The South Beach Diet is a three-phase weight loss program designed by dietician Marie Almon and cardiologist Arthur Agatston. It is often compared to the Atkins Diet because both eating plans promote lean protein and high-fiber vegetable while restricting carbohydrates and sugar.
However, unlike the Atkins, the South Beach Diet discourages unhealthy fats and allows some heart-friendly carbohydrates. The plan carefully addresses a variety of common dieting problems, including weight maintenance.
The core aim of the South Beach Diet is to stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce your appetite.The theory behind the weight loss plan suggests that because highly processed carbohydrates are digested very quickly by the body, they cause insulin levels to spike resulting in cravings for unhealthy snacks.
By cutting out carbohydrates and replacing them with lean meat, your hunger, and overall calorie intake decrease.
How the South Beach Diet Works
The diet follows 3 phases which each have a specific purpose:
– Phase 1: Cut cravings
The aim of this two-week phase is to stabilize your blood sugar and completely eliminate your cravings for refined starches and sugary foods.
The types of food you can eat are severely restricted, so you should expect to lose 8-13 pounds.
During phase 1 you are allowed to eat two snacks and three nutrient-rich meals per day.
Each meal should include two portions of unsaturated fat, and unlimited lean protein (such as fish, shellfish, poultry, tofu, and certain cuts of beef).
For your snacks, you can choose from dry roasted nuts, low-fat cheese, or plain yogurt. Alcohol, full-fat dairy products, fruit, and all starchy carbohydrates, including bread, are strictly off limits.
– Phase 2: Gradual Weight Loss
Most dieters find phase 2 a lot easier than the first phase partly because the restriction is more moderate, and partly because they have already tackled their cravings for carbs and sugar.
Weight loss is expected to be one or two pounds a week, and the stage lasts for however long it takes you to reach your target weight.
In this phase, you can reintroduce whole grain carbohydrates, red wine, fruit, semisweet chocolate, and certain legumes. It is suggested that you increase your intake of carbohydrates by one portion each week up to three portions, but reduce that amount if you fail to lose weight.
– Phase 3: Maintenance
In phase 3 all types of food are allowed. To maintain your healthy weight, you are advised to use the habits learned during the first two phases to help you make smarter choices.
Limiting your portions sizes and consuming only a small amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates are recommended.
The following is a typical menu for phase 1 of the South Beach Diet:
- 1 glass of tomato juice,;
- 1 poached egg;
- smoked salmon;
- mushrooms fried in olive oil
- Slices of cucumber and pepper with 3 tbsp. low-fat cottage cheese
- Caesar salad with 2 tbsp. Caesar dressing, no croutons
- Part skim mozzarella cheese stick.
- Grilled salmon, oven-roasted vegetables, green salad, low-fat dressing
- Sugar-free Jell-O.
Will it work for you?
The high-protein diet eliminates cravings, so if snacking is your downfall, then the South Beach Diet is ideal.
However, quantities of protein and vegetables are not limited, so if you can’t resist massive portions or second helpings, then the diet may be ineffective.
Vegetarians are likely to struggle, as protein makes up a large proportion of food intake.
The South Beach Diet is a healthy choice when compared to other popular high-protein diets because it recommends heart-healthy fats, whole grains, and only lean meat.
However, any eating plan that eliminates whole food groups, like phase 1 of the diet, is not a healthy way to eat long term.
The South Beach Diet is not suitable for people with kidney problems or high cholesterol, so consult your doctor before you begin.