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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.

Day one foods for Cleveland Clinic Diet - beets, green beans, apple, ice cream, and meatDay One Dinner

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.

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 cost 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 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 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.  Here is how the different day’s meal plan breaks down:

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 sodium content is too high.

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

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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Tuesday 16th of April 2019

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.


Thursday 8th of November 2018

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.


Thursday 23rd of August 2018

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.


Saturday 27th of May 2017

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.


Sunday 28th of May 2017

What a great tip! Thank you for sharing.


Thursday 4th of May 2017

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!


Friday 5th of May 2017

That is an interesting part of the diet, isn't it?