South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is a diet plan designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon as an alternative to low-fat approaches such as the Ornish Diet and the Pritikin Diet advocated by the American Heart Association in the 1980s. Although the original purpose of the diet was to prevent heart disease in Dr. Agatston’s own patients, in the early 2000s, word of the diet spread and quickly gained popularity as a means to lose weight

The South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is relatively simple in principle. It replaces “bad carbs” and “bad fats” with “good carbs” and “good fats.”

“Good carbs” vs “bad carbs”

According to Agatston, hunger cycles are triggered not by carbohydrates in general, but by carbohydrate-rich foods that the body digests quickly, creating a spike in blood sugar. Such foods include the heavily refined sugars and grains that make up a large part of the typical Western diet. The South Beach Diet eliminates these carbohydrate sources in favor of relatively unprocessed foods such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

“Good fats” vs “bad fats”

Given that South Beach Diet was designed by a cardiologist, it should be no surprise that it eliminates trans-fats and discourages saturated fats. Although foods rich in these “bad fats” do not contribute to the hunger cycle, they do contribute to LDL cholesterol and heart disease. The South Beach Diet replaces them with foods rich in unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acid which contribute to HDL cholesterol and provide other health benefits. Specifically, the diet excludes the fatty portions of red meat and poultry, replacing them with lean meats, nuts, and oily fish.

South Beach Diet Phases

Agatston divides the South Beach Diet into three phases, each progressively becoming more liberal. “Phase 1” lasts for the first two weeks of the diet. It eliminates all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, and some higher-glycemic vegetables as well. Its purpose is to eliminate the hunger cycle and is expected to result in significant weight loss. “Phase 2” continues as long as the dieter wishes to lose weight. It re-introduces most fruits and vegetables and some whole grains as well. “Phase 3” is the maintenance phase and lasts for life. There is no specific list of permitted and prohibited foods. Instead, the dieter is expected to understand the basic principles of the diet and live by the principles.

South Beach have an on-line program that includes an 800 recipe database, and options for vegetarians.