Scarsdale Diet

scarsdale-dietThe Scarsdale Diet was a famous book written in the 1970s.

Dr Herman Tarnower ran a clinic in the town of Scarsdale, and (like so many other doctor-designed plans) created the diet for overweight patients.

The book has always been a huge seller and is still popular today.

Scarsdale Diet: Low Fat, High Protein

The Scarsdale Diet has a peculiar nutrient ratio – the only diet exactly like this. It contains 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 34.5% carbohydrate.

Dr Tarnower claims this level of diet brings about the process of ketosis.

The Scarsdale Diet Consists of Two Phases

Phase One: The Scarsdale 14 Day Medical Diet

This phase is low calorie (about 1000 per day), and has very strict rules during the first two weeks. Corn, peas, lentils, potatoes and any beans (except green beans or waxed beans) are forbidden during phase one.

The one week meal plan provided by Scarsdale is repeated twice for a total of 2 weeks.

The supposed weight loss is 20 pounds (9kg) in just 14 days.

Phase Two: Keep Trim Program

After the first phase, the calorie limit is lifted a little in the Keep Trim Program.

Dieters are NOT to repeat the first phase until they have completed at least two weeks of the Keep Trim Program even if they haven’t reached their goal weight.

Dieters should use Scardale’s 2 On 2 Off  method until goal weight is achieved.

Recommended Foods

Lean meat, non-fat dairy, protein bread, eggs, green leafy vegetables, carrots, celery, broccoli, canned tuna, tea, diet soda.

Forbidden Foods

Dairy with fat, butter, fatty meats, potatoes, avocados, baked beans, peanut butter, artificial sweeteners, sugar, yams, pasta, sweet potato, cakes, pies, candy, chocolate, lima beans, rice.

Scarsdale 1 Day Sample Meal Plan

1/2 grapefruit
slice of wholemeal toast (no spreads or butter)
coffee (no sugar or milk)
Canned tuna
salad with oil-free dressing
Roast lamb (with all visible fat removed)
salad with lemon and vinegar dressing
Water, tea, soda water.

Now Online

There’s also an online version of the Scarsdale Diet that contains over 300 recipes as well as a wealth of tips to help people be successful while following the protocol set forth by Tarnower.

Click here to try the Scarsdale Diet Online.

The Print Version

The Complete Scarsdale Diet which retails for $7.99.

Buy this book from Amazon.

Scarsdale Issues

While weight loss will occur, it is neither healthy, or sustainable in the long-term. If a low carb diet is desired, we would recommend finding one that is a little less strict.

Like many diets of this kind – the calorie recommendations are too low.

Also forbidden are a lot of healthy and nutritious foods that many have eaten and still experienced significant weight loss. On one hand he says no artificial sweeteners, but then he recommends diet soda in his meal plans, which seems to be a contradiction.

See the Scarsdale Diet here

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Wadden, T. A., STUNKARD, A. J., & BROWNELL, K. D. (1983). Very low calorie diets: their efficacy, safety, and future. Annals of internal medicine, 99(5), 675-684. link
  • Hoffer, L. J., Bistrian, B. R., Young, V. R., Blackburn, G. L., & Matthews, D. E. (1984). Metabolic effects of very low calorie weight reduction diets. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 73(3), 750. link

100 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. Bobbie

    Can I lose weight if I try the gourmet on scarsdale.

  2. Laura

    Just to finish my below comment, diet was brill (other than couple mornings waking up and instantly feeling faint). It was birthday last weekend so I only did the diet for 12days instead of 14 but that had been my plan all along – I lost 11lbs in 12 days and even better than that my appetite has shrunk by so much, got medium 11″ pizza in restaurant for my bday dinner and could only eat a third! Been nearly a week off it now and have kept weight off.

  3. Laura

    Started this diet on Monday and I have to admit I am finding the hunger pangs difficult to deal with, but I havent been tempted to cheat yet! I have lost 4lbs in 3 days which I am delighted with and hope that the weight keeps coming off over the coming days. We have the book from years ago but i hear its the same as current issue. Have been walking 40 mins a day as the book advises 2 mile walk a day. I do actually like all the food on the plan, I just find it hard in the evenings when I would usually snack, however I have been trying to keep busy to stop me thinking of food and with all the extra energy I have I have gotten so many little chores around the house done ha! Would advise everyone to try it, what’s the worst that can happen!!!!

