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The South Beach Diet-- Popular for A Good Reason!

Updated on July 15, 2014

South Beach Diet

A diet plan designed by Marie Almon, a dietician and Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist, the South Beach Diet is one of the more popular alternatives to low fat diets like the Pritikin and the Ornish diet which the American Heart Association advocated in the eighties. Even if the diet’s purpose was for the prevention of heart disease in the patients of Dr. Agatston, in the early millennium, the diet became quite popular and became a means of losing weight quite quickly during this time.

In the year two thousand five, a book called South Beach Diet was created under Rodale Books publishing.


The concept of the South Beach Diet is based on the idea that it is not necessary for dieters to avoid all carbohydrates or fats in order for weight to be lost. It advocates the consumption of good fats and good carbohydrates as well as controlling portion. This offers dieters a plan for a long term weight problem solution. It can also lead to weight loss that is nothing short of immediate. This diet is made up of 3 different phases. The first phase actually lasts for two weeks or fourteen days. The diet is designed in such a way that in the first two weeks, the diet can remove fat and bad carbs from your diet completely. Phase two lets gradual additions of dairy and whole grain food. The last or 3rd phase represents a healthy, new style of eating that is easily incorporated into a lifestyle change which is permanent.


The South Beach Diet is a diet program that has gained in popularity and puts the focus on correcting poor eating habits and reprogramming metabolism so that optimal health is promoted. A series of phases makes up this diet and for optimal success, dieters need to follow the phases. On the South Beach Diet, Phase 1 is the first step. At this time, dieters need to follow an eating plan strictly so that their cravings are reduced and their blood sugar is stabilized. When heading out to the store to stock up on supplies for the South Beach Diet, you will need to fill up your cart with food that fits into this popular diet plan.

How It Works

Once you have decided that this is the diet for you, you will need to do an elimination of all carbohydrates which are high-glycemic such as sugar, soft drinks, dairy, candy, grains, cereal, pasta, potatoes and bread. Again, this is something you will need to do on the first fourteen days. At the same time, consume normal portion sizes of healthy food such as cheese, eggs, vegetables, fish and lean meat. It is important that you eat 3 meals per day. In between meals, to satisfy cravings, consume small amounts of snacks which contribute to your health such as sugar-free candies, sugar-free gelatin, peanut butter and a variety of nuts.

Fluids and Fitness

At this point, you need to consume a lot of fluid. It is important that you drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day. You might also want to begin a regimen of fitness. Losing weight rapidly will result in muscle loss as well as fat. You can fight against the loss of muscle by maintaining and continuously developing a program of strength training which includes using dumbbells and machines for strength resistance.

Day Fourteen

On the fourteenth day of your diet, add small amounts of dairy products, fruit and whole grain food on the last day of phase one, which is the fourteenth day of your diet. Remember that these foods need to be gradually added back to your everyday diet in portions that are smaller than your consumption of the same food before you got on the South Beach Diet.

Phase 1: Beginning

Of the three phases of the South Beach Diet, phase 1 is the strictest and the shortest. This phase, as we mentioned previously, lasts for two weeks with its purpose to eliminate cravings for refined sugar and starches. While eating nutrient-dense food which are rich in fiber, dieters will stabilize their blood sugar. You are allowed to eat a snack two times each day and you should not feel deprived or hungry while on this diet.

The South Beach Diet phase one includes many good fats and protein. This phase is created in such a way that it has the lowest type of glycemic index carbohydrates. This will help dieters feel ‘full’ after a meal, ensuring that throughout the day, no hunger is felt and blood sugar is completely under control.

In this phase, dieters are allowed to enjoy meals of lamb and lean beef with the removal of visible fat. This includes turkey, shellfish, fish and chicken. Healthy options also include turkey breast, tuna, smoked salmon, Cornish hen, Canadian ham, lean bacon and swordfish. Vegetables are also allowed during the first phase of the South Beach Diet. The exceptions are yams, potatoes, corn, carrots and beets. Vegetables can be canned, fresh or frozen without sugar added. You can also eat legumes. There are a variety of ways that vegetables in phase one can be prepared including oven-baked, steamed or raw. Dishes comprised of vegetables can also include a vegetable quiche, spinach stuffed mushrooms and Asian coleslaw.

Make sure that when you eat cheese, it is the kind which is either low in fat or fat-free. Limit your vegetable juice intake of about 6 ounces per day. Also, dairy products like milk need to be either fat-free, one per cent or low-fat. You might also try skim or soy milk as tasty alternatives.

Dieters can also have salad with one hundred per cent olive oil, cheese, nuts and eggs. Low fat cottage cheese and Caesar salad are also great options for eating out. In moderation, you can enjoy certain nuts. During night or day, you can drink as much water as you want.

In phase one, the allowance for protein are generous as well. When you follow the guidelines you will lose an estimated eight to thirteen points during a course of 2 weeks.

