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How Safe is the 3 Day Cardiac Diet?

November 14, 2017
cardiac diet

If you’re hoping to lower your risk for heart attack or stroke, you may be considering a heart-healthy diet. You may ease into it, or you can take a more radical approach. You may be thinking about trying the 3 Day Cardiac Diet.

The people who developed the 3 Day Cardiac Diet claim you’ll lose up to 10 pounds-fast. But that’s only if you stick to it as it’s drawn up. There are no studies to prove it actually works, but it’s not stopping people from eating extremely basic meals three days a week.

If you strictly adhere to the menu instructions, you will consume an average of 800 to 1,000 calories per day. So, the question is, just how safe is the 3 Day Cardiac Diet?

To get some of our answers, we asked North Ohio Heart/Ohio Medical Group Cardiologist Dr. Michael Langer.

3 Day Cardiac Diet: Safety

The 3 Day Cardiac Diet is also known as the Birmingham Diet because it’s thought it was developed at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but researchers there deny it. There’s no mention of it on the Weight Management Services page on the school’s website.

Dr. Langer can’t condone the diet either. He says there is no long-term value.

One of the concerns is your calorie count. The 3 Day Cardiac Diet is well below the recommended 1,200 calorie minimum for women and 1,800 calorie minimum for men.

The diet may not damage your health, but there are other concerns, including:

  • Repeated cycles of gaining and losing weight that can strain your heart
  • Weakened immune system
  • Nutrient deficiencies

3 Day Cardiac Diet: Menu

There’s not much to the 3 Day Cardiac Diet because there’s not much on the menu. On the plus side, it’s easy on your wallet. But keep in mind, a radical change like this could leave you feeling hungry. Here’s what your menu will look like during those three days:


You can’t make any substitutes. Salt and pepper can be added, but nothing else. The idea is you stick to this menu for three days, eat responsibly for four days, then repeat the 3-day diet again.

3 Day Cardiac Diet: Weight Loss

According to British Heart Foundation senior dietitian Victoria Taylor, the 3 Day Cardiac Diet will only help you lose water or muscle weight, not fat. Dr. Langer agrees and categorizes it as a fad diet. He recommends talking to your doctor or dietitian before starting any diet plan, especially one as radical as the 3 Day Cardiac Diet.

If you’re looking for a diet to help you lose weight and improve your heart-health, a plant-based diet, like the Mediterranean Diet, may be a better option than the 3 Day Cardiac Diet.

If you have questions or concerns about your heart health, check our free guide “Heart Disease Facts.” In it you’ll find tips for a sensible heart-healthy diet and other ways you can decrease your risk for developing heart disease.

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