The Cleveland Clinic Diet

This version of the so-called Cleveland Clinic Diet has been circulating for years. Is it right for you? Here I break down the diet so you can decide.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. In need of losing some weight, I resorted to an old copy of the Cleveland Clinic Diet. Now it is not really a diet from the Cleveland Clinic. It is one of those things that got circulated from person-to-person years ago and I still had a copy.

Plate with beets, green beans, hot dogs, and a side of ice cream and an apple.

Day One Dinner

I decided to look it up on the internet and, naturally, there is some criticism. Aren’t most diets scrutinized? Some say it is bad because of the calorie restrictions. (Isn’t carrying around excess weight bad, too?)

Since dieting is easier with a buddy, I recruited my (adult) daughter to do it with me. I guestimate that it costs around $55 for two people for three days. The plan is as follows:

Day One

Breakfast:  1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice dry toast, and 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
Lunch:  1/2 cup dry tuna, 1 slice dry toast, coffee or tea
Dinner:  2 slices of any type of meat (3 oz.), 1 cup green beans, 1 cup red beets, 1 small apple, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Bowl of grapefruit.

Day Two

Breakfast:  1 egg, 1 slice dry toast, 1/2 banana
Lunch:  1 cup cottage cheese, 5 saltine crackers
Dinner:  2 hot dogs (meat only), 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, 1 banana

Bowl of cottage cheese.

Day Three

Breakfast:  5 saltine crackers, 1 slice of Cheddar cheese, 1 small apple
Lunch:  1 boiled egg, 1 slice dry toast
Dinner:  1 cup dry tuna, 1 cup red beets, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Bowl of tuna fish.

My copy goes on to say:

Diet works on chemical breakdown and is proven. Do not vary or substitute any of the above foods; salt and pepper may be used but no other seasonings. This diet is to be used 3 days at a time.

In three days you will lose 10 lbs. After 3 days of dieting, you can eat your normal foods, do not overdo it. After your 4 days of normal eating, start back on your 3-day diet. You can lose up to 40 lbs. in a month if you stick to this diet. It is a safe diet.


On day one I was H.U.N.G.R.Y! I lost between 1-2 pounds.
I admit that I did not quite stick to it on day two. I ate my banana and ice cream early. I was H.U.N.G.R.Y!
Day three: I think I made it through breakfast, but that was it.

The So-Called Cleveland Clinic Analyzed

I thought I would do a little analysis using to see how this diet really measured up – or down. Below is how the different day’s meal plan breaks down.

Day 1

My Fitness Pal analysis of Day One of Cleveland Clinic Diet
So for day one, the calorie count is low. Most diets recommend a minimum of 1200 calories/day. (The National Health Service in the UK recommends 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men.) The sodium content is too high.

Day 2

Day Two analysis of The Cleveland Clinic Diet
Day two is still too low on the calorie count.

Day 3

Day Three analysis of The Cleveland Clinic Diet
Once again, not enough calories


Overall I lost about 3.5 pounds following this version of the Cleveland Clinic Diet. Not too bad for starving for 2 days. Would I do it again? I think I would do one day just to mess with my metabolism.

My daughter was not a fan of the diet.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone. I think that perhaps one of the best diets that one can do is the No S Diet. Basically, it is no sweets, no snacks, and no seconds except on days that start with “S” or special occasions. How easy does that sound?

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  1. I was on this diet in the 90
    I loss 30 pounds. I loss
    my original copy and goggle
    and found it so glad it was on
    line. I’ve retired and need to
    lose some weigh. I don’t like
    the cottage cheese what should I do.
    please leave me a comment
    it’s a good diet it takes alot of

  2. I’m doing this diet, it’s called “3 day diet. I’m on day 3 and am weighed myself this morning and I’m down 5 lbs. My diet calls for white meat. The first day was difficult. I can manage as long as I can eat ice cream. I have to admit I ate 10 jelly beans with my 2 year old grandson when he stayed the night with me. Lol. Today is day 3 and my Daughter-in-laws baby shower. Fingers crossed I make it. I think I’ll wrap a togo plate for tomorrow.

  3. thank you so much for sharing this. I found this diet in my moms 1940 diary. I think it works just fine and I am one who needs to be told exactly what to eat so it works for me. I used it many years ago after my first, baby was born, and I lost about 30 pounds. I felt great and really never did much dieting since then now I am 69 and up to 155 pounds. I really would like to lose 15 pounds. Thanks so much for posting this for free. I really appreciate it.

