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South Beach Diet Phase 1 at Applebees

Updated on February 13, 2007

Applebee's House Sirloin (courtesy

Cajun Lime Tilapia (courtesy

South Beach Diet Phase 1 at Applebee's

I've done the South Beach Diet enough times to know that it works. I've also done it enough times to know that Phase 1 is very difficult. Thankfully, though, that phase only lasts for two weeks, and then it becomes much easier.

For those of you unfamiliar with the South Beach Diet, it's a concept developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, one that was originally designed for his heart patients to lower their blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The first two weeks, or Phase 1, of the diet, is very strict-only lean meats, vegetables, eggs, low-fat dairy products, beans and nuts are allowed. What is not allowed: carbohydrates of any kind, including cereal, pasta, bread, potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruit or anything with sugar in it and alcoholic beverages. Whole grain products and fruit are gradually added back in beginning with Phase 2.

Once you get accustomed to it, Phase 1 is not horrible. But for those of you first-time dieters, it's quite the learning curve. Think about most fast-food restaurants, and you think about some kind of meat served on some kind of white bread, with french fried potatoes and a sugary soft drink. None of those items are allowed on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, so if you do have to subject yourself to fast food, you'll be limited to a salad with no croutons and a bottle of water or sugar-free beverage.

My suggestion if you're trying this diet is to eat at home as much as you can, and/or pack your meals to work or school. But if you do find yourself in a social situation, there are good choices for Phase 1 diners. For example, I scoured the menu at my local Applebee's to find these Phase 1-friendly choices. Keep in mind that every branch of restaurants like this is different, meaning some may serve the recommended low-fat cheese with some of these items and some may not, so it's important to ask questions and use your best judgement.


Grilled Shrimp Dippers-Any grilled seafood is okay on Phase 1, and two of the three sauces served with this one are okay. The spicy cocktail sauce or avocado/ranch sauce are fine, but skip the pineapple salsa.

Onion Soup Au Gratin-Ordered without the giant crouton, you're left with a Phase 1-friendly soup that is a beef broth base with onions and melted swiss cheese.


Tuscan Shrimp Salad-Grilled shrimp and veggies in a champagne dressing. Just skip the bread that comes with it.

Grilled Chicken Caesar-Most grilled meat with typical salad veggies is fine, but be careful not to douse it in dressing.

Santa Fe Chicken Salad-Grilled chicken with greens, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and ranch dressing. It also has tortilla strips which you can ask them to (regretfully) omit.

Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad-Grilled shrimp over spinach with tomatoes, red peppers, onions and almonds, tossed with a bacon dressing.

Southwest Cobb Salad-Grilled chicken, cheese, broccoli, and tomatoes on a bed of greens. Just ask for it without the bean and corn salad that comes on top.


Note: the steaks are all 9 oz. or larger, and 3 oz. is the acceptable amount of protein for Phase 1. So you should be careful about how much you eat--either share it or take half home).

Applebee's House Sirloin-A 9 oz. Grilled steak....just get it with a salad or extra vegetables instead of the mashed potatoes and garlic toast that it comes with. (Grilled shrimp can also be added to any entrée for an extra fee).

Shrimp & Parmesan Sirloin-House sirloin with grilled garlic shrimp and Parmesan cheese sauce. Yum.

Bourbon Street Steak-10 oz. Cajun-spiced steak with onions and mushrooms on top. Again, forego the mashed potatoes and garlic toast.

Steak with Roasted Garlic Chicken Combo-Grilled steak along with a grilled chicken breast that is served with roasted garlic cheese sauce.

Steak and Grilled Shrimp Skewers-Most grilled meats are a good option. Just be sure your meal comes with vegetables and/or a salad, and if not, order them on the side.

Fiesta Lime Chicken-Grilled lime marinated chicken with a ranch and cheese sauce.

Crispy Brick Chicken with Warm Spinach Salad-This one is great, but just if you take off the skin and eat only the white meat. It's a whole petite grilled chicken, marinated in rosemary and olive oil, and served alongside spinach salad with bacon dressing. The salad also has hard-boiled eggs, caramelized onions and Parmesan cheese.

Sizzling Fajitas-This can also apply to any Mexican restaurant. Order the steak or chicken fajitas, which are usually sautéed with peppers and onions, but do not eat the tortillas or rice.

Cheeseburger or Bacon Cheeseburger-This is not ideal because Applebee's likely uses ground chuck or regular ground beef instead of the ground sirloin or lean ground beef that Phase 1 mandates. But ordered without the bun and without the fries, a bunless burger is still better than anything breaded.

Cajun Lime Tilapia-A grilled Cajun spiced fish that is served with a corn and black bean salsa. The salsa is a no-no because of the corn, but you can order vegetables or a salad instead.

Chicken & Portobello Sandwich-Like the burger, order this without the bun. When you do, you're left with a nice meal of grilled chicken, Portobello mushroom, tomatoes and marinara sauce. Skip the fresh fruit that it's served with and get a vegetable or salad.

Confetti Chicken-Grilled chicken breast with salsa ranch sauce and cheese. This one is also served with the black bean and corn salsa, which you can skip.


This is a tough one, but you'll have to skip it and just order a decaf coffee or tea. Have your sugar free gelatin or ricotta crème at home.


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      Ron 5 years ago

      I like this awesome hub very much, so much excellent stuff.

      Ron from Fitness

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      Bobby Yates 5 years ago

      I believe that avoiding highly processed foods could be the first step for you to lose weight. They might taste fine, but packaged foods have very little vitamins and minerals, making you try to eat more in order to have enough vitality to get with the day. When you are constantly eating these foods, moving over to whole grains and other complex carbohydrates will make you to have more strength while taking in less. Thanks a lot : ) for your blog post.

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      Kristina 7 years ago

      You have to be careful, however, because there is a lot of hidden sugar where you wouldn't expect it. For instance, I'm willing to bet some, if not all, the dressings above have added sugar, even though you might not taste it. In addition, sugar is often added to marina sauce. I have to hunt at the grocery store to find one that doesn't have added sugar--there are usually only a few varieties. Just a word of caution!

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      Kathy 8 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I eat at Applebees often. I usually order the Shrimp Salad but now I know I have other options.

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      Stephanie 10 years ago

      Thanks for the info, it is real helpful!

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      Christina 10 years ago

      These were really helpful :) Thanks! If you ever uncover actual sites with the nutrition info for Applebees please post them...I recently discovered that the grilled simple chicken with a shrimp skewer and South Beach friendly smashed cauliflower at UNO's was almost 40 grams of fat and had a few too many carbs for the ideal Phase 1 dieter. Eeep! So, even if the menu seems safe, it may be harboring some sneaky fats, carbs, etc.

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      bigrange 10 years ago

      Thanksk for the tips. I'd be interested in others. Just started today and I do have to eat out a lot due to type of work I do. Thanks.