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The Scarsdale Diet

The Scarsdale diet is a diet from the 70's that is based around the idea of eating proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the portions 43% protein, 22.5% fat and 34.5% carbohydrates. To this day it still remains as one of the top selling diet books of all time. Initially when the Scarsdale diet was created the risks of a high protein diet were not yet known, but since then a high protein diet is generally not recommended namely due to the pressure it puts on the kidneys and the risk it poses in developing osteoporosis. Even when established in the 70’s the diet was only ever recommended to be followed two weeks at a time.

The Scarsdale diet claims the ability to help people lose an average of one pound per day. This is probably an over optimistic and unhealthy weight goal. The diet consists predominately of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean meat with only 3 meals per day - no food or snacks in between. Particularly with respect to fruits and vegetables, certain parts of the menu allow you to eat as much of a particular food as you would like.

Strict menu of foods results in choices that aren't all that appealing and tasty to most people though the high protein component of the diet aids in a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. However a primary reason why the diet may be difficult for many people is, just like many other diets, it concentrates predominately on food restrictions with little regard for food enjoyment.

Funnily enough nearly every meal for a week recommends coffee or tea, perhaps because the caffeine content contributes to a temporary increase in metabolism. Of course this ignores the negative side effects associated with caffeine.

The Scarsdale diet also recommended drinking at least 4 glasses of water per day which is easily the minimum any person would be recommended to drink. It is no secret that water is beneficial to flushing the system of toxins and aiding in weight loss in general.

Scarsdale diet plan

The following is an example of a typical day on the Scarsdale diet plan.

Breakfast

  • 1/2 grapefruit – but if they’re unavailable ( 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple or 1/2 mango or 1/2 papaya or 1/2 canteloupe or a generous slice of honeydew, casaba or other available melon)
  • Slice of wholemeal or protein toast (no spreads or butter)
  • Coffee (no sugar or milk)

Lunch

  • Canned tuna
  • Salad (like lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and celery) with oil-free dressing
  • Coffee/Tea/Diet Soda/Water

Dinner

  • Roast lamb (with all visible fat removed) or fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, or vegetable protein
  • Salad with lemon and vinegar dressing
  • Coffee

Drinks
Water, diet drinks, tea, and soda water.

The doctor who invented the diet recommends that dieters walk 3km each day, so obviously exercise comes into play. However, it is unlikely that a person would be able to effectively do this much physical activity given the low calorie intake. The calorie intake is one reason many critics slam the diet, because it is so low and perhaps not enough to function optimally let alone carry out various forms of exercise.

The original Scarsdale approach isn't followed much these days but there are variants of the diet that are more suited to modern nutritional beliefs. Originally as the diet was only recommended to be followed for a total of two weeks, Dr. Tarnower then suggested that it be followed by his keep trim programme, which although not quite as strict as the Scarsdale component (containing more calories), still banned many foods.