What is the Scarsdale Diet?
The Scarsdale diet has been around since the 1970’s. It is a 2-week diet in which you can lose up to 20 pounds.
The Scarsdale diet was created by Dr. Tarnower. The diet was published in a book called “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet Plus Dr. Tarnower’s Lifetime Keep-Slim Program” in 1978.
Dr. Tarnower was an internist, cardiologist, and family doctor with a practice in Scarsdale, N.Y.
Clearly, that is where the name Scarsdale diet came from : )
Initially, Dr. Tarnower prescribed the diet just to his patients with very good success.
What is inspiring is that his patients lost up to 20 pounds in 14 days on this diet, and more than 90% of his patients maintained their desired weight afterward!
The diet became popular through word of mouth and was eventually picked up by multiple media outlets. This led Dr. Tarnower to publish the book in hopes of reaching and helping a wider audience.
Scarsdale Diet Protein, Fat and Carb Ratios
In the Scarsdale diet, you will be eating 43% protein, 34.5% carbs and 22.5% fat based on the number of calories.
According to the CDC (1), as of 2016, the average protein intake of adults was about 16%, average carb intake was about 49%, and average fat intake was about 34%.
The Scarsdale diet brings up the protein intake considerably, which is one of the reasons this diet works.
How Does the Scarsdale Diet Work?
According to Dr. Tarnower in the book, the Scarsdale diet menus combine specific foods that increase the body’s metabolism of fats, and that is how you lose weight.
The goal of the diet is for your body to produce ketones, which is a byproduct of accelerated fat burning. This is very similar to the Atkins diet which is also a high-protein diet.
However, the major difference between the Scarsdale diet and Atkins diet is that the Scarsdale diet allows very little fat in the diet.
How To Do the Scarsdale Diet
According to the diet, it is important that you do not deviate from the daily menus. Another important thing is to stop the diet after 2 weeks.
If you still need to lose more weight, you have to first switch to the Keep-Trim Program for 2 weeks, before re-starting the Scarsdale diet.
The Keep-Trim Program is a “holding pattern” diet. It is a diet that you do while you wait to start the Scarsdale diet again.
The Keep-Trim Program is a more relaxed version of the Scarsdale diet, with a lot more variety of foods to choose from. Most dieters continue to lose a few more pounds under the Keep-Trim Program.
The idea is to continue the combination of the Scarsdale diet followed by the Keep-Trim Program until you reach your desired weight.
This cycle is called the Two-On-Two-Off-Program.
Scarsdale Diet Daily Menus
See below for the entire daily menu plans for the basic Scarsdale diet.
Except where specified, there is NO quantity limit on the foods. However you should only eat until you are full, but NOT stuffed.
If for some reason, you don’t like the lunch menu on any of the days, there is a substitute lunch menu you can have instead.
Otherwise, there are so substitutions of food items allowed on the Scarsdale diet.
As you can see below, breakfast and snacks are the same every day.
You will also be drinking black coffee or tea with every meal. For additional beverages, you can have more black coffee or tea, or club soda or any diet soda, as much as you like.
You can substitute the below lunch menu, on any day for lunch!
Scarsdale Diet Substitute Lunch
- ½ cup low-fat pot cheese or cottage cheese, mixed with 1 tablespoon low-fat sour cream
- Unlimited fruit
- 6 halves of walnuts or pecans
- Black coffee or tea, or diet soda
Additional Instructions For the Scarsdale Diet
Here are some important, additional instructions for the Scarsdale diet.
- You should only eat lean meat. Remove all visible fat. For example, for chicken and turkey, remove the skin and fat.
2. Do not add any fat to your meals, including any butter, margarine, oil, mayonnaise, or oily salad dressings. For salads, only use lemon and vinegar, or one of the other suggested dressings in the book.
3. Do not drink any alcohol
4. Make sure to have your doctor approve and supervise your diet
5. Moderate exercise such as daily brisk walking is recommended
What Is Protein Bread?
Protein break is bread that has more protein than normal bread. You can buy them at local supermarkets, as they have recently become trendy.
If you like to bake your own bread, the diet also provides instructions for baking the bread. See below.
Scarsdale Diet Protein Bread Instructions
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup gluten flour
- ½ cup soy flour
- ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- Bread pan
- Pour the water in a large bowl
2. Sprinkle in the dry yeast and let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes
3. Mix in salt, sugar, and cider vinegar
4. While sifting thoroughly, slowly add first the soy and gluten flours, then the whole wheat flour
5. Mix slowly until you get a stiff dough that does not stick to the sides of the bowl
6. Lightly coat a board with flour, and place the dough on it
7. Knead well for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic
8. Coat the bread pan with non-stick vegetable spray
9. Shape the dough into a bread loaf, place into bread pan, and cover with a dish towel
10. Let stand in warm place for 2 to 3 hours, until the dough rises to the top of the bread pan
11. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
12. Bake the bread for 1 hour or until very brown
13. Let it cool and store in a refrigerator
Variations of the Basic Scarsdale Diet
If you need to lose a lot of weight and plan to embark on the Two-On-Two-Off-Program for a while, you may want to explore the other variations of the Scarsdale diet.