  4. LF

    The diet is absolutely amazing so far. Today starts my fifth day and I’ve already lost 4.5 – which is a LOT, especially because I started out at 137 and am 5’5″. My Mom is doing it with me, and I haven’t talked to her this morning, but she lost 4 lb in the first two days and 0.5 lb the next day…and I haven’t asked her what she lost today yet. So that’s incredible. She started at 200 lb. Basically, this whole summer I’ve been dieting and exercising – and I lost about 6 lb last month – but it took a month and in the past few days I started to gain it back, 0.5 lb by 0.5 lb per day. That’s when my mom told me about Scarsdale (a diet she used in college) and we’ve been doing it together. I love it. it’s AMAZING. I feel like I’ll actually get to the weight I’ve always wanted to reach – and not two months from now, either, but next week. It’s an incredible feeling. And I love the food – it’s all fresh, all delicious. GO FOR IT.

  5. glenda sutch

    i am 75 years old i weigh 180 lb . i have never been heavy but i eat way to much always
    and in the last 4 years have gained it all . i even eat at night , or cant sleep and i get up and eat and then fall asleep after i eat . i love nearly all foods in all catagories i like meat .but not without my meal although i do eat the meat that is left from supper that is left over . watching tv. i dont drink and i dont smoke . as soon as i eat somthing it seems then all i want to do is eat but if i dont start am ok i also have a problem ewith my esaficause and stomack

  6. ang

    hey everyone, so encouraging to hear your stories! i have ordered the book and just waiting on it. a quick question, i don’t drink either coffee or tea. when it states in the menu coffee/tea is than an OPTION or a MUST. are you allowed to substitute any diet soda in that place? thanks everyone 🙂

    • ted

      @ang- you can’t equate diet soda with coffee and tea as coffee and tea have a lot natural antioxidants and no unnatural chemicals. Diet-soda is full of chemicals that aren’t good for your body. 🙂

  7. Maria

    I am a 30 yr. old 5’3″ woman, who is trying to lose those last 10 pounds. I started the Scarsdale diet last week, and was very happy that I was losing a pound a day. However, the morning of the third day, I woke up very sick. I was faint, dehydrated, and was seeing black spots. I don’t know if I did not eat enough of the foods Dr. Tarnower said we could eat, as he does not specify portions. All I know, is that the incident scared me so much, I stopped the diet. I want to start up again, I’m just afraid it will happen again. Any tips on how to avoid this? I miss the healthy eating!

  8. Cat

    I am a Celiac (no gluten, wheat, barley, or rye). So my diet is very limited, however I can eat everything on this menu and all is very healthy for you. The “Nay Sayers” come from the medical community who would rather operate or subscribe a pill. Amazing that right in our fridge are the nutrients to heal and protect our bodies from the toxins in our everyday. I also recommend juice fasting as a great way to detoxify yourself too. I have had great results on the diet plan – when ever I find myself climbing up on the scale I just do a week and it is gone. Any informed dieter should know not to go back to the stuff that got you fat in the first place. Change of life not a quick fix.

  9. Stephanie

    You CAN keep the weight off IF you do the KEEP TRIM. It will stay off absolutely.. it did for me 🙂

  10. Gina

    I love this eating plan. I have used it before, and now that I am going thru some “hormone changes” ( I am 52), I needed some extra help to stay on track. Don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. I went on this for 2 weeks, and lost 12 pounds. I couldn’t even eat everything it posted for each day. I really don’t like grapefruit, so I sub with bananas, fresh strawberries, and fresh pears each day. I have more energy now than before. Now I am ready for my Keep trim “2 weeks”. But I can’t wait to go back on the actual plan. I also don’t like alot of meat, so I only eat half of what it says. Its also fun to weigh yourself every few days. Keeps me honest. Try this, you will love it, and be amazed!!

