The South beach and Atkins diet are arguably the two best-known of the low carb diets. Though they share the same goal, they choose different paths to help people lose weight.
How The South Beach Diet Got Its Start
The South beach diet is named after a beautiful place in Miami and is created by Arthur Agatston in 2003. He is a Miami-based cardiologist and according to him, getting healthy and losing weight quickly is not cutting all fats and carbohydrates from your diet. It’s about learning to choose the right fats and right carbs.
This approach is part of the South Beach diet three-step program, which Agatston developed in order to help his patients suffering from heart disease lower cholesterol and lose weight.
Emphasizing fiber and nutrient-loaded food, the South Beach diet, can help you kick your cravings away, jump start your weight loss, as well as keep those unwanted pounds off.
Why Dr. Agatson Developed The South Beach Diet
The main purpose of this diet is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and weight loss by changing the balance of the foods you eat. The South Beach diet says it is a healthy yet enjoyable eating habit whether for weight loss or not.
In the first two weeks of the South Beach diet phase 1, you can expect to lose around 8 to 13 pounds, Agatston says.
Does It Really Work?
Yes. The South Beach diet is a healthy approach to eating while helping you shed pounds. Though, nutrition experts said people have to be cautious during the first phase of the diet since it is the most restrictive.
There are 3 phases in this diet and Phase 1 is the most restrictive – no bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, or pasta. In the 2nd phase, you can gradually add back these foods. You will then move into the 3rd phase when you achieve your goal weight, and keep that weight for life. Later in this article, the three phases of the South Beach diet will be discussed further.
The South Beach Diet is the Perfect Diet for you if:
- You want a diet that is easy to follow and you can stick to for life
- You don’t like the high fat / low carb diets
- You want to change your eating habits – but want a way of eating (WOE) that allows for a lot more carbs then weight loss methods like Atkins
Before starting any weight loss program you should first check with your health care provider or doctor especially if you have health-related concerns.
High glycemic load vs low glycemic load
The South Beach diet will teach you about eliminating “bad” carbohydrates from your diet. This diet uses the glycemic load and glycemic index to determine which carbs you have to avoid. Foods with the higher glycemic index can increase your blood sugar higher, faster, and longer than foods with a lower index. Some studies show that this increase in your blood sugar can rapidly boost your appetite and can lead you to increased eating, weight gain, and possibly diabetes – these can all lead to cardiovascular disease.
The diet educates people about the different types of dietary fats, as well as encourages you to reduce your intake of unhealthy fats while eating healthier foods with good monounsaturated fats. It also emphasizes the benefits of whole grains and fibre and encourages you to include vegetables and fruits in your meal plan.
Recommended South Beach Diet Carb Intake
Unlike other typical eating plans, the South Beach diet promotes lower carbohydrates, but not as low true low-carb diets. On a normal meal plan, about 45% to 65% of your daily calories come from carbs. Based on a diet with 2,000 calorie/day rule, this amounts to around 225 to 325 grams of carbs daily. In the South Beach diet’s final maintenance phase, you are able to get as much as 28% of your calorie intake every day from carbohydrates, or about 140g of carbohydrates a day. While on a true low carb diet meal plan, your carb intake might be restricted to as little as 50g-100g a day.
Should You Exercise While on the South Beach Diet?
The South Beach Diet has evolved and now recommends proper and regular exercise as an essential part or your lifestyle. The Diet says that regular exercise boosts your metabolism and helps prevent weight loss plateaus.
The fitness component of the South Beach diet merges 2 parts:
- Interval Walking – alternating between a slower pace and a very fast pace.
- Total Body Workout – It includes leg kicks and squats, which is designed to strengthen your core.
You will spend at least 20 minutes of exercise 7 days a week, rotating between the given two components. You can find tips on The South Beach Diet Supercharged about customizing your fitness level plan, whether you are a longtime fitness buff or an exercise newbie.
The South Beach Diet Level of Effort: Medium
This diet is meant to be uncomplicated and practical. There is no need to figure percentages of carbs, fats, and protein. Your daily meals are normal in size.
Shopping and Cooking: Meals are very easy to prepare, with most ingredients found in supermarkets and restaurants. You are required to eat healthy snacks between meals.
Limitations: It’s fine to break or bend the rules sometimes. If you overindulge in the 2nd phase, Agatston suggests switching back to the 1st phase until you lose the weight you’ve put on and then you can return to where you left off.
Packaged Meals or Foods: The South Beach diet sells food that includes smoothies and snack bars, but you are not obliged to purchase them.
Three Phases of the South Beach Diet
South Beach Diet Phase 1
This phase lasts for two weeks. This is designed to totally eliminate cravings for foods containing high refined starches and sugar to jump-start weight loss. In this stage, you cut out almost all carbs from your diet including rice, pasta, fruit and bread. You can’t even drink fruit juice and alcohol. While you’re in this phase, you should focus on eating lean protein like skinless poultry, seafood, soy products and lean beef. You can also eat vegetables with high fiber, low-fat dairy, as well as foods with healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
South Beach Diet Phase 2
This is a long-term phase for weight loss. In this stage, you begin adding back some foods that were restricted in stage 1, such as whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, fruits, brown rice, and more vegetables. You must stay in this stage until you achieve your goal weight.
