Birmingham Heart Diet

The Birmingham Heart Diet, also known as the "Birmingham Heart Hospital Diet," the "3-Day Diet" and the "Cardiac Unit of UAB Hospital Diet," has been circulating for years. Reputed to be a program given to patients with cardiac disease so that they may lose weight quickly, the diet is in fact not actually promoted by any hospitals. Nevertheless, UAB Hospital reports getting many requests for the diet every year. The diet promises quick, effective weight loss, but medical professionals have called it “potentially harmful," and asserted that there is no scientific basis for its claims.

The Plan

The Birmingham Diet follows a 3-day-on, 4-day-off program, during which you eat strictly according to the plan for three days and then eat whatever you like for four days, repeating the cycle until you have reached your weight loss goal. According to the rules of the diet, however, during the three days you must follow the plan to the letter. There are no substitutions allowed. You cannot change the amount of food specified. This, according to the diet's proponents, is because the foods contained in the plan work together to chemically break down fat, and changing these foods or the amounts will harm the process.

During the diet, in addition to the tea and/or coffee included in the menus, you can drink water and diet, no-calorie soda. The only seasonings allowed are salt and pepper. There is a restrictive menu for each day which you must follow. On the first day, breakfast is 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of toast, 1 tbsp peanut butter and black coffee or unsweetened tea. Lunch is 1/2 cup of tuna, 1 slice of toast, and black coffee or tea. Dinner is 2 slices or 3 oz. of any meat, 1 cup of string beans, 1 cup of carrots or beets, 1 apple, and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream.

Day 2 begins with a breakfast of 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 slice of toast, 1/2 banana, and coffee or tea. Lunch is 1 cup of cottage cheese or 1 cup of tuna and 5 saltine crackers. Dinner is 2 hot dogs, 1 cup cabbage or broccoli, 1/2 cup turnip greens or carrots, 1/2 banana, and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream.

On the last day, you have the same breakfast as Day 2, minus the banana. Lunch is 1 slice of cheddar cheese, 5 saltine crackers, 1 apple and coffee or tea. Dinner is 1 cup tuna, 1 cup carrots or beets, one cup green beans or cauliflower, 1 cup cantaloupe or 1 apple, and 1 cup vanilla ice cream. On the fourth day, return to regular eating, as long as you do not overeat.


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Do not begin any weight loss program without consulting with your doctor or a qualified medical professional. Don’t stay on the Birmingham Diet longer than three days at a time if you do choose to try it. It’s meant for short-term weight loss--not meant to be a long-term eating plan. The meals put daily caloric intake at about 1,000 calories per day, which is quite low. There are many negative results from following a very calorie-restricted diet for too long, such as fatigue, depression, hair loss and frequent bruising.