Scarsdale Diet Plan: Benefits, Risks and Results – LIVESTRONG.COM

Posted: March 12, 2020 at 4:48 am

A lot can happen in two weeks. You can quit a job, pick up a new hobby or finish a hefty novel. But losing a substantial amount of weight in two weeks? Not a good idea.

Breakfast on the Scarsdale diet includes half a grapefruit, dry toast and black coffee.

Credit: Oxyggen/iStock/GettyImages

That's the promise behind the Scarsdale diet, though. And you might think because it was created by a doctor that the plan is a healthy approach to weight loss. Here's what you should know.

The Scarsdale diet as we know it today stems from The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, a book published in the late 1970s by cardiologist Herman Tranower, founder of the Scarsdale Medical Center. It was a trendy diet in its time, much like keto and intermittent fasting today, and it promised to help followers lose up to 20 pounds in just 14 days.

Fast results usually mean drastic measures. So what does the diet entail?

The Scarsdale diet is a very restrictive, low-calorie, two-week regimen. The macros (carbs, protein and fat) are calibrated to supposedly increase 'fat burn': 34.5 percent carbohydrates, 22.5 percent fat and 43 percent protein. (For reference, the current recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board are that adults get 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbs, 20 to 35 from fat and 10 to 35 percent from protein.)

After two weeks, followers move to the maintenance program.

Foods you can enjoy on the diet:

The diet provides a very specific meal plan for what you can eat day-by-day for one week (its then repeated for week two):




In general, the majority of the meals are focused on proteins and vegetables with some fruit.

The ketogenic and Scarsdale diets have some similarities: They're both focused on the distribution of specific macros and are low in carbohydrates. But there are a lot of differences, too.

For starters, the keto diet is higher in fat and lower in protein (70 to 80 percent fat and 10 to 20 percent protein), according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Keto is also much lower in carbs, accounting for just 5 to 10 percent of total calories.

The Scarsdale diet features a prescribed meal plan for a set period of time, while the keto diet allows you to eat what you want for the most part, as long as you stay within macronutrient guidelines. The keto diet doesn't have a set timeframe, either. And finally, one of the most significant differences is that keto doesn't mean low-calorie, while the restricted-calorie feature is a crucial tenet of the Scarsdale diet.

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Yes. You can and probably will lose weight on the Scarsdale diet if you follow it as recommended.

The trouble is, it's a very restrictive diet, making it difficult to adhere to. While it can help you lose weight quickly, it doesn't teach you how to eat in a healthy and sustainable way so once the diet is 'over,' you'll likely resort back to old habits and gain back the weight you lost.

If this doesn't sound like such a big deal, consider that losing weight too quickly likely means you're losing lean muscle mass instead of fat, according to the Mayo Clinic, which can slow your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight down the road.

Unless you're under the supervision of a doctor, aim for a healthy rate of weight loss, which means 1 to 2 pounds per week, per the Mayo Clinic. To achieve this, you'll need to cut between 500 and 1,000 calories from your daily diet. But keep in mind that women shouldn't fall below 1,200 calories per day and men should stay above 1,500 to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Just because a diet "works" doesn't mean it's healthy. There are a lot of red flags with this diet, including:

A healthier approach is one that's more conservative and teaches healthy habits for the long run. Its also one thats evidence-based and proven not to just be healthy, but safe, too. The Mediterranean diet is one such diet with decades of research supporting its many benefits, like supporting heart health, weight management, brain health and reducing the risk of cancer. It likely wont help you lose 20 pounds in two weeks but itll most likely be better for your health, including your weight, in the long term.

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Scarsdale Diet Plan: Benefits, Risks and Results - LIVESTRONG.COM

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