The Infamous Sensation from 1970s – The Scarsdale Diet

scarsdale diet
Credit: Tips For Womens

Scarsdale diet was a hit back in the 1970s. It could trim down to 20 pounds (9 kg) of weight loss in less than two weeks. The diet imposed extreme restrictions on food intake but has been met with criticism by the medical community.

Dr. Herman Tarnower, a cardiologist from Scarsdale, New York, formulated the diet after many pieces of research. This article looks at the pros and cons of the Scarsdale diet to review its application in the present day.

What Made The Scarsdale Diet So Famous?

Dr. Tarnower formulated a two-page sheet to assist his heart patients. The sheet was grounds for the Scarsdale Diet, which was later published in book form in 1979.

The book, called The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, suggested intake of a mere 1,000 calories per day without paying any regard to age, weight, sex, BMI, or activity levels.

With 43% protein, 22.5% fat, and 34.5% carbs, the book forbids any snacks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, avocados, beans, and lentils.

Dr. Tanower passed away within a year of the publication and did not live to see the book being heavily criticized for suggesting life-threatening combinations.

A calorie intake of only 1,000 per day and that too from strictly approved foods makes it difficult to follow in the long run. Moreover, it is dangerous for ones health.

The Infamous Diet Regime

Although not currently in print, the book suggests a protein-rich diet based on a list of approved foods. The total calorie intake cannot cross the 1,000 calorie barrier in a day.

The book suggests the diet should only be followed for a fortnight. No snacks can be taken during this period. Moreover, it recommends at least 4 cups of liquid intake be it coffee, plain tea, water, or diet soda.

A fortnight later, the book transitions readers to a Keep Slim Program.

Dr. Tanower’s Keep Slim program

The program eases after 14-days. The users are allowed some bread, some bakery goods, and an alcoholic beverage per day.

The list of approved goods has to be adhered to, but the portion sizes can be varied.

ALSO READ: Weight Loss: Brief Summary of a 1500 Calorie Diet

The book suggests maintaining the Keep Slim Program until weight gain is seen. If weight gain is experienced the user has to do the 14-day initial Scarsdale diet again.

The Do’s and Don’ts of The Scarsdale Diet

The allowed list is strictly restricted one and includes

  • Non-starchy uncooked vegetables
  • Some Fruits
  • Wheat and grains (Protein Only)
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (Low Fat Only)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beverages: Unsweetened drinks and Diet Soda

The formula for what is not allowed is quite simple. Whatever is not in the above list is a banned item. The diet also prohibits sweet potatoes, avocados, beans, and lentils even though they are deemed healthy. There are no stated reasons why these foods are prohibited.

Does it Help In Weight Loss?

The method used by the diet is an effective one. Curtail the intake while keeping the outflow constant. This creates a calorie deficit, which starts breaking the stored food down.

As the human body uses up stored glycogen and muscle mass, it releases water, which contributes even more to the weight loss.

The diet sources 43% calories from proteins that can do wonders during weight loss practices. However, a low-calorie diet paired with steep restrictions leads back to weight gain when the diet stops.

Although the Scarsdale diet has its flaws, it is simple to understand, has high protein foods, and is relatively inexpensive.

The Downsides

The side effects of the Scarsdale diet may pose a danger to health.

It eliminates several healthy options and has no flexibility. A follower will have to give up cultural traditions and celebrations.

Restrictive eating practices damage your ability to control your food intake. In addition to that, restrictive measures in the Scarsdale diet can increase your risk of overeating.

ALSO READ: Dopamine, organic clock hyperlink to snacking, overeating

Most medical experts think that the diet is unhealthy and unsustainable. They suggest healthy lifestyle habits, portion control, healthy cooking, regular exercise, and stress management for an effective weight loss.

Scarsdale Diet Leads to Yo-Yo Dieting

The diet can cause weight cycling, also called yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting causes constant cycles of quick weight loss followed by weight regain.

This is damaging for the body both physically and mentally. It can permanently slow down metabolism, increase the risk of weight regain, poor body image, and cause erratic eating thoughts and behaviors.

Diets containing nutrient-rich foods, which may have a high-calorie count, can lower the risk of obesity, mortality, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and certain cancers.

The Final Verdict

To adhere to the 1000 calorie limit, the portion sizes are bound to be small, and the approved list of diets is nutrient-deficit.

The monotonous regime can be damaging to the body as well as the brain. In the 1970s, the people weren’t this literate, and the reach of information was not such. While you may lose weight rapidly, the diet itself is not sustainable. Scarsdale diet is highly restrictive and deficient in calories as well as nutrients.

A diet based on minimally processed foods, an active lifestyle, sufficient sleep, and stress management can help more than any such restrictive diet, which can have devastating side effects.

About the author

Adeena Tariq Lari

The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.

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