad + grapefruit or melon + coffee

Diet Day 7

  • BREAKFAST: coffee or tea with artificial sweetener and 1/2 grapefruit
  • LUNCH: chicken, tomato, melon or grapefruit salad
  • DINNER: lean beef + mixed salad + coffee
  • The consumption of carrots or celery is tolerated between meals
  • Allowed condiments: spices, lemon, pepper, vinegar, mustard, ketchup and soy sauce
  • Instead of sugar, to sweeten tea or coffee, use artificial sweeteners.

For further information: Scarsdale Diet Example "

Effects on Health

Slimming effect of the Scarsdale diet

Even the most skeptical of nutritionists will agree on the "slimming" efficacy of the Scarsdale diet.
Like all ketogenic or partial fasting diets, Scarsdale also promotes rapid weight loss.
The impressive weight loss recorded in the first days is however mainly linked to the depletion of carbohydrate reserves, the reduction of muscle mass and the consequent dehydration of the organism.

Undesirable effects of the Scarsdale diet

Initially, people on the Scarsdale diet can lose a lot of weight (up to 3-4 kg in 7 days), but such weight loss is not easily sustainable or storable.
The risk of quickly regaining the pounds lost with the Scarsdale diet is therefore high; this is due both to the restoration of glycogen stores and to rehydration, and to the lack of dietary education.
The most skeptical paint the Scarsdale diet as an unhealthy diet due to:

  • High protein intake
  • Deficiencies of carbohydrates, which although not essential are still necessary for the proper functioning of the body (especially the brain)
  • Excessive global calorie restriction
  • Lack of essential nutrients (vitamins, essential fats, minerals, etc.).

Furthermore, it is possible that the prevalence of saturated fats (at the expense of unsaturated ones) and the considerable amount of cholesterol in the diet may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in predisposed subjects.
In fact, despite offering some interesting ideas, the Scarsdale diet has many weaknesses and must therefore be replaced with a more balanced and correct diet (see: dietary advice).

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