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

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  1. Rocki

    This basic diet without all the frills and substitutes works well and if your active, no doubt will you lose 1 lb a day. You cannot stay on this diet for over 14 days. You have to get off of it for a week or 2 and go back on. Anyone who thinks loosing more then 14 lbs in 14 days is nuts. This one works.

  2. Cristy Ortiz

    This is the only diet that works for me EVERY TIME I do it!!!! Everyday I lose from 1/2 lb to 1 lb. I don’t exercise, although I should and would probably lose more weight faster, BUT, you have to follow it to the letter! I love this diet….and it’s easy!

  3. Veronica

    I forgot about this diet.. I did for my high school prom 10 years ago, during 14 straight days and then resting with the 3 days program I did it for 3 months and I lost from 168 lbs to 124 lbs it was great and never fainted or anything.. its ver though that true but worth every day!!
    I gain some weight so I am planning to re-start it!! but on monday LOL 🙂 if you do it by heart its worth every day.. besides its only 14 days straight and you can loose at the minimum 8 lbs ..

  4. sandy

    you need the book to do this diet properly. it works great i did it 2 differt times and lost weight. but as with any diet you much continue on it forever untill you learn to manage your bad eating habits. go for it. but the book please….

  5. Karen

    I have done this diet numerous times in the past and had great success. Am starting again tomorrow. Ketones are harmful if you have them for a length of time. Ketosis is one of the deadlies for diabetics. Had a daughter with diabeties and she would have ketones and then turn acidotic. She almost died a couple of times. Ketones prove that you are burning your own fat, so on Scarsdale you want ketones, but like the diet says, stay on for only two weeks. They should not do any harm then.

  6. Jo

    Response to Bosco:

    I am about 30 pounds overweight and did the diet for 2 weeks. I had a few days that I cheated on as it is December and I attended a few catered functions but I lost 8 pounds. I am taking a few weeks off now to finish the year and in the New Year am going to do the two weeks properly to lose the extra weight but I found even though I am not EXTREMELY overweight it worked well and would have probably much more if I had followed it perfectly. It also changes how you look at food and makes you more aware of what you eat and in what quantities. I think it will be helpful long term in keeping me from slipping back into my chocolate addication.

  7. Kris

    As a nutrition student, one of the first things we learn is that ketosis is dangerous! It can lead to a coma if it goes on for too long and is seriously damaging to a persons long term health.

  8. Jo

    December 6 2008

    I just started this diet for the first time a few days ago. My parents and sister have all done it with great results. The advice they gave me is to NOT CHEAT AT ALL! Not only because the diet will not work, but also if you do cheat, even one bite of a cookie you will lose the motivation and start to crave all the junk food again. Also I have been told to drink plenty of water to prevent kidney damage. Good luck all!

  9. bosco

    do you have to be extemely over weight to achieve massive weight loss in the 2 weeks?:)?

  10. Juana

    I am 69 years of age and throughout the years, I know people who lost tons of weight on this diet. Remember, you must not stay on it for more than 14 days; and by all means, take your vitamins each day.

  11. Suzanne

    This diet has been the backbone of fitness for me all my life. I’ve never known anyone to lose 21 pounds in two weeks, but you will lose a few pounds and you will eat healthier and more mindfully. Like most fad diets, it’s a good way to jump start a healthier lifestyle.

  12. lisa

    I did this diet when i was 13 yrs old…i weighed 165 pounds…i lost 35lbs and kept it off…that was 1979..

  13. Angelina

    Sorry I lost 7 pounds in 5 days not two days.

  14. Angelina

    I try this diet for the frist time and in two days I lost 7pounds, Im going on holiday in 3 weeks and im back an the diet hoping to lost at least 30 pounds. This diet is great.

  15. Renee

    It works, ketosis is quick weightloss and not dangerous, I lost 18 lbs over the 2 weeks and was very happy.



  17. geckobeach

    I’ve done this regimen in the past, and it worked. I tried the different version (vegetarian, low budget, gourmet) from the book, and had excellent results. As one reader states, this is only one sample of the seven menus required. I learned a lot about nutrition from having done this diet. I also was running at that time over 7 miles per day, so the low caloric count was never a problem. Try it, you’ll like it, but get the book from a thrift store, read it, and see the results for yourself.