South Beach Diet Phase 3
This is the last phase in the South Beach diet. This is considered as a maintenance stage meant to leave you a healthy way of eating for life. While in this stage, you must continue to follow the eating principles that you’ve learned in the previous two phases. In this stage, you can be able to eat all types of foods you like in moderation.
A Sample Meal Plan on the South Beach Diet
Here’s a sample menu you might follow during a typical day in the South Beach Diet phase 1:
Breakfast – an omelette with baked eggs or smoked salmon with ham and spinach, along with a cup of tea or coffee.
Lunch – a vegetable salad with shrimp or scallops, along with sparkling water or iced tea.
Dinner – a grilled pork or tuna paired with a salad and grilled vegetables.
Dessert – The South Beach diet encourages you to have some dessert, such as a chilled espresso custard or ricotta cheesecake, even in the first phase.
Snacks – The diet also encourages you to enjoy some snacks during the day, such as a turkey roll-up or roasted chickpeas, and Muenster cheese.
A sample meal plan during the South Beach diet phase 2:
Breakfast – Spiced oatmeal with walnuts and dried apricot, paired with vegetable juice cocktail.
Lunch – Chicken fingers rubbed with spices paired with cilantro dipping sauce, non-fat milk and festive five-veggie slaw.
Dinner – Grilled chicken with matching savoury Asia plum sauce, brown rice noodles with Vietnamese style vegetables, and non-fat milk.
Dessert – Reward yourself with chocolate meringue kisses.
APPROVED FOODS LIST FOR THE SOUTH BEACH DIET
|Cheese (low fat or fat-free – American, cottage, cheddar, feta, cream substitute)|
|All Types of Fish|
|Spices/Seasoning (butter sprays, broth, pepper, anything containing no sugar)|
|Sweets – no more than 75 calories a day (cocoa powder baking type, chocolate powder, hard candy)|
|Skinless Chicken Breasts|
|Vegetables (asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, beans, celery, cauliflower, eggplant, cucumbers, lettuce, legumes, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes)|
FOOD TO AVOID WHILE ON THE SOUTH BEACH DIET
|Alcohol – includes hard alcohol, beer, wine (it will be introduced in the 2nd phased in moderation)|
|Baked Goods (includes all starchy foods)|
|Beef (liver, brisket, fatty cuts, rib steaks)|
|All Kinds of Cereal|
|Bread and Pastries|
|Cheese (edam, brie, full fat)|
|Poultry (chicken legs, wings, thighs, goose, duck, poultry products)|
|Vegetables (beets, barley, carrots, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams)|
In the South Beach diet, you will lose about 8-13 lbs in the 2-week period while you’re in phase 1. The diet says you will shed weight mostly from your midsection. In the 2nd phase, it says that you will likely lose 1-2lbs a week.
Most people can actually lose weight on almost any kind of diet program, especially in the short term. The most important thing to weight loss is a number of calories you consume and a number of calories you burn off. Losing at least 1-2lbs a week is the most typical recommendation. Even though it may seem slow, it is a good pattern that can permanently help you in your weight loss goals.
Rapidly losing a large amount of weight could indicate that you are losing lean tissue or water weight, rather than fat. However, faster weight loss can also be safe in some situations especially if it is done in a healthy method. For example, the induction phases of Atkins and South Beach help you to lose a lot of weight fast while jumpstarting your metabolism.
Does It Allow for Dietary Preferences or Restrictions?
Yes. Flexibility is one of the South Beach diet’s guiding principles.
Vegans and Vegetarians: This diet is both vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Protein alternatives to lean meat include legumes, soy products and beans. Enrolling online in the South Beach diet website gives you access to meal plans and recipes that you can’t find anywhere else, exclusively for vegetarians.
Gluten-Free: Gluten is not banned, yet since you are cutting down on carbohydrates, choosing to eat only gluten-free products makes a lot of sense.
Health Benefits of the South Beach Diet
While the main goal of this diet is to help people lose weight, the South Beach diet may also promote certain health changes. Research shows that following a healthy long term diet that’s rich in dietary fats and healthy carbohydrates can improve one’s overall health. For example, low carb diets with healthy fats can improve your blood cholesterol levels.
However, no randomized, long-term controlled clinical trials or tests have measured the South Beach Diet’s health outcomes. Nor have there been any studies of the cardiovascular or overall health benefits of following a diet with low glycemic index. But eating foods such as unsaturated fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can definitely promote overall good health.
Risks Associated With the South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet is safe. However, it’s advisable for you to read the book, “The South Beach Diet”, or “The South Beach Diet Supercharged”, by Arthur Agatston, or by joining their online coaching program.
What Else You Should Know About the South Beach Diet
Cost: Eating healthy can be really costly. The website of the South Beach diet offers tips on how to save money such as shopping at farmer’s markets, buying food in bulk, preparing simple meals, and using coupons.
Support: The South Beach diet website offers tools you can use in tracking your recipes, customized meal plan, dining out guides, weight and community support. The membership fee is $4/week but the first seven days are free.