Scarsdale Medical Diet: Does it Work?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

The Scarsdale medical diet is a diet program developed in the 70s by physician and cardiologist, Herman Tarnower. The diet program was named after a town in New York, which Tarnower conducted his medical practice. Initially, the diet was meant exclusively to certain patients. Eventually, the diet became a sensation among individuals who simply want to lose weight.

The Scarsdale medical diet was first featured in Tarnower’s book, “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet plus Dr. Tarnower’s Lifetime Keep-Slim Program.”

How the Scarsdale Medical Diet Works

The Scarsdale medical diet is a very strict, low-calorie diet program. It’s comprised of a structured and specific menu eaten on the first 14 days then a less rigid menu on the next 14 days. The caloric intake of the dieter is proportioned into a macronutrient split of 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 35.5% carbohydrates. After losing weight for 14 days, you will transition to a “Keep Trim” plan, which is another 14 days of dieting to maintain your weight.

The Scarsdale medical diet is notorious for its preciseness. Do not expect variety or substitutions. The concept of the diet is to stimulate fat burning and trigger a safe state of ketosis within the body. Although it’s similar to Atkins diet, Tarnower’s diet program contains less fat because as the body requires more fat, it automatically pulls energy from stored fat. When the body burns off stored fat instead of fat from the food you ate, you lose more weight. According to Dr. Tarnower, a person can lose as much as 20 pounds in just 14 days by following his program.

The Menu

During breakfast, the menu includes half a grapefruit, a sliced toasted protein bread, and black coffee or tea. The menu will depend on the day. For instance, Mondays are limited to lean cold cuts, tomato slices, and coffee or tea. Dinner is usually a salad, fish or shellfish and a slice of protein bread. You can also eat half a grapefruit and coffee. Throughout the day, you can snack on celery or carrot sticks.

But is it effective?

The short answer is yes, it can help you lose weight. However, this diet program is no different from other diet programs including the Atkins Diet. Most health experts agree, the Scarsdale medical diet is effective because it limits calorie consumption. And any diet program that limits a person’s caloric intake will result in weight loss. This diet is no better than other diets that demand to change a dieter’s eating behavior.

Unfortunately, the Scarsdale medical diet has been slammed by other doctors and dieticians because it’s excessively restrictive. The menu lacks variety. The program itself discourages dieters from eating certain foods. Even substitution is not allowed. And the more restrictive a diet is, the more dangerous it is to the health.

Critics also said that the weight lost from the Scarsdale medical diet is irrelevant because it does not keep the weight off for good. In addition, health experts say that the diet has very little benefits to body re-composition.

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