  11. camy

    hey, i am about to start this diet.i just had a baby a year ago and im still putting alot of weight on just cant stop eating lol. well love to get my figure back hope this deit works for me start tommorrow.

  12. Jo

    Shelly- you won’t be able to do it for a month (you will be sooo drained). You can do the second 2 weeks of it though which just means that you can eat anything the diet normally allows but whenever you want and you can add things like no sugar added jellies and some other fancier things. I would say if you do the two weeks (and make it through) then eat what is allowed but incorporate a bit more calories and food than you were doing during the first 2 weeks you will still lose more weight but just not as high amounts. Good luck to you!

  13. shelly

    I am about to start this diet tomorrow so lets hope this works. I want to lose about 30-40lbs. Is it ok if I do this diet for moe than 2weeks, say for more than a month or do I need to take a break?

  14. Jennifer

    I have done this diet a few times and I lost 17-20lbs in a 2 weeks period, each time. I haven’t however done the maintenance diet for 2 weeks in between. I do find that I really like it and luckily for me, I really like what he offers you to eat. The only issue I had was not putting any cream in my coffee. I am going to start this diet again in a few days and I am trying to get off coffee altogether so the diet will be easier. My only warning is that you can’t maintain this diet very long and if you don’t change your overall eating habits and start exercising, you WILL gain it back. I would recommend this diet for a quick fix to losing weight for a special event like a vacation. Either way, I still love it!

  15. AppleDapple

    BREAKFAST – The same every day: One half grapefruit, one slice dry protein toast, coffee or tea.

    MONDAY – Lunch: Lean cold cuts, tomato slices, coffee or tea. Dinner: Broiled fish, salad, one slice toast, grapefruit, coffee or tea.

    TUESDAY – Lunch: Fruit salad (any kind and as much as you like). Dinner: Plenty of steak, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, olives, brussels sprouts or cucumbers, coffee or tea.

    WEDNESDAY – Lunch: Tuna fish or salmon salad with lemon and vinegar, grapefruit, coffee or tea. Dinner: Two lamb chops, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, coffee or tea.

    THURSDAY – Lunch: Cold chicken, raw or cooked spinach, coffee or tea. Dinner: Two eggs, cottage cheese, cooked cabbage, one piece protein toast, coffee or tea.

    FRIDAY – Lunch: Assorted cheese slices, raw or cooked spinach, one piece protein toast, coffee or tea. Dinner: Broiled fish, salad (as many vegetables as desired), one piece protein toast, coffee or tea.

    SATURDAY – Lunch: Fruit salad, coffee or tea. Dinner: Cold chicken, tomatoes, grapefruit, coffee or tea.

    SUNDAY – Lunch: Hot or cold chicken, tomatoes, carrots, cooked cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower, grapefruit, coffee or tea. Dinner: Plenty of steak, celery, cucumbers or brussels sprouts, tomatoes, coffee or tea.

    In addition, the diet provides an alternative meal to be substituted for any lunch. It consists of one-half cup low fat pot cheese, one tablespoon low-fat sour cream with sliced fruit, six walnuts or pecans and a diet drink.

  16. lady

    just started yesterday. snacking is the hard part. but this is a breeze. i just came off the master cleanse two weeks ago. i could only do it for 4 days. that was HELL. this is a much better route seeing that you can actually EAT!

  17. GeraldP

    My wife and I found the Scarsdale medical diet in a thrift store, read over it and decided to buy and try it. I too have been on many diets and worked out and jogged in my life and found this to be the best program I have ever seen ! on our first try we both lost 10 lbs in the first week and then about 5 the next week. We didn’t take the break and stayed on it for along time, the only think that I noticed was feeling a lot better being less heavy and having a LOT more energy !
    We have gone on the diet several times since, now we do change some things to adopt to our lifestyles and yes I guess cheat in that we use low fat salad dressing, fruit for breakfast not just grapefruit and I even drink Coors light beer and still loose weight !
    We now make this a way of eating in our life even when not on it and it is truly the most incredible, best eating diet we have ever been on. We actually eat much much more healthy on this diet then when not on it ..
    I totally recommend this diet over any I have tried or heard of .. looked at the Atkins but I refuse to put bacon fat etc into my body and cant see how that can be worth losing a bit of weight .
    One more thing, with the chicken if we buy real chicken we always remove all the fat and skin from the chicken and by adding somthing like Cavenders greek seasons or Montreal steak spice it is delicious ! and believe me .. we will buy 3 bags of chicken legs and thights, by the time you remove the skin and fat and then pick up 2 hands full of this fat .. you will not want to ever eat the skin again ~ and don’t need it ..
    So have said enough but just try it and stick with it for the 2 weeks, should call this a Miracle diet !