  4. I tried this as well over 20 years ago and I did lose the weight but it all came back easily in a week lol. I have struggled over the years with different fads and diets but here recently about 6 months ago I stumble over a diet in found in Honduras. Its called the Honduras raw chicken food poison diet lol… Yep in a week and a half I lost 15 pounds and was scarred to eat anything for another week or two after that. It gave me the jump start I needed and since then lost another 25 pounds all within 6 months. Best part is I not starving or rarely even hungry. I eat either a fiber cereal or a couple eggs.. Throw in a banana or blue berries in the cereal or eat separately. Lunch time either a salad or I always buy a box of blue berries or black berries in my refrig for a nice filling lunch. If I’m on the road I just stop by a grocery store and buy a box of them and eat them on the run. Dinner time if I didn’t have a salad for lunch I usually have one for my dinner. It would be huge too lol.. Lettuce, scallions, bell peppers, celery, cherry tomatoes, few croutons, and Mexican mix cheese sparingly. Some times a can of tuna on top. change it up so its not boring. Low calorie dressing. Or I do a fish or chicken meal. Never any snacks unless it is alive lol… Fruit…. I have 20 more pounds to go until I’m at my ideal weight once again… This is not a diet but a life style. Do some walking if possible. Just keep moving daily somehow.. I feel better that I have in years, more energy, thinking is more organized, and my attitude is always positive… Oh yea, I’m 67 and getting married in about a two months to a beautiful lady that is 20 years younger. Anyone can do what I have done once you convince that grey matter that’s between your ears that you want to change your life. It’s not what diet you do but how you want to live. The diet will just happen then. Good luck folks.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Sorry you got food poisoning, but at least something positive did result. Yes, losing weight really is best from a true lifestyle change and it does begin in the mind.

  5. My old typewriter copy was called the Mayo diet. It was just like this except no beets or cauliflower from what I can remember. It’s possible I hated those vegetables so I blanked them out. Lol. It’s also been called the Military diet. I only completed it one time and I did lose 7 pounds. I then continue with a low calorie diet. It’s a great jump start to get you motivated.

  6. I’ve gone on this many times to jump start. Lost a lot of weight with Weight Watchers, but recently gained some back. Using this to get me going again. Interestingly enough though, if you plug in these foods for WW points, it is actually WAY over in point values for the day.

  7. I went on this diet back in the 90’s. I stuck with it and dropped 40 pounds. I managed to keep them off until 3 years ago. I think I am going back on it. I hate cottage cheese and black coffee. Might do the ice cream thing and save it to put in my coffee in the morning.

  8. if I understand correctly, this diet was originally designed for severely obese people who needed to lose weight quickly so that they could have surgery. Under those circumstances the doctors would monitor them and it would help them to get to a weight that would allow the doctors could perform surgery safely.

  9. I did this diet awhile back and it worked. I lost 11 lbs. A tip for those who cant drink blk coffee. Let the ice cream melt in the fridge and use it for ur coffee.

  10. So funny, I had the same typewritten copy back in the early 90s – only my version was called the OHSU Diet! Same instructions and everything. I used to do it in my 20s just for a little kick start but never lost more than 3 lbs at a time. I googled it and found your post because I wanted to find the menu to look it up on MFP – and was excited to see you already did the hard work :). I didn’t realize the calories were so low!

  11. I am on this diet and can tolerate all of the foods. I lost 7 lbs the first week. It is Monday again and I am on my second session. Weight loss goal is only 15 lbs to get me back on track. I am 86 years old and I’m hoping to lose that “belly fat”. It is the second week of Lent and that will surely help me since I am giving up all desserts except vanilla ice cream. .

  12. I did this and lost about 6 pounds. I hate cottage cheese and cauliflower, other than that it was easy. I did find picked beets and ate those instead of regular beets, and now I love picked beets…the day I had to have the cottage cheese I would put it on the cracker and then slug it down with water. But I really think exercise is the key to a good diet. Exercise and portions controls and then you can still have a dessert.

  13. I did this diet in 2001 the week before my prom…IT WORKED! I was very hungry though…and I ate lunch in the bathroom stall b/c I was too embarrassed to eat those crazy combinations in front of people! Lol….oh, the things we do when we’re young…

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