  18. Jean

    I followed this diet when I was in my 20’s and lost 15 pounds. I kept it off for years. Now that I am in my 50’s and menopausal, I have gained it back and more. I have been on the diet for 5 days now and have lost 5 pounds. You really have to follow it exactly as it says though! If it says eat green beans, eat green beans…not peas! It does say no cream in your coffee but I’ll admitt, I use fat free half’n half and I am still losing. I love this diet!

  19. Loretta

    I just started today and read all of the comments, I agree with Ally, the first day is hard, but I’m gonna keep on going, I’ve got a wedding to got to on saturday and I want to ware someting nice!!

  20. Gerry

    I followed the diet about five years ago and lost 60lbs in less than 2 months. I rode my bike 20 miles a day and it really made me feel good. I am starting the diet again today, you eat nothing but good foods. Just have to get through the first couple of days like any diet.

  21. Diane

    Is there a weekly sample menu I can follow?

    Thanks, Diane

  22. sheena

    my mother told me about this diet today and i am going to try it next month. from what i have read it is strict but effective.

  23. Sandy

    This diet works but ketosis can be very damaging to your health.

  24. Kristi

    This diet is great… I lost 130 pounds in 12 months and kept it off for more than 5 years. I got married recently and before I knew it I had packed on 30 pounds. I am excited to start the eating plan and pull off this extra weight. BUY THE BOOK– it is great, lots of tips and small enough to slip in your purse for a quick reference.

  25. shpette

    I remember back in the day, I tried this diet and it worked for me. I am now older and also a menopausal woman. I work out only 3 days a week and walk or swim the other days. I will be trying this again and I know it will work, I will also keep you all posted.
    Be Blessed

  26. trying

    Those of you menaupausal women in your 50’s….I too am in this boat and have gained 20lbs. How is it working for you? I’m going to give it a try. But I work out 5 times a week, I hope i’ll have enough energy. I’ll keep you posted too.

  27. Mark

    This diet definitely works. Did it twice and lost weight big time. My problem was KEEPING IT OFF. I did finally found a diet that shed the pounds almost as good as this diet (I won’t mention the name, for obvious reasons), and I am still eating the food after I am off the diet for a time now (just more healthy carbs added on). For me, anyway, the diets like this one work, but the eating habits MUST change if it’s gonna last long term.

  28. sue

    I tried this diet but i wasnt sure if it was necessary to eat everything in the meal at one time for it to work. Like can you save your grapefruit from dinner for later?

  29. jackie

    I wanted to look good to my brother’s wedding and went on Scarsdale diet. It worked, I lost a dress size and looked amazing. It works for 2 weeks, if you keep to it.

  30. Anonymous

    What is posted here is a sample of one day and it’s not even accurate – if you are interested in this diet, I suggest buying the book – it’s still available and only $7 on Amazon. I lost 65 pounds on this diet in 5 months. It works if you follow it as written and you are not hungry at all. I never had more energy than when I followed this plan. It includes veggies and fruit, lean protein and cheese. Just have to give up the sugar and white flour, potatoes, pasta, rice, junk food.

  31. al

    i am on scarsdale diet now, but my stomach starts to hurt. What do I do?

  32. ALLY

    I am on this diet right now and I lost 4 pounds in four days..I feel great…this food makes you full..the only hard day is the first day. Just drink a lot of water throughout the day. All the other fad diets I tried are impossible and basically make you starve. This diet involves plenty of eating, and eating healthy food to change your lifestyle. I can’t wait to see the results if I lose a pound a day.

  33. anonymous

    This kind of diet is designed to help people lose weight in a short period of time. After losing weight, one should then get on a good healthy eating plan.

  34. Anonymous

    Have you read the effects of this diet???

  35. Maria

    I’ve tried this diet after having had my two kids in my late 20’s and early 30’s – now, in my 50’s and beginning menopause, I’m going to try it again. The food is fresh and nutritious, can’t get better than that. If you don’t have will power, don’t bother.

