THE COMPLETE SCARSDALE MEDICAL DIET

This popular high-protein diet swept the country many years ago. Authored by Herman Tarnower, M.D., it was featured in the New York Times, Family Circle, and many other newspapers and magazines. The Scarsdale Diet encourages you to eat lots of meat and claims that you can lose up to a pound a day. The foods that may be eaten every day are carefully controlled, but portion sizes are pretty much up to the dieter. They are only warned that they should not eat so much that their stomachs become uncomfortably overloaded. I don’t believe that this will work with people who tend to overeat as a rule. Simply telling them not to stuff themselves until they can’t eat anymore is not exactly the cornerstone of a healthful, lifelong eating regimen. It might work for people who are already used to moderate portions, but many obese people are accustomed to eating quite a bit.

And not only are the parameters weak and poorly defined, the Scarsdale Diet is potentially dangerous. Like the Atkins Diet and many others, it works on the principle of inducing an

unnatural state—ketosis—into the body. Even Dr. Tarnower, who devised the diet, warns you not to stay on it for more than 2 weeks at a time because of the dangers of ketosis, which can include lethargy, weakness, coma, and even death. Dieters who follow this program may also become deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium, while simultaneously overdosing on protein. We’ve been taught to believe that protein is good, and the more we eat the better. But the truth is that excess protein can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and kidney stones, while the high fat associated with high protein increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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