  18. rosemary

    I have been on many many diets in my life. I am now 43 years old and had a weight problem since school. This diet is the most amazing diet I have ever encountered. I lost 5kilogram in the 2 weeks. Took a break for about a month over the december holiday season and ate everything that was wrong. I’ve put on 2 kilos again but started the diet a week ago and already lost 3.2kilos. I’m only about 2 kilos away from my goal weight. I will never follow another diet again. I tell all my friends about it.

  19. kay

    I just started this diet on Monday and am hoping for good results. It is encouraging hearing these success stories. I have a good 50lbs to lose and the incentive of a trip to Hawaii in 3 months. I am hoping to stick to this diet until then and look beach ready. I am wanting to incorporate exercise but don’t know where to begin with that. Any suggestions please!

  20. ashley

    Since starting this diet on monday [dec7th] I have more energy then I ever have, which I didn’t think was possible. And my craving pangs for sweets and all that other junk is slowly decreasing whenever I want a sweet, I just get some veggies or fruits and i`m satisfied. I haven’t weighed myself I will either do it on Friday or at the end of my diet. Wish me luck.!

  21. Pat

    Hi, I’m 30 and in pretty good shape. 5’7”, I was 148 pounds on Monday (2 days ago). Had a child in 2003, prior to the pregnancy I weighed 133 lbs. After the pregnancy, went up to 170 and stayed there until I worked it out, down to 135. Since then, I went through a difficult phase and ate great food (restaurant 3 times a day), few cups of wine with the suppers. Went back up to 158 lbs and was stuck there. After working out intensely for 2 months (P90X, very brutal), I was fit as hell and down to 145. But I have been unable to get myself down back to 140 and I lost my motivation to work out. If I can get down to 140, I’ll start working out again for fun and to keep the weight off. I completed 3 full days of this diet (by the book) with my mother and survived (only cheated once by adding a banana to my morning half grapefruit!) I will check my weight on Friday since it would be too discouraging to not see a weight change after all the diet limitations. Funny thing is, I’m getting used to this and I have an incredible boost of energy (that is since today; yesterday, I was ready to faint, fruits for lunch??!!). I’ll give you more feedback at the end of the week! I’m only doing this for a week since I have always been slightly anemic. After that, I’ll continue to eat well and workout! Good luck to all of you! Just for the energy level and the mental alertness, it is worth the try!

  22. Diana

    I was put on the scarsdale diet by my famiy doctor. He monitored me very carefully. He also gave me vitamin B-12 by injection. This helped with my energy, or lack of it. I was also given a sheet with a oneweek diet plan. You are right, the morning meal was always the same, but the other meals were different. I would follow the same plan for two weeks. then go off for two weeks and start over. It really worked. Unfortunatly I no longer have my copy, and my doctor passed away. How do we get the “original” diet plan. Will someone post it, if they have a copy? Thank You!…SAMM

  23. Jo

    Hey James- no exercise is needed as the calorie count is so low you will lose weight without exercise. This sounds like a lie but it is true. You will probably not have much energy for much anyway, but if you feel up for it and want to do some to speed up results you can- just be prepared not to be able to do much.

  24. James

    With this diet how much exercise is needed ?

  25. dee

    I have done this diet when I was much younger and lost 20lbs in 2wks and doing it now after having babies and still lost weight which is great. I love it, I have to say I tryed many and this is the only one that ever worked.

  26. cammey

    well i typed some words wrong way so i meant success story>>>and i meant 30 years not 3 years ,,,couldnt have 3 kids in 3 years looool ..sorry about that.