  36. Zippity Do Dah Day

    You have to have will power to do this diet. If you fail at every diet, this is not for you. Nothing is really. But if you follow it for 2 weeks you will lose 20lbs, then you segway into the South Beach diet phase 2 for 2 or 3 weeks and go back on the Scarsdale diet. With exercise, I was able to get my pre baby body back in a couple of months. Like any diet you have to stick to it, you can’t cheat at all or it won’t work and you will be miserable.

  37. Cristina

    This diet is amazing I lost 20 pounds! It’s just a sample. There are really healthy foods and foods I would eat even if I wasn;t on a diet

  38. Kelly

    I tried this diet about 10 years ago and it worked great!! After having a couple kids and being settled for quite awhile it’s time for me to try it out again. I’m very excited to start! But like everyone else keeps saying, this is a short term diet with excellent results, you just have to have the self control afterwords to keep it off.

  39. mal

    Thanks everyone, can’t wait to try it. Ill keep my results posted. TTyl in 2 weeks!!!!

  40. fritz

    I also tried this diet when in my 30’s and it did work wonderfully. The food is healthy, but during the 2 weeks on, it must be followed closely. Now in my 50’s, with menopause weight to lose I started it again today. The food is great, you fill up! Will also keep you posted.

  41. Valerie

    I first tried this diet when I was in my teens after seeing the great result my dad had from following it. It does work and you do lose a large amount of weight. It’s just impossible to keep off though. You really are not hungry on this diet. If anything, you don’t want to eat any more meat. The disgusting breath too is very weird. It smells sickly sweet, kind of like people with diabetes’ breath smell. This diet’s great for the short-term gain!

  42. anonymous

    I tried this diet when I was in my 20’s and it worked. I am in my 50’s and I am going to try it again. I will keep you posted. It also helped me get back on track on making the right choices of food. I believe that some people need a day by day meal plan. Nothing complicated. The menu is pretty basic. This is not a long term diet. A good diet that will give you results and motivate you to continue eating right. TRY IT!!

  43. suzie

    this diet is the only one that has truly worked for me. i switch the breakfast fruit up all the time because I do not like grapefruit.

  44. opal

    This diet DOES work – I’ve done it and definitely saw results but there are a couple thing that must be taken into consideration with this diet: If you’re going to be successful at this diet you must, must follow it accurately, the meal plans are such FOR A REASON and substituting anything (even if it’s also healthy) may spoil the overall effectivness. In any case, the diet does give you alternatives.
    As the book says this is strictly a 2 week diet and to continue longer than that is NOT recommended. This is pretty much a fairly healthy diet plan but lacks enough fat for long term use.

  45. ash

    i remember going on this diet when I was younger and it did work.
    sometimes you need to be told….EAT THIS. yes, eventually, you need to learn how to make the right choices, but let’s be serious – sometimes you need to lose weight for an event, etc. and you’re motivated and you want to follow RULES…it’s alot simpler.

  46. eve

    with regards to the 2 angry anonymous people. angry with life, and angry with this diet who think doctors are stupid, ive done this diet once and lost all the weight i needed to. it wasnt difficult to follow, and i was satisafied with the quantities. the problem doesnt lie with the diet, but more with your lack of self discipline and self control (which is most probably why you have a fat arse to start with)
    so here’s a tip, stop insulting the world around you and blaming everyone else for the crap that YOUVE been putting down YOUR throat (unless you were force fed like a goose) and stop eating sh*t.
    oh … and get a treadmill

  47. Anonymous

    That is only a sample of a one day menu and not even completely accurate. This is the best diet in the world! It has always worked for me and is an extremly healthy way of eating! Especially compared to the junk I used to stuff in my mouth. Most meals, except for breakfast, you get to eat as much of the listed food as you want! I have lost 15 pounds in 23 days and feel better than I have in a long time!

  48. Anonymous

    I have done this diet before. You are full after eating. You can do it for two weeks and you will notice a change. People just can’t over do it!!


    stop killing people with this diet or you will burn in the pits of HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL for doing this strange and wicked sin stop or be punished you imbecils how dare you think people can be satisfied with this MESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. well that the dumb doctors of today BUTTHEADSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

  50. anonymous

    this diet stinks and hoever uses it is going to di from mal-nutrition or something because the stupid doctors now cant think o using things god blessed us with to handle these situations

Last Reviewed: January 16, 2018