If you are a vegetarian, there is also a vegetarian version.
See below for a list of other 2-week Scarsdale diets that you can substitute for the basic Scarsdale diet.
- Scarsdale Gourmet Diet
- Scarsdale Money-Saver Diet
- Scarsdale Vegetarian Diet
- Scarsdale International Diet
Summary of the Keep-Trim Program
If the basic Scarsdale diet has worked for you, and you plan to go on it again, you need to first switch to the Keep-Trim Program. Here is a summary of what you can and cannot eat on this 2-week “holding-pattern” program.
Allowed Foods On the Keep-Trim Program
- All lean meats
- All fresh and frozen fish and shellfish
- Dry alcoholic drinks in moderation
- Eggs, up to 3 per week
- Vegetables and salads
- Non-sugar added fruit juices
- Nuts in moderation
- Bread, up to 2 slices per day
- Non-sugar drinks
- Diet sodas
- Skim or low-fat milk for coffees and teas
- Condiments in moderation
- Herbs, seasonings, spices
Prohibited Foods On the Keep-Trim Program
- Whole milk
- Junk foods
- Rice (try these rice alternatives instead!)
- Potatoes and yams
- Flour pasta
- Fatty meats
- Rich salad dressings
- Any fat in cooking, spreads or dressings, including butter, margarine, oils, bacon, fat, or shortening
- Peanut butter
Benefits of the Scarsdale Diet
- If you stick to the diet, you can lose a lot of weight in 2 weeks, according to the diet
2. Except for a few items, there is no need to control portions or count calories, which makes it easy to follow
3. This diet largely eliminates processed and unhealthy foods, which will give your body a break and improve your metabolism
4. You will most likely not be hungry due to the high amount of protein, and the carrots and celery allowed as snacks. Protein is known to provide satiety, and the carrots and celery will further keep you from getting hungry between meals.
Precautions When Going on the Scarsdale Diet
- Consult with a physician if you have pre-existing health conditions, particularly if you are pregnant, diabetic, or consume alcohol regularly
2. This diet lacks good fats. However this should not cause any major issues if only done for a period of 2 weeks. If you plan to continue the diet with the Two-On-Two-Off-Program, it is recommended that you take supplements for good fats such as an Omega-3 supplement.
3. Stop the diet immediately if you do not feel well
Tips For the Scarsdale Diet
- The book recommends that whenever you gain 4 pounds above your ideal weight, you should immediately go on the basic Scarsdale diet until you are back to the previous weight.
- Drink plenty of clean water to help with your liver functions, and to flush out toxins
- Add flavor to your dishes by adding herbs, seasonings, and spices to the food. These are permitted!
- Make sure to eat enough protein every day. This is key to staying full. On the other hand, don’t go overboard, and stick to the “eat only until you are full, but not stuffed” rule.
Scarsdale Diet Shopping List For 1 Week
Below is a shopping list for 1 week for the basic Scarsdale diet.
- 8 grapefruits or other fruits in season
- 1 loaf protein bread (11 slices)
- Coffee or tea
- Cold cuts (1 meal)
- Tomatoes (7 meals)
- Fish or shellfish, any kind (2 meals)
- Salad greens (3 meals)
- Carrots (for daily snacks)
- Celery (for daily snacks)
- Various fruits for fruit salad (2 meals, or unlimited in the substitute lunch menu)
- Lean ground beef (1 meal)
- Lettuce (4 meals)
- Olives (1 meal)
- Brussels sprouts (2 meals)
- Cucumbers (3 meals)
- Tuna or salmon (1 meal)
- Melon (optional)
- Lamb (1 meal)
- Eggs (1 meal)
- Low-fat cottage cheese (1 meal and in substitute lunches)
- Zucchini (1 meal)
- String beans (2 meals)
- Chicken (3 meals)
- Spinach (2 meals)
- Green peppers (1 meal)
- Assorted cheese slices (1 meal)
- Various vegetables for cooking (1 meal)
- Turkey (2 meals)
- Cabbage (1 meal)
- Broccoli (1 meal)
- Cauliflower (1 meal)
- Steak (1 meal)
- Lemon (for salad dressing)
- Vinegar (for salad dressing)
- Diet soda (optional)
- Club soda (optional)
(1) National Center for Health Statistics; Diet/Nutrition: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/diet.htm
(2) Herman Tarnower, M.D & Samm Sinclair Baker; The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet Plus Dr. Tarnower’s Lifetime Keep-Slim Program