The South Beach Diet was created by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist. He designed the diet for his heart patients, who were looking to both lower their cholesterol and lose weight, after discovering that other diet plans either didn’t work or weren’t particularly healthy.
This diet is frequently compared to the Atkins diet because both plans hone in on carb reduction as a method of weight loss. However, the difference between the two is that the South Beach Diet is focused on eliminating bad carbs and isn’t designed to greatly reduce all types of carbs.
One of the major benefits of the diet is that there is significant weight loss in the first two weeks of the diet, and people are able to lose between eight and 13 pounds during this time frame. From there, weight loss continues at a steady pace, and individuals lose approximately one to two pounds per week. Further, this diet is considered by many to be easier to follow than alternatives because it is designed to keep you full and is less restrictive than other options.
The South Beach Diet doesn’t have an incredibly specific structure, so it’s a great option for vegetarians and people who are trying to go gluten-free. There’s no calorie counting, and there are a number of books and meal plans to help you figure out recipes and snacks. The diet is even flexible enough for you to eat out without running into problems or having to cheat, and this is especially true once you exit the first stage of the diet.
Celebrity Success Stories
There are a number of celebrities who have used the South Beach Diet to lose weight and swear by it. Even individuals who have personal trainers and chefs need to figure out a way to eat right so that they can get rid of excess weight and keep it off, and it makes sense that they would use a system that has worked well for many others.
Bette Midler – The Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress struggled to lose weight after giving birth to her daughter. She told Larry King that she used the South Beach diet to achieve her weight loss goals and to help her get into shape for her Las Vegas show, Hello Dolly.
Bill Clinton – Even former presidents aren’t immune from the effects of too much junk food and not enough exercise. In 2004, Clinton lost a significant amount of weight, and he attributed his success to the South Beach Diet and working out with a trainer.
Oprah – The well-known talk show host and life guru has tried a number of diets throughout her career. While she continues to flit from diet plan to diet plan, she has spoken positively of the South Beach Diet. Additionally, her website specifically states that the most successful weight-loss plans involve reducing carbs and getting more exercise.
Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker – Both alums of Sex and The City have stated that the South Beach Diet has helped them keep their slim figures.
Jessica Simpson – When preparing for her role as Daisy Duke in the big-screen adaptation of Dukes of Hazzard, Simpson hit the gym in a big way and adopted the South Beach Diet to help her achieve a lean and toned look.
How The Diet Works
According to Dr. Agatston, he created the South Beach Diet plan because he found that his patients were struggling to lose weight when they followed the diet that was being prescribed by the American Heart Association. At the time, the AHA recommended a low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet. While the AHA diet didn’t seem to be doing much for many of his patients, the doctor noticed that other patients, who were following the Atkins diet, were having much greater success at losing weight.
Dr. Agatston was uncomfortable suggesting a high-fat and low-carb diet to his heart patients since it could easily make their heart-related issues worse even as they lost weight. In an effort to provide a better alternative, he worked with Marie Almon, who used to be the chief dietitian at Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, and created the South Beach Diet.
Carbs and Glycemic Index
The South Beach Diet is not actually based on eliminating carbs from your diet. In fact, Dr. Agatston has stated, “It is my purpose to teach neither low-fat nor low-carb. I want you to learn to choose the right fats and the right carbs.”
With a standard diet, anywhere from 45 to 65 percent of daily calories come from carbs, so if you follow a 2,000 calorie a day diet, it works out to about 225 to 325 grams of carbs. Following the Atkins diet, your intake is reduced to as little as 50 grams of carbs per day. However, the South Beach Diet is far less restrictive, and it allows around 140 grams of carbs per day.
According to Dr. Agatston, there are good carbs and bad carbs and good fats and bad fats. Different molecular and chemical makeups of fats and carbs cause your body to process them in different ways, so the goal is to eat foods that provide benefits and don’t pack on pounds.
The way that good carbs and bad carbs are determined is by looking at their glycemic index. Foods that have a high glycemic index increase your blood surge faster, higher and for longer periods of time than foods with a lower index. Studies indicate that increased blood sugar levels lead to greater appetite, which in turn means more eating and weight gain. Therefore, weight loss isn’t so much about not eating any carbs as not eating the wrong carbs.
