South Beach Diet

The South Beach diet is one of the most popular diets among people in their early 20s and late 40s. South Beach is a recognized heart-healthy diet, which incorporates three daily meals with normal-sized portions and a balanced intake of carbohydrates and fats. Many find that, by following the recommended recipes, the South Beach diet is one of the most effective and easiest diets to use for maintenance of weight loss.

Development of the South Beach Diet

A well-known cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agatston originally created this diet for his patients. In developing the South Beach diet, Dr. Agatston wanted to ensure that people would continue to eat well and adopt an eating regimen beneficial to the long-term health of their hearts.

Dr. Agatston based his findings for the South Beach diet on the premise that people who consume empty carbohydrates and bad fats are more likely to become hungry. Carbohydrates and fats that have a high caloric value but little nutritional content will not convert into long-lasting energy for the body. Consuming such foods only leads to further cravings, as the body seeks out the energy it needs.

The Basics of South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet consists of three phases. While the first two phases constitute the induction period, the last focuses on maintaining weight loss. If at any point during this diet program you start to gain the weight back, you will need to return to Phase 1 and start over.

Phase 1

During Phase 1 of the South Beach diet you are not allowed to eat any carbohydrates, including:

  • baked goods
  • beer
  • bread
  • fruit
  • liquor
  • pasta
  • potatoes
  • rice
  • wine.

This phase lasts two weeks, and most people report that they lose between 8 and 13 pounds during this time.

Since this is the hardest part of the diet, many people have created and published South Beach diet recipes free of carbohydrates. Some of the foods you will see in these recipes include:

  • eggs
  • lean meats (such as turkey, fish and chicken)
  • low-fat cheeses
  • nuts
  • vegetables that have a low glycemic index (such as asparagus, broccoli and spinach).

Throughout this first phase of the South Beach Diet, you will still be able to eat normal-sized portions, a variety of foods and two snacks throughout the day. The key is not to go hungry but to change the foods that you eat.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the South Beach diet is when you can start to reincorporate carbohydrates back into your diet. The key in this stage is a slow reintroduction of the carbohydrates not allowed in Phase 1. You should expect to see 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss each week. You will remain in this stage for as long as it takes to reach your ideal weight.

Phase 3

This is the maintenance stage of the South Beach diet that you will follow throughout your life. Many South Beach Diet recipes can help you choose good carbohydrates and fats to keep your weight at a favorable level.

The Pros and Cons of the South Beach Diet

Like any diet, the South Beach diet has both benefits and drawbacks in the way it affects your overall health and wellbeing. Experts suggest that people who have kidney problems or diabetes should talk to their doctors before starting this diet. Generally, it is always a good idea to have a physical exam and notify your doctor whenever you start a new diet program.

The Pros of South Beach Diet

Those who follow the South Beach Diet benefit from:

  • a decrease in the risk of developing Insulin Resistance Syndrome, a condition that can lead to hypertension and diabetes
  • a decrease in risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease
  • a decrease in risk of developing high cholesterol.

Similarly, because the South Beach Diet focuses on healthy foods (such as lean proteins and whole grains), people on this diet will enjoy the health benefits associated with eating balanced, nutritious meals.

The Cons of South Beach Diet

Some of the negative aspects of following the South Beach Diet include:

  • a lack of dairy products in many South Beach Diet recipes

  • an increase in fatigue, cravings and irritability in first phase (This is typically a result of the body adjusting to a lack of carbs.)

  • difficulty completing the first phase or “induction period ” in which dieters can ‘t eat carbs
  • rapid weight loss in the first phase (Many experts do not recommend diets that include rapid loss as sustainable, long-term solutions.)
  • the possibility of Ketosis (a state regarded as the body’s reaction to a lack of carbohydrates in the diet) with symptoms of dizziness, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems and glucose body depletion
  • the risk of electrolyte imbalance caused by rapid water weight loss.

South Beach Diet During Pregnancy

Experts advise that pregnant women should not diet using the Phase 1 stage of the South Beach diet. Carbohydrates and fats are essential to fetal development and the health of expectant mothers. The basic premise of the diet, which promotes eating good carbohydrates and fats, is healthy to follow during pregnancy. Experts recommend that expectant mothers start the diet in Phase 2 and continue with adequate caloric intake.

South Beach Diet While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding mothers should wait two months after childbirth, or at least until the baby is eating solid foods, before beginning Phase 1. A mother’s breast milk is most nutritious when she is consuming a full and balanced diet. Thus, experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers, like pregnant women, begin the South Beach diet in Phase 2. Many of the diet’s recipes can help the breastfeeding mother consume the nutrition she needs to eat to lose weight at a healthy rate while continuing to provide nutrition to the baby.