Scarsdale diet: operation, menus and notices

Scarsdale is the name of a city in the state of New York, United States. This name is also associated with a diet developed by Herman Tarnower (1910-1980), an American cardiologist and nutritionist. The latter developed the Scarsdale diet in the 1970s to eliminate excess weight in subjects who desire it. This is a diet intended for rapid weight loss for a short period of time. Low calorie and restrictive, it is classified in the category of ” low-carb ” diets characterized by very little carbohydrate intake.



The Scarsdale diet is based on an extremely limited carbohydrate intake, a considerable reduction in fat and calories while promoting a high proportion of protein and a selection of foods. It is, therefore, a low calorie, hypoglycemic and high protein diet based on the consumption of certain foods and the prohibition of a whole list of foods. It is the scrupulous follow-up of the recommendations during the different phases that allow obtaining the maximum results, in particular the rapid loss of weight. 

Scarsdale diet

The choice of food is more varied during the second phase which is a stabilization step. These two phases should be repeated as many times as necessary until the subject reaches the desired weight.

For each of these two phases, the author offers several types of menus (classic, exotic, economical, gourmet and vegetarian) to vary the diet and adapt it to the desires and tastes of each.

How does the Scarsdale diet work? 

The Scarsdale diet is based on three daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) consisting of a large part of protein and a reduced proportion of lipids and carbohydrates aimed at theoretically reducing calories in the diet. It must be followed for two phases of fourteen days each with permitted foods and prohibited foods. Snacks are not allowed. 

What are the two phases of the diet?

 First phase 

The first phase (Two-On in English) lasts two weeks. Particularly strict, it is characterized by a limited choice of foods with a menu that must be followed to the letter. There are prescribed foods that should not be replaced by another. During the two weeks, the breakfast menu is always the same. It consists of half a grapefruit, a slice of wholemeal or protein-enriched bread, coffee or tea. 

As for lunches and dinners, they are invariably composed of lean meats, poultry or fish. These meals are accompanied by vegetables (cold or hot) without fat. Only lemon or vinegar is allowed as a seasoning for salads. Alcohol is prohibited. But water, coffee (decaffeinated), tea and diet drinks are allowed as drinks. 

What are the two phases of the diet?

 The second phase

Less restrictive, compared to the first phase, phase 2 or stabilization phase (Two-Off in English) also lasts 14 days. The choice of foods to eat is more varied. But carbohydrates and lipids are still severely limited during this phase which aims to stabilize weight loss. Starchy foods are not allowed. The other recommendations that should be observed during this phase are: 

  • a maximum of two slices of bread per day;
  • eggs are allowed at the rate of 3 per week;
  • sweet industrial foods, fatty meats, fats and cold meats are prohibited.

After this second 14-day phase, the subject can stop the diet or resume the first phase. 

Allowed / prohibited foods 

 Food allowed 

With the Scarsdale diet, you can eat certain foods. These are, among others, the: 

  • fruits (grapefruit, mango, papaya, peaches, etc.);
  • vegetables (spinach, carrots, celery, radishes, etc.);
  • sources of lean protein (lean meat, especially chicken, lean beef, turkey without skin or fat);
  • dairy products with 0% fat;
  • sweeteners (to replace sugars);
  •  spices, vinegar, lemon, garlic, onions, salt and mustard can be used as a seasoning.

Prohibited foods 

To help you lose weight, as part of the Scarsdale diet, certain foods should not be eaten. Among the foods to be banned, we can mention the: 

  • starches (rice, pasta, etc.);
  • fats (oil, butter, etc.);
  • fatty dairy products;
  • cold meats;
  • sugars and sweet products;
  • fatty meats (sausage, pork chop, etc.);
  • jams and desserts.

What is a typical day on the Scarsdale diet?

A typical day on the Scarsdale diet is made up as follows.


  • seasonal fruit or 1/2 grapefruit,
  • slice of toast or protein bread, 
  • coffee or tea without milk, sugar, cream. 


  • lean meat (chicken, turkey …)
  • tomatoes (grilled or roasted)
  • coffee or tea.

Having dinner 

  • lean fish 
  • green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, etc.)
  • coffee or tea.
coffee or tea.

The advantages of the Scarsdale diet 

  •  It is a short diet that allows you to lose weight quickly. This result (with a weight loss of up to 500 g per day) and this short duration constitute a source of motivation which makes it possible to avoid any abandonment during the implementation of the diet. 
  • The Scarsdale diet is easy to follow. The menus are already developed with previously calculated proportions and available in dedicated books. You don’t need to design the menus, just buy the foods to whip up the dishes with a wide variety of recipes recorded in Dr Tarnower’s book (” The Scarsdale Medical Diet” ).
  •   When it is short-lived, the Scarsdale diet is beneficial to health with generally sufficient intakes of protein, minerals and vitamins.
  •  In general, there are no restrictions in terms of the amount of food allowed, or the counting of calories, or the weighing of food rations. You no longer need an effective appetite suppressant.
  •  With the weight loss which is particularly rapid, this slimming diet can prove to be useful for the bride and groom who want to lose weight quickly or for people who hastily want to lose weight for a special event in the near future. 

