Stigler Diet – Everything You Need to Know About the Stigler Diet

Is the Stigler Diet For You? Everything You Need to Know

A diet program should fit the needs of your body as well as your ideal weight.
The past several years saw the emergence of various diet fads and programs.

Many of these diets offer something that their counterpart lacks. Restricted caloric take is the most common characteristics of these diets. They are developed as such in order for someone who want weight loss to be effective in a shorter span of time.

The Stigler Diet is one the earlier diet regiments. It aims to give people who follow it all their recommended dietary needs while targeting their desired weight. However, this one was created to ensure that the body will not be deprived of its nutritional needs.

What is the Stigler Diet?

1982 Nobel Prize winner George Stigler developed the diet. The diet was developed with the aim of consuming all the needed recommended dietary allowances (RDA). Stigler, who was moderately active man and weighs 154 pounds, wanted a diet that meet all his nutritional needs.

He first wanted to include protein, calories, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. He initially listed 77 foods to be included in the diet. Stigler was able to compute the dietary contribution of these food choices based on data he obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stigler used the linear programming method to solve his issue. The diet question was how to fit all 77 kinds of food to meet one’s RDA. He narrowed down the most essential food after some trial and error. There were nine foods left he determined that would be enough to fulfill the daily recommended nutritional requirement laid down during those days.

Based on prices back in 1939, he concluded that a normal man needs 370 pounds of wheat flour, 111 pounds of cabbage, 285 pounds of navy beans, 57 cans of evaporated milk, and 23 pounds of spinach to meet his daily RDA.

Foods in the Stigler Diet

The Stigler Diet differentiates itself from other diets as it aims to pack all your needed nutrients. Stigler developed the diet without the need to consume a long list of food just to meet RDA. In 1939, the economist devised the diet without the need to spend more to meet all their needed RDA.

The following foods were those enumerated by Stigler back in 1939: 

  • Wheat flour – The diet recommends an annual consumption of 370 pounds. Back in 1939, it would cost a man 13.33 U.S. dollars to feed himself.
  • Dried navy beans – 285 pounds of navy beans are to be consumed in a year. Stigler claimed that it would cost $16.80 to consume navy beans in 1939.
  • Cabbage – Stigler recommends 111 pounds of cabbage a year for this diet plan. The cost associated with that amount of cabbage consumed a year is equivalent to $4.11.
  • Spinach – People observing this diet are required to eat 23 pounds of spinach in a year. In 1939, a family would spend 1.85 U.S. dollars a year to fill his nutritional needs.
  • Evaporated milk – 57 cans of evaporated milk should be consumed in a year according to Stigler. He estimated that it would cost 3.84 U.S. dollars.

Benefits of the Stigler Diet


Providing the body with all your needed vitamins and minerals is the main benefit of the diet. Stigler created the diet plan in a way so that someone can easily meet one’s RDA. While other diets reduce caloric content, this one nourishes the body with the daily recommended dietary allowance. Stigler also made sure that food choices recommended to be part of the diet packs a lot of vitamins and nutrients. This benefit is a plus given the limited choices of food in the diet.


Aside from providing all the needed dietary needs, the Stigler Diet also costs less. The diet also has a limited number of food choices. Stigler started solving this linear programming problem with 77 foods. He obtained dietary data of these foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After some trial and error, he narrowed down foods included in the program. Wheat flour, navy beans, and evaporated milk were among those included.

Criticism and Disadvantages

Limited food selection

The diet’s lack of food choices was the main drawback for this program. Many criticized the selection was limited to those items suggested by Stigler. The regiment was developed with the aim of being cost-effective. However, Stigler also would like to take the most nutritional needs from this limited selection of foods.Not up-to-date recommended daily nutritional allowance

The expanded list of nutrients recommended by the National Research Council is another disadvantage faced by the diet in the 21st century. Stigler solved the linear programming problem back in 1939. Nutritional data he used to compute in meeting all needed dietary needs was based on U.S. Agriculture Department data gathered in that year. Fast forward to the 21st century, several updates has been made to the recommended daily nutritional allowance. Given that Stigler used 1939 data, it may no longer be compatible to a modern man’s nutritional needs.

Is The Stigler Diet Effective?

A study found that the Stigler Diet’s recommended RDA no longer fits the dietary requirements in the 21st century. The same study recommends an updated version of the diet for those interested to try it. The authors claim it is still possible to have a low-cost yet still nutritional diet plan. However, there is a need to consider modern dietary needs.

Stigler included food choices readily available in 1939. Experts believe that an expanded Stigler Diet should meet a modern man’s nutritional needs.

Getting fit does not need to deprive you of your essential nutritional needs. The Stigler Diet offers a low-cost yet effective way to provide you all vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Economist Stigler developed the diet plan back in 1939 to ensure that an individual gets all the nutrients he need to be healthy. The lack of an up-to-date recommended daily nutritional allowance as well as the limited selection of food are criticisms of this diet regiment.
Nutritional experts recommend an updated Stigler Diet for those who are interested in following the diet plan. This updated plan should include all the nutritional requirements laid down by government agencies and organizations specializing in health.

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