The South Beach Diet
Cardiologist Arthur Agatston of Miami, Florida developed the South Beach Diet as a heart-healthy weight loss method. Fans of the South Beach Diet always emphasize the fact that it is not a low or no carb diet, but is, rather, a diet focused on “good carbs” and “good fats.”
However, Agatston does firmly believe that carbs are the problem in most people’s diets. Carbohydrates get your body addicted to taking its energy from sugar, and Agatston believes that if you can break that addiction, your body will start to process food in a different, healthier way that will contribute to weight loss.
The focus of the South Beach plan is to get people off carbs that rank high on the glycemic index, and contain little nutritional value, and onto eating carbs that have a low glycemic index, and a high nutrient value. Your body will process these carbs slowly and effectively, which means that you’ll be less likely to binge on them, and more likely to lose weight.
The South Beach Diet also emphasizes “good fats,” which means dieters stay away from saturated and trans fats, and focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This is an important step away from the Atkins’ diet, which allows for any toxic type of animal fat, and evidence shows certain animal fats can lead to heart problems.
The South Beach Diet involves a three-phase plan. Phase One is a two week extreme diet in which you cut everything out of your meal plans except proteins like eggs and lean meat, certain low-glycemic index vegetables, a small amount of oil and low-fat dairy, and nuts.
This diet plan is supposed to break your addiction to sugar, and it is an exciting beginning to the diet, as most dieters lose between 8 – 13 pounds in those first two weeks.
After two weeks of no bread, no fruit, and no sweets, you move on to Phase Two. At this point, you slowly reintroduce small amounts of good carbs and good fats into your diet, although only occasionally, and in small amounts. Weight loss slows down in Phase Two to only a pound or two a week, but that’s because the point is to diet safely, healthily, and permanently.
Phase Two continues until you have reached your goal weight, and involves eating lots of lean proteins, moderate amounts of vegetables, and 1 – 3 items of fruit, starch, and dairy per day.
At this stage, you should be learning to eat moderately – it’s your job to stop eating not when you are full, but when you are no longer hungry. South Beachers should have the glycemic index memorized, and only indulge very occasionally in foods that go over that 55 GI mark.
Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you move on to Phase Three: The Rest of Your Life. The South Beach Diet emphasizes the importance of eating right not only until you’re thin, but forever.
In Phase Three you are allowed to eat pretty much whatever you want, but you are supposed to have learned to consume regular portion sizes, which are small, and to have broken your addiction to the bad carbs and fats that have been holding you back your whole life.
If, by chance, you do end up falling off the wagon at any point during Phase Three, you simply go back to Phase One and stay there until you are back to your ideal weight.
Below, you’ll find a concise list of pros and cons that should give you a good idea of what you can expect from the South Beach Diet:
– When done properly, South Beach Diet is a heart-healthy diet.
– The South Beach Diet plan does teach dieters a lot about nutrition, good fats and good carbs, and developing good eating habits.
– The South Beach Diet emphasizes the importance of healthy eating for life.
– Dieters do not have to count calories and grams of fat, they are simply taught to eat smart according to Dr. Agatston’s rules.
– Emphasizes a move away from processed foods, which are essentially poison, diet or no diet.
– Has a comprehensive official website where dieters can go for advice and support.
– Fails to put sufficient emphasis on exercise as an integral part of losing weight and getting healthy.
– Recommends the ingestion of artificial sweeteners as a way to get your fix while dieting, although many of these sweeteners are believed to be unsafe.
– The weight lost during the first two weeks of dieting is essentially water weight, which will return quickly once the dieting stops.
– Phase One, in which dieters experience dramatic weight loss, is basically a protein diet, although Dr. Agatston claims that this is not the case.
– Phase One offers dieters a dangerous formula for losing weight fast that they may harm them when used excessively.
– Two weeks is by no means long enough to break a lifelong simple carb and sugar addiction for all people.
– The South Beach Diet is not the miracle program it claims to be, and all dieters may not enjoy permanent and healthy weight loss.