In this phase, there are no food limitations but to satisfy your hunger, you need to eat meals that are normal in size. It is not a good idea to overeat at this point. It is recommended that dieters have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to further curb hunger felt throughout the day.

Phase 2: Eating Food You Actually Like

Since phase 1 is strict with regards to food, it is a bit tricky to begin phase 2. This is because you start to actually design your own lifestyle in terms of food at this point. The idea is to gradually introduce low glycemic carbs, high fiber and high nutrient food into your diet. What type and how much food you eat at this point varies from one person to another. It is a good idea to focus on the reactions of your own body as you add different types of carbohydrates. If one type of food causes weight gain or makes you crave more carbs, try something with less of a glycemic index. If you feel like you are lethargic or fuzzy-headed, try other types of food. During this phase, weight loss tapers off to about two pounds per week or less. The objective of this phase of the diet is to find the right level of carbohydrates just for you. This level is different for everybody.

During week 1 of phase 2, add one carb serving to the food you eat, and experiment to see how you are feeling. There is a big chance that you won’t encounter too many issues. Generally, select low glycemic starch food or fruit servings at this point. I tis recommended that you select fruit to have at dinner or lunch, as having these during breakfast may cause cravings. If you select whole grain food, find low-carb, high fiber cereal or bran with extra fiber or oatmeal that cooks slowly rather than the ‘instant’ variety. When you have breakfast cereal, make sure you include protein with this meal.

On week 2 of phase 2 of the South Beach Diet, add a 2nd serving daily of carbs, so that you eat one fruit serving and one starchy, high-fiber food every day, aside from all the other types of food you happen to be eating during this time. Remember to watch carefully for feelings of craving for carbohydrates. When this happens, switch to lower glycemic index food. If you find that bread gives you cravings, switch to grains such as brown rice.

Phase 3: Maintenance

Once you have reached your ideal weight, it is recommended that you maintain the South Beach Diet. This is actually the third phase of the diet and marks a change in your eating habits which is permanent. At this point, you can expand your intake daily to include 3 servings of fruit and whole grain.

Your Metabolism

This diet happens to be a diet strategy that is well-known and takes the Atkins core elements of carb restriction and high consumption of protein and tweaks this to make the diet easier. The way it does this is that it lets you eat certain carbs which benefit you while at the same time discouraging the consumption of fats which are unhealthy. This diet also has great effects on the way you metabolize energy. If someone you know or if you yourself are considering to follow this diet, you might want to know what happens to your metabolism, exactly.

The South Beach Diet affects your metabolism positively since it recommends six small meals evenly spaced throughout the day. Frequent, smaller feeding has been shown to be one of the best methods of keeping your metabolic rate running in higher gear day after day. The constant intake of food forces your body to become adapted to digesting food you ingest rapidly, which keeps your metabolism burning steady and bright.

Carb Allowance

When you eat more carbohydrates, the production of insulin increases. This maintains regular leptin production. The chemical leptin tells your brain that it is okay and safe to being using fatty cells as energy fuel. When there are low levels of leptin, which is what happens with a strict diet that consists of low carbohydrates, the brain does not really get the signal and slows your metabolic rate eventually. On the South Beach Diet, the inclusion of carbs means that the levels of leptin don’t drop and this keeps your metabolic rate constant through your diet regimen.

Greater Energy

Plus, the carbs allowed in this diet helps in the facilitation of a higher metabolism since it lets you work-out harder than you would be able to otherwise. If you have ever been on a low-carb diet that is prolonged, you will surely notice some lethargy that occurs now and then. Because of this, track or gym performances do suffer. This impairs your metabolism which won’t happen on the South Beach Diet. This is mainly due to the fact that the South Beach Diet does allow you a healthy dose of carbohydrates that truly benefits your body.

Eating Healthy Fat

When you get on this diet, you will be increasing your healthy fat intake particularly the omega-3 heart-healthy fat found in sea food, which is heavily recommended by the South Beach Diet. This is another way this diet gets your metabolism boosted. Aside from your metabolism getting a boost, eating omega 3 fat can decrease levels of fat in your abdomen, increase your level of feeling ‘full’ and improve your mood.

Six Meals a Day

Each day, when you consume 6 healthful meals, this will mean that you would normally increase your overall intake of calories. At the same time, the ones on this diet still rapidly lose weight. The reason is that metabolism is not exactly an exact figure, but instead it is a process which fluctuates constantly as a response to changes in the environment. When you increase your intake of food, it will become higher consistently. The natural result is that your metabolism increases. This is why people on this diet eat more but still drop fat content.


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    • elle64 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Scandinavia

      I agree with you, excersise, and eating in moderation.I think people always goes back to eating normal food after a diet.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 

      4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      My doctor recommended the South Beach diet after a heart attack a few years ago, but I failed to follow through. For me, an exercise regime coupled with a good all around eating habits and watching calories closely has worked - I'm a firm believer in permanently changing eating habits rather than a specific diet.


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