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South Beach Low Carb Diet

Updated on November 7, 2016

The South Beach diet was developed by cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatson. According to Dr. Agatson, he developed the diet to teach the body how to accept the right fats and carbohydrates to lose weight. To do this, the body needs to divorce itself from the attraction to sugar.

Most of the promotional material for South Beach will tell you that it is not a low carb diet, it definitely is a low carb diet. It is certainly not as extreme as some other low carb diets, such as Atkins, but it still is low carb.

In addition to the original South Beach diet book, there are a number of other books designed to support following the diet, including a restaurant guide and various cookbooks.

How the South Beach Diet works

The diet is divided into three stages: Phase One, Two, and Three. Phase one is very similiar to the induction phase of the Atkins program and it lasts two weeks. Phase two is the on-going weight loss diet and phase 3 is essentially the maintenance phase of the plan, meant to be followed for life.

South Beach Diet Phase One

Phase One is the strictest phase of the diet. In order to get the body back to ground zero as it were, all processed sugars have to be eliminated from the daily diet. Bread, fruits, sugary snacks, rice, and pasta are all prohibited during the first fourteen days. The theory behind the first phase of the diet is that it takes two weeks to make or break a habit. In two weeks time, the body will forget it’s craving for sugar.

Phase Two

A dieter that survives the first two weeks will find that Phase Two is less restrictive. One at a time, foods banned in the first phase of the diet can be added back in moderation. This teaches the body to manage sugars and learn portion control. Dieters continue with the second phase of the South Beach diet until they have reached their goal weight.

Phase Three - Maintenance

Phase Three is the maintenance phase of the diet. Foods are chosen that will keep weight at a stable level and, at the same time, not make the dieter feel deprived. The South Beach diet book contains recipes for each phase of the plan. Foods that can be eaten at each phase are listed at the back of the book.

Following the South Beach Meal Plans

Get the Book

The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life

This is the most current version of the South Beach Diet and it's all you need to get started, but there's plenty of cookbooks and other books as well.


Dieters are encouraged to prepare their own low carb meals. Preparing your own food provides more fresh vegetables and nutrients than processed fare. Be aware that some of the recipes may require pricier cuts of meat and seafood along with the seasonings, so you may want to shop around or pick and choose your recipes with care.

That said, while low carb dieting can sometimes be a bit expensive, it is usually less expensive than dining out all fo the time if that was your former habit. If you can change that habit in favor of cooking at home, most meats are quick and easy to prepare with a minimum of fuss. My grille gets a lot of work-outs year round because I love meat and prefer it grilled. Mostly becaus I cannot cook :)

South Beach dieters with children at home will generally want to add some starches to your children's meals. Potato and pasta lovers will be tempted to add those carbs to their plate, but they must resist or they will not lose the initial pounds in the first two weeks.

If you are a vegetarian, this diet will be hard, if not impossible, to follow, especially during the first two weeks when you can eat nothing but meat and vegetables and nuts. Back in the 90s, when I was a vegetarian, I once tried to do Atkins by eating nothing but eggs and cheese, while also ramped up on Fen Phen. I basically was bouncing off the walls. I failed to stay on the diet (as you'd pretty much expect!)

Someone who is not a great fan of a lot of veggies or meat will also have a hard time during the first two weeks.

South Beach Living - Kraft Foods

South Beach has a relationship with Kraft Foods where they market items under the South Beach Diet brand. This year the brand name has been changed to South Beach Living. In addition, I believe you may find the South Beach logo on packaged foods made by other companies, but it is still best to check the nutrition labels of any foods you decide to buy to make sure it works with the program, rather than trusting to any logos.

What about Exercise?

Exercise isn't covered in any depth in the book. The South Beach diet is about changing eating habits and eliminating cravings. But as you well know, to achieve total health and actually keep the weight off, exercise is at least half the equation.


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