Scarsdale Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

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.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

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.


  • 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
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: March 4, 2015. Disclaimer


  1. 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.

  2. 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!!!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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. 🙂

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. Stephanie

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

  9. 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!!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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?

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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 !

  17. 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.

  18. 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!