Scarsdale diet

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Cover of The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet

The Scarsdale diet, a high-protein low-carbohydrate fad diet designed for weight loss, created in the 1970s by Herman Tarnower and named for the town in New York where he practiced cardiology, is described in the book The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet Plus Dr. Tarnower's Lifetime Keep-Slim Program. Tarnower wrote the book together with self-help author Samm Sinclair Baker.[1]


The diet is similar to the Atkins Diet and Stillman diet in calling for a high protein low-carbohydrate diet, but also emphasizes the importance of fruits and vegetables.[2][3] The diet restricts certain foods but allows an unrestricted amount of animal protein, especially eggs, fish, lean meats and poultry.[2] To eat on Sundays, the diet recommends "plenty of steak" with tomatoes, celery or brussels sprouts.[2] The Scarsdale diet is low-calorie, restricted to 1,000 calories per day and lasts between seven and fourteen days.[4]

The book was originally published in 1978[5] and received an unexpected boost in popular sales when its author, Herman Tarnower, was murdered in 1980 by his jilted lover Jean Harris.[1] During her trial, Harris' lawyer argued that she had been the book's "primary author".[4]

Health risks[edit]

Medical experts have listed the Scarsdale diet as an example of a fad diet, as it carries potential health risks and does not instill the kind of healthy eating habits required for sustainable weight loss.[6] It is unbalanced because of the high amount of meat consumed.[4] The diet's high fat ratio may increase the risk of heart disease.[7] People following the diet can lose much weight at first, but this loss is generally not sustained any better than with normal calorie restriction.[7]

Nutritionist Elaine B. Feldman has commented that high-protein low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins and Scarsdale diets are nutritionally deficient, produce diuresis and are "clearly unphysiologic and may be hazardous".[8] The Scarsdale diet was criticized by Henry Buchwald and colleagues for "serious nutritional deficiencies".[9] Negative effects of the diet include constipation, nausea, weakness and bad breath due to ketosis.[9] The diet has also been criticized for being deficient in vitamin A and riboflavin.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Anthony Haden-Guest (March 31, 1980). "The Headmistress and the Diet Doctor". New York Magazine.
  2. ^ a b c Berland, Theodore. (1983). Rating the Diets. Beekman House. pp. 96-101. ISBN 0-517-40839-2
  3. ^ Swartz, Jacqueline (March 15, 1982). "The sense and nonsense of the best-selling diet books". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 126 (6). Canadian Medical Association: 696–701. PMC 1863236. PMID 7066828.
  4. ^ a b c Gilman, Sander L. (2007). Diets and Dieting: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 268-269. ISBN 978-0-415-97420-2
  5. ^ Tarnower, Herman; Samm Sinclair. (1978). The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet Plus Dr. Tarnower's Lifetime Keep-Slim Program. Rawson, Wade Publishers: 1st edition. ISBN 9780892560783
  6. ^ Hodgson P (2013). "Review of Popular Diets". In Storlie J, Jordan HA (eds.). Nutrition and Exercise in Obesity Management. Springer. p. 15. ISBN 978-94-011-6719-2.
  7. ^ a b Alters S, Schiff W (22 February 2012). Chapter 10: Body Weight and Its Management (Sixth ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 327. ISBN 978-1-4496-3062-1. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Feldman, Elaine B. (1988). Essentials of Clinical Nutrition. F. A. Davis Company. p. 141. ISBN 978-0803634312
  9. ^ a b Buchwald, Henry; Cowan, George S. M; Pories, Walter J. (2007). Surgical Management of Obesity. Elsevier. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-4160-0089-1
  10. ^ Howard, Elliott J; Roth, Susan A. (1986). Health Risks. Body Press. p. 173. ISBN 9780895864420