The name “Melba toast diet” can apply to any diet incorporating Melba toast as a staple food. Some Melba toast diets are balanced regimens in which you cut calories, but others are fads that could have dangerous consequences. Melba toast itself has nutritional value, but fad diets can rely on medications that have serious side effects.
Melba toast is twice-toasted bread. The sliced bread is toasted and retoasted until it is very crispy. Melba toasts are half the size of regular bread slices. In the most common origin story, the toast was first specially made in the late 1800s by chef and fan Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Nellie Melba, who had been feeling ill. However, the website Practically Edible notes that the toast was first named "Toast Marie" for the wife of the hotel owner who presented the toast to Melba.
Melba toast’s size means it does not have that many calories compared to other bread products, only about 20 per slice for basic, unflavored Melba toast. MayoClinic.com notes that four Melba toast slices equal one starch exchange for those on diets for diabetes management.
Types of Diets
Some of the diets that use Melba toast as one of the more prominent foods are well-established, long-term programs that aim for the classic “eat less, move more” formula. Melba toast is low calorie and low fat, so it follows that diet plans would use it as a bread item in recipes and menus. Other diets, however, are fads that advocate medications plus low-calorie eating for fast weight loss. Melba toast is still used as a low-calorie carb in the diet’s menu, but food as a whole takes a backseat to the medication.
One such diet is the hCG diet, in which you inject yourself daily with hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone associated with pregnancy. You’re also supposed to eat an extremely low-calorie diet of 500 calories per day. DietsInReview.com notes that one version of the plan says that Melba toast is one of the few acceptable foods for lunch and dinner. That doesn’t matter in the end, though, because not only has injected hCG not been proven to cause weight loss, but diets using 500 calories per day are supposed to be medically supervised, as they are usually reserved for those undergoing a medical procedure and who need to lose weight fast. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that hCG can cause thyrotoxicosis, in which the thyroid malfunctions and speeds up your metabolism. This plus the low-calorie intake can quickly lead to starvation.
Should you find yourself wanting to lose a little weight, you can make Melba toast yourself, although the overall calorie count might be slightly higher or lower, as your slices probably won’t be cut to the same size as commercial Melba toast. Practically Edible says that all you have to do is toast one slice of bread fairly lightly, split it in half and toast the halves again. The toast is done when the edges curl.
- "New York Times": Toast of the Bronx Will Soon Be Toast
- MayoClinic.com: Exchange List — Starches
- DietsInReview.com: HCG Diet
- DietsInReview.com: HCG Diet — Look Elsewhere for Weight Loss
- Practically Edible: Melba Toast
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Controversial Weight Loss Treatment May Have Contributed to the Early Death of 1950's Film and Recording Star Mario Lanza