How the Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is a diet that was created by pediatrician Sidney V. Haas back in the 1920’s, and then became popular by Elaine Gottschall, whose child was a patient of Haas. Originally, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet was intended to help people who had Irritable Bowel Syndrome or one of the other common intestinal diseases, but it later became just as well known as a weight loss plan.

As the name suggests, only some carbohydrates are supposed to be consumed when using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The theory behind the diet is that if people remove carbs that don’t actually help their bodies, they will have fewer digestive issues and will become healthier.

Unfortunately, not only does the Specific Carbohydrate Diet not have any backing from the scientific community, there is also a chance that it is an unhealthy diet because of the nutritional elements that it lacks.

Do Dieters Lose Weight on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet?

How much weight someone will lose on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet depends on just how much they eat, but there is a good chance that all dieters will lose at least some weight when they use this plan. The reason being it is a very low calorie diet because the majority of foods that don’t have “bad” carbs will have a lower calorie count than the foods that do.

The problem with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is that its only proven effectiveness for people looking to lose weight is that it just lowers the amount of calories that dieters eat. That goal can be achieved with a number of other diets, so there really doesn’t seem to be anything special about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and it also happens to come with some health risks.

Level of Effort

Like other diets that have people eat only certain foods, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can be tough on anyone who is used to eating what they enjoy. It isn’t very hard at first because those early motivations can help dieters get over their food cravings, but after a few weeks it can be very hard to stick with this diet plan.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet also doesn’t have any type of exercise plan to follow, so dieters have to come up with their own to compliment their new low-calorie diets. This only makes the diet harder to stick to, which is why there are far more failures than successes when it comes to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.


The Specific Carbohydrate Diet may have seemed like a good idea back when it was created, but these days there are far better diets out there that are known to actually be healthy diets. On top of being a risky diet to follow, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet book is also currently $60, which is pretty expensive considering that it is an unproven diet with no exercise plan.

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Written by Ellyn Santiago

An award-wining investigative journalist for more 30 years, one of the things I never really wrote about was health, wellness, and fitness. Ironically, I've been overweight my whole life so I know diets. Intimately. And, having been a​n editor and writer for a​ fitness magazine ​recently, I learned a thing or 10. Now, I'm committed to exploring the many weight loss options out there to try to help folks make good choices.

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