The lessers

  • Renewing this regimen or repeating it frequently, as the author suggests, can have adverse effects following nutritional imbalances. Indeed, banning oils can promote a deficiency of essential fatty acids. Insufficient amounts of milk can induce calcium deficiency. These nutritional deficiencies can cause brain dysfunction. 
  • It is a strict diet which is sometimes incompatible with social life, because it does not allow any deviation, no adaptation of meals. It is therefore difficult to apply it scrupulously when inviting friends or going out to restaurants. 
  • The diet does not allow a relatively varied diet. It is a high-protein diet but also low-calorie and hypoglucidic. It is then a particularly unbalanced diet which can have side effects resulting from a large consumption of proteins or a poorly diversified diet. 
  • This diet exposes the subject to a recovery of the lost kilograms as soon as the return to a normal diet. It can cause a yoyo effect given the very rapid weight loss during the first two weeks.

The effectiveness of the Scarsdale diet 

The Scarsdale diet is characterized by a diet rich in protein. It also involves reducing the number of calories and the proportion of carbohydrate intake. This low proportion of carbohydrates and calories promotes a reduction in hunger while allowing the body to withstand the restrictions. In doing so, to meet its needs, the body will draw on fat reserves and not on its sugar reserves.

Thus, the Scarsdale diet promotes after a few days the reduction of the feeling of hunger and a rapid loss of weight, of half a kilogram per day on average (according to the author), or 7 to 9 kilos in 2 weeks. It has weight loss benefits just like the best fat burners. However, this effectiveness is short-term and prevails when the instructions and recommendations are scrupulously observed. As soon as you resume a balanced diet, weight regain is almost inevitable. 


The Scarsdale diet consists of the first phase of two weeks and the second phase of two weeks as well, for a total of four weeks for both phases. The author recommends a regular alternation of phase 1 and phase 2, ie the maintenance for the life of the alternations of the different phases.

Special menus and recipes for the Scarsdale diet

Day 1
Half grapefruit
slices of wholemeal bread or slices of bread enriched with protein,
tea or coffee without sugar, milk or cream
Choice of cold meats (lean meats: chicken, turkey, tongue, lean beef, etc.)
sliced ‚Äč‚Äčtomato, grilled or in the pot,
coffee or tea 
Fish or seafood (shrimps, crabs)
Vegetable salad
Slice of whole wheat bread or toasted protein
Grapefruit or a seasonal fruit
Coffee or tea
Day 2Half grapefruit
slices of wholemeal bread or slices of bread enriched with protein,
tea or coffee without sugar, milk or cream

Fruit salad (you can combine any fruit you want) Coffee or tea without sugar 
a minced and grilled steak, salad of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, coffee or tea without sugar 
Day 3Half a grapefruit,
slice of wholemeal bread or slice of bread enriched with protein,
tea or coffee without sugar, milk or cream
Tuna lettuce salad (vinegar or lemon juice as a seasoning) grapefruit, melon or seasonal fruit coffee or tea without sugar Roast lamb (after removing the fat) salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery coffee or tea without sugar 
Day 4Half a grapefruit, slices of wholemeal bread or slices of bread enriched with protein,
tea or coffee without sugar, milk or cream
2 eggs prepared without fat, skim or low-fat cheese, green beans or toasted wholemeal bread or protein, coffee or pure tea.Grilled chicken (skinless, fat free)
spinach, green peppers or green beans
coffee or tea.

Opinion of health professionals

For healthcare professionals, the Scarsdale diet may be an interesting tip or solution that can aid in rapid weight loss, provided it is applied for a short period of time not exceeding 14 days. Since this is a low-calorie diet, it can induce weight loss during the first few weeks. However, no new scientific evaluation can establish a definite relationship between this weight loss and scrupulous adherence to the principles of the Scarsdale diet.

Beyond two weeks, this slimming plan does not meet the nutritional needs of the body, can cause significant deficiencies in essential fatty acids, minerals (calcium). Particularly restrictive, it can have harmful effects on healthTo avoid exposure to the consequences of a dietary imbalance, some professionals advise medical advice or that of a dietitian before resorting to the Scarsdale diet. For them, this slimming plan should not be applied for a long period of time. 

Also, for some experts, this diet developed in the 1970s with the knowledge of the past century, may be out of phase with current knowledge (of the 21 st century) in terms of nutrition. 

Consumer reviews

Consumers who enjoy the Scarsdale diet emphasize that they don’t have to worry about designing menus and recipes. They are generally satisfied with this diet which allowed them to lose weight quickly during the first few weeks. But, as critics of this diet point out, he finds the implementation a bit taxing and is unwilling to stick to the principles of this diet for their entire lives. It is even boring or bland for other consumers who blame it for the lack of variety in menus.

These consumers disappointed with this slimming plan, express their dissatisfaction by revealing that they have lost just insignificant weight. They do not forget to reveal the hunger they have felt for days and the impractical nature of this diet which does not allow to take a meal in a restaurant, with friends or relatives during periods of celebration. For them, it is too restrictive, frustrating and unsuitable for life, if not ineffective.

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