Phases of the Diet
There are three phases to the diet, and the first is the most restricted and provides the greatest amount of weight loss. The second phase allows you to eat more carbs, but it still limits the amount of fats and carbs that you eat. The final phase is one that you adopt for the rest of your life, and it helps to both keep you healthy and allow you to maintain your weight.
This is the stage of the diet that helps you get used to not eating as many carbs, and it is also the most restrictive. You spend two weeks in phase one, and it is designed to jump-start weight loss without making you feel hungry all the time. During this time, high-carb items like pasta, bread, rice, fruit and alcohol are not allowed.
What you can eat and should focus on are foods with lean protein, such as seafood, lean beef, poultry without skin and products made with soy. Additionally, your diet during this phase should also include foods that have unsaturated fats, like avocados, seeds and nuts. You are also allowed low-fat dairy and high-fiber vegetables.
During this phase, you are instructed to eat three meals a day along with dessert. You’ll also eat two snacks each day even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry. The goal is to help ensure that you don’t have trouble maintaining proper eating during phase one, and hunger can often lead to cheating or a struggle to stay on track.
There is no set amount of time that you’ll need to stay on phase two; you maintain this phase until you have reached your weight loss goal. Your weight loss will probably slow down from what it was in the first phase where people can lose more than 10 pounds in two weeks. However, you should be able to keep losing a steady one to two pounds a week in this phase. It can be unhealthy to lose more than a pound or two a week over a long period of time.
In this phase, you’ll start eating carbs again, but you’ll do so incrementally. It’s important to note that you need to start eating carbs again for health reasons as well as to ensure that you’re able to keep weight off. As long as you eat a reasonable amount of the right types of carbs, you should not gain weight back.
Phase two has the same format as phase one, which involves three meals a day and two snacks. However, you are able to slowly introduce carbs back into your diet. You should be eating carbs that are healthy, high-fiber and complex, such as whole grains, fruit, brown rice and potatoes.
Adding carbs back into your diet is a day by day process, and you should add one carb to a single meal each day for a week. As you start eating increasing amounts of carbs, you should find that you’re sleeping better, have more energy and continue to lose weight. If you find that increasing your carb intake triggers weight gain, increased appetite or food cravings, it may be a good idea to switch back to phase one.
The third phase of the diet has no time limit because you’re supposed to follow it for the rest of your life to maintain your weight and health. One of the reasons that carbs have to be reintroduced in your diet in phase two is because you’ll need to be able to transition to phase three. Additionally, carbs have nutrients that are important to your overall health.
If you’re interested in following this diet plan, there are a several things that you can purchase to help you meet your weight loss goals. Below are a few books by Dr. Arthur Agatston as well as some South Beach Diet based snacks.
The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss
This is the original book by Dr. Agatston that outlined and explained his weight loss plan. Along with talking about why he decided to create the diet, which is that his patients struggled with other plans, he also outlines how his diet plan works and what the potential health benefits are beyond weight loss.
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life
This is the most recent version of the original weight loss guide by Dr. Agatston. Along with providing the basics of the diet plan, a fitness program is also outlined. The fitness program focuses on low- and high-intensity interval exercise and core body-toning exercises. There are also a variety of recipes included to help you plan your meals.
The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook: 200 Delicious Recipes Ready in 30 Minutes or Less
The cookbook is filled with easy to make recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they can be made with 10 ingredients or fewer. Along with a number of standard recipes, there are 25 that have been created by professional chefs from Miami.
The South Beach Diet Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide: The Complete and Easy Reference for All Your Favorite Foods
While cookbooks can help you meal plan and find new favorite foods and recipes, you probably also want to be able to create your own meals. This companion to the first South Beach Diet book will allow you to figure out which foods and ingredients will help you stay on the plan. It may also help you make better and more informed choices when eating out.
Along with books to help guide you, there are a number of snack foods that are made specifically to work with the South Beach Diet. They are a great option for when you are on the go or want something quick and easy to take with you. Some of the most popular items are the Fudgy Chocolate Mint Bars, the Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Chunk Bars and the Chocolate Truffle Snack Smoothies.