  27. cammey

    Hello all …this is my stsuccess story with scarsdale ,i am 47 years old and i have 3 childeren ,i did scarsdale during the 70s when i was 17 i started with 210 and i lost 50 lbs in just 4 months and during the 3 something years and after i got pregnant 3 times i only regained 20 lbs ,and today iam back to my great life style diet scarsdale no diet no plan worked for me like this one,,so wish me luck and good luck all :)…love cammey .

  28. monica

    my mother did this diet back in the 70’s. She lost so much weight. It was the best thing for her. I seem to remember her making cabbage, lamb and hamburger patties. what is the original menu?

  29. Nanette

    The Breakfast was the same every day for 14 days but I know that Lunch and dinner was different every day for 7 days and then it was repeated for the other 7 days. Has any one got the origanal diet?

  30. Nanette

    I have done this diet many times and it works. Only thing when we moved my book was mis layed.

  31. Ann

    This is not the full diet or at least not the one I followed 20+ years ago. The meal plan shown above looks like just a sample of one of the 7 day plan. Each day had a different meals. I also remember there being a suggestion for Protein Bread instead of Wholemeal Bread. I followed the orginal diet and lost a lot of weight and kept it off for several years. However, I was exercising daily(bike riding) and did not return to the eating habits that caused the weight gain in the first place. I was told that the Scarsdal Diet is not a diet one should stick to for very long periods of time because it could result in kidney problems. I followed it for a few months without any problems. It is important to eat exactly what the plan suggest. It’s the combination of the foods listed that cause the wieght loss.

  32. Derek

    This diet works. I first tried it in 1977 and I lost 14 lbs in 14 days. That was my goal and I maintained that weight pretty much for 25 years.I just ate and drank sensibly and weighed myself regualrly. If i went up a couple of lbs then two days back on the diet and evrything was ok.

  33. Lah

    Ive tried this diet a couple of months ago and I can definately swear by it… People say with “fad diets” you just gain all the weight back.. NOT TRUE! you only gain the weight back if you go back to your old junk food eating habits. I lost a total of I believe 9-10lbs and kept it off for a goood while..I am getting back onto the diet because I want to lose another 10lbs for my birthday! wish me luck!


  34. Kris

    I love the diet, the only part I have a problem with is the no drinking!

  35. Lana

    I followed this diet (if not to the letter, in principle, at least) and lost 60 pounds–and kept it off for 20 years. I credit the diet a lot; however, I also did a daily exercise routine to help with weight loss and toning as I lost weight. Because of the exercise, I probably always ate a bit more calorie-wise, but anything I ate was in keeping with the diet’s principles and I never over-consumed the simple carbohydrates. Unfortunately, I gained weight again during midlife while going through some very stressful times. Now I am back to the Scarsdale Diet principles — and exercise — to lose again. I have about 25 pounds to go. My exercise routine is 90-minute walk (and/or 40 minutes on a stationary bike) 6x a week, 30-minute calisthenics/pilates-like workout 5x a week, plus 20-minutes with arm weights 3x a week. Oh, and I do the Wii Fit sometimes, too.

  36. Lil

    This diet really works and I lost a stone in two weeks despite having a couple of new potatoes with the evening meal, a glass of red wine at the weekend and ceasar salad dressing (not much!). At no time did I feel ill or hungry, in fact I felt energised.
    I first did the diet in 1980 and go back on it everytime I feel the weight creeping back on. Funnily enough the diet is virtually identical in principle to the ideas in the new book ‘The Diabetic Revolution’ which my husband has just bought for himself.
    I stillwalked my dog for 7 miles a day and worked out on my rowing machine whilst on the diet but ate an extra slice of granary bread if I felt weak.
    Good luck.

