The Birmingham Hospital Diet

Fad diets appear out of nowhere, blanket the internet with claims of impossible weight loss and continue to pop up again from time to time with new names. The Birmingham diet, also known as the American Heart Association diet, has no connection to these medical organizations. This diet, which promises a 10 lb. weight loss in three days, supposedly was created to help heart patients lose weight quickly before heart surgery.

The Diet

The diet, which changes slightly in different variations, claims to work if you follow it exactly. Every meal over a three-day period is spelled out. It features coffee or tea with every breakfast and lunch and several cups of vegetables for dinner, plus a small amount of protein. It also allows vanilla ice cream each night for dessert. "Heart and Soul" website says you must follow it exactly because it works on the concept of chemical breakdown. Oddly, on day one, you can have either one slice of dry toast or 1 oz. of cheddar cheese, two items that bear no chemical similarities -- one is a carbohydrate and the other contains protein and fat.


Both the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the American Heart Association have disavowed any connection with this fad diet. The UAB website claims the diet contains too much saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium for cardiac patients. The AHA reiterates the same points, noting that the diet has also been called, alternatively, the Spokane Hospital Diet, Cleveland Clinic Diet and the Miami Heart Institute Diet. The true source of the diet isn’t known.


Dinner on day two includes two beef franks according to the "Heart and Soul" website; other sites just say “wieners.” While hot dogs are all right to eat on occasion, they’re hardly a health food choice, since 110 of the 130 calories in a typical hot dog comes from fat, according to LIVESTRONG MyPlate. Vanilla ice cream, while not harmful occasionally, also hardly classifies as a diet item, with 14 g of simple sugar and 7 g of fat in a 1/2-cup serving.


The diet supplies around 1,200 calories per day, adequate to lose weight but certainly not adequate to cause a 3-lb. per day weight loss. To lose 1 lb. you must reduce your calorie intake by 3,500 calories and the average American daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories. Taking in 1,200 calories results in an 800 calorie deficit, which would result in a 1-lb. loss in between four and five days. Despite claims, it’s not possible to lose 10 lbs of fat in three days, no matter what you eat.