Scarsdale Diet: Origins, Description, Menu, Variations, Benefits, Precautions and Risks

It is a diet used to lose weight quickly and is described as a deficient calorie diet.

It is one of the oldest low-carbohydrate diets and is still made by some people.


The Scarsdale diet was a 2-page typewritten document not to have to repeat and for patients to remember it.

It was designed in the 1950s by a cardiologist, Dr. Herman Tarnower, in Scarsdale, who had written a calorie reduction guide for people in need of weight loss.

Tarnower patients often copied the diet of their friends, who in turn sent photocopies to other friends.


The Scarsdale diet can be synthesized as a diet low in calories and low in carbohydrates where a ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is prepared to lose weight.

A woman of adult age who follows this diet should consume 650 – 1000 calories daily.


The amount of nutrients makes it different because it is rare for a diet low in carbohydrates: 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 34.5% carbohydrates.

Strict diet

The Scarsdale diet should be performed for 7 to 14 days, alternating with two weeks for rest.

You should drink at least four glasses of water, diet soft drinks, or tea daily to eliminate the materials that the body discards.

The condiments allowed are salt, lemon, pepper, herbs, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and ketchup.

The Scarsdale diet is a diet with a vital characteristic; its rigidity.

Calories are not counted, but the diet is restricted to 3 meal plans, and snacks are not allowed.

Grapefruit is the centerpiece: 18 servings during the first two weeks of the regimen, 14 for breakfast, and 4 for dessert during lunch or dinner.

Basic diet menu

Day 1

  • Coffee or tea with sweetener, half grapefruit, is the breakfast menu that will be constant during the first two weeks of the diet.
  • Lean beef, fish, or chicken, accompanied with tomato salad plus tea or coffee.
  • Grilled fish plus tomato and lettuce salad, half grapefruit.

Day 2

  • Coffee or tea with sweetener, half grapefruit.
  • Salad with tuna and half a grapefruit.
  • Two lean pork chops, coffee, and mixed green salad.

Day 3

  • Coffee or tea with sweetener, half grapefruit.
  • Cheese, spinach, and a slice of dried toast.
  • Grilled fish, green salad, and one slice of toast.

Variations in the essential diet

Four different options offer in the diet to give a little more variety.

Gourmet menu

  • Coffee or tea with sweetener and half grapefruit / half a cup of pineapple cut into cubes/half papaya/half mango/half melon.
  • Egg and chicken liver, tomato, lettuce, celery, olives, endives, a slice of protein toast, coffee, and tea.
  • Soup, baked chicken breast, spinach, a peach, raspberries, and more tea or coffee.

International menu

  • Eggplant with pickles and cheese sticks, vegetable salad with vinegar and lemon, peach with raspberry sauce, and more coffee or tea.
  • Baked mushrooms, Neapolitan beef, a quarter cup of rice, zucchini stew, coffee, or tea.

Menu to save money

  • Half grapefruit or melon, tea or coffee with sweetener.
  • Two eggs, prepared without fat, zucchini, and a slice of dry protein bread.
  • Boiled or roasted chicken, without skin, with lots of spinach, tea, or coffee.


The foundation of the Scarsdale diet is to lose weight fast.

It is not a lifelong weight control regimen; one of its distinctive features indicates changing: 1 or 2 weeks following the diet and two weeks for the rest.


The only benefit of this diet is the rapid weight loss at the beginning of the regimen.


Experts and nutritionists have rejected the Scarsdale diet for having many deficiencies in health:

  • Nothing is said about the importance of exercise; on the other hand, they indicate that the 700 to 1000 calories allowed per day are not suitable for a healthy woman.
  • Even a moderately active woman, let alone one who practices sports or another physical exercise.
  • The elimination of milk in this diet represents that the intake of calcium in the diet is too low, implying risks for postmenopausal women over 50 years.
  • The menu is so strict that the dieter does not learn how to choose foods wisely during the two weeks of the diet or in those situations such as meals with family or friends or outings to restaurants.
  • Most of the lost weight is weight in water, and it can be recovered quickly when the daily feeding is restored.


The Scarsdale diet does not accept enough calories for women with an active lifestyle or growing teenagers.

It is inadequate for children.

It carries risks such as fatigue, irritability, diarrhea, constipation, and a higher risk of the formation of gallstones.

The low carbohydrate profile of the diet represents a risk of potential kidney or liver damage as a result of ketosis.

The risks associated with ketosis are one of the main reasons the Scarsdale diet should not be used for more than two weeks.

This diet represents a risk for pregnant women, alcoholics, and people already diagnosed with kidney or liver diseases.