  37. southern belle

    hello from the heart of Dixie USA. yes, this diet definitely works. tried it many years ago along with my mother and brother. we lost so much!! yes, the breath thing is yukky but just keep you a little spray breath stuff in your pocket. also, the note about buying the book is so important. when we first began i had a copy of only the daily menus. even that was an improvement over the way we normally eat here in the deep south. i was raised on cornbread, fatback, biscuits, potatoes, sausage, gravy, fried catfish, hushpuppies, homemade custard ice cream, syrupy sweet iced tea and i didn’t wear it well!!! needless to say, when i got the book and read it through, we had made several mistakes, but even then had lost many pounds. when we really got on track, it was astonishing. try it. stick to it as closely as humanly possible and you will shock yourself. do the full two weeks, then the next two recommended. you can’t fail if you follow it like a prescription. and that is really what it is. a prescription for weight loss, for huge energy, for GOOD HEALTH. i wonder who it killed?? never heard that one before!! unless you have a serious medical condition {check with MS first!} you have nothing to lose but{t} fat. show it to your MD anyway. i would bet he will give you a quick go-ahead!!!

  38. Trissy

    Today is the second day since i’ve been on this diet, and i’ve lost 1.5 pounds which to me was really unbelievable! Love this diet

  39. Ana

    I am just about to start tomarrow and bought all the ingredients today. I have about 55 lbs to lose total but thought this was a great way to jumpstart my diet and healthy eating. I was wondering if adding exercise would help lose more or with some diets it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I work 12 hour shifts so squeezing them in would be hard but if it would really help I will do it. If anyone knows, I’d love to hear it. Thanks!

  40. Tami

    I did this diet back in 1979, and lost 26lbs. I have saved the book and love the diet. I have also shared it with so many people over the years, that they too want to start it. I love the food and that you don’t have to count out calories. I am now 51 and am going to do it for 20 pounds, and hopefully keep it off too!

  41. kim

    I did this diet years ago and lost cellulite, inches and weight – I need to lose 20 lbs and am beginning this diet again tomorrow, I love the breakfast and lunch, the snacking is the hard part 🙂

  42. Isabel

    I started this diet on Monday and i thought that i was probably going to starve to death but that was not the case.I actually didn’t find it that hard to follow and to stick with it. I have tried other diets and after a few days i just gave up, but this one seems to be going great. I am determined to follow it, and hopefully loose some weight. I actually do feel full after every meal and if i do feel a little bit hungry between meals, i just snack on celery and carrots as mentioned, which is not bad with a little bit of limon on them. Anyways, it is great to see that this diet has worked for many, can wait to see the results!!

  43. jo

    oops i just noticed there are 2 jo’s here. i’ll go by jolene.

  44. jo

    lisa, i have the same goals as you. i am going to lose 20 to 25 pounds. have been trying for years & they won’t budge. i am 5’1 & now weigh 137. i bought all the required groceries this morning & officially started this morning as well. i already feel better believe it or not. i did a workout & feel very energized! good luck.

  45. Jo

    Response to Leah:
    I didn’t gain any of my 10 lbs back… the rule of thumb with this diet though is that if ever you regain 4 pounds go right back on it so that you do not regain the weight in a yo-yo style. Just make sure that when you finish you don’t eat lots of junk and you should be fine. Honestly though, when you are done you don’t crave junk anymore and you won’t want to ruin your progress. Good luck!

  46. Leah

    I am thinking about doing this diet, but after finishing it and going on a low calorie diet such as 1500 calories a day or so. Would I gain weight?

  47. vivian

    This diet is awesome. You get to eat salmon, lean steak or pork and chicken, plenty or fruits and vegetambles. So to whoever think its not nutritious then tell me what’s more nutritious than those foods.

  48. Emma

    Did this diet a few weeks ago and I am now on it again. I lost 12lbs in the 10 days I managed to keep it up for, and I kept it off! It is very tough and prepare to be hungry but with a bit of will power its worth it. Seeing a pound off or more every morning is a great motivator. I am doing it now again after giving myself a break. I would recommend it if you need a kick start or if you only have a few pounds to go that just wont shift. Good luck.

  49. lisa

    i just started the diet today I have about 20 to 25lbs to lose. So after 2 weeks I hope to almost be at the weight I used to be at. I am also planing to run alittle. I heard from so people that you won’t be eating enought to do any exercise. Any thought out there about doing exercise while on this diet?

Last Reviewed: January 16, 2018