A Review of the South Beach Diet

How Does It Compare to the Atkins Diet?

If you are trying to sort out fiction from reality relative to the South Beach Diet, perhaps this article will help.

We took the long drive to my mothers on the weekend for a visit and there, front and center on her breakfast room table is a copy of the book the South Beach Diet. Well, we'd heard alot about it but hadn't yet had a chance to read the book to find out what it was all about.

Hype or break-through science?

Dr. Arthur Agatston, the author and creator of the South Beach Diet is a cardiologist based in south Florida. Several years ago, he developed a diet for his chronically overweight heart patients. Soon, thanks to the excellent results his patients were achieving, South Beach became all the rage and word has spread throughout North America.

The plan cuts carb and fat intake dramatically but perhaps the real value in the South Beach diet is that it educates people about the right foods to eat in order to cut the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, as well as helping them to lose weight. See our complete list of Diet and Weight Loss Program reviews here...

In summary and not surprisingly, the south beach diet teaches that to lose weight you must cut your intake of saturated fat and calories, find healthier ways of cooking, and eat regular meals that are well-balanced. And, most importantly, you should not look upon it as a short-term quick fix diet, but as a new way of life.

Similar to the Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet is divided into three different phases. The first phase lasts for two weeks. Each phase includes specific meal plans and recipes. Unlike the Atkins diet, however the doctor states that: "The South Beach Diet is not low-carb, nor is it low fat". Well, in fact (in my assessment) it's actually both.

The key difference between these two diets is that the SouthBeach Diet does not require exclusion of carbs, but is rather a change in the type of carbs consumed. Also, the SouthBeach Diet does not promote the consumption of saturated fat, which is commonly linked with cardiovascular disease. Instead, it encourages consumption of unsaturated fats, which are proven to promote health.

Agatston's weight loss advice focuses on a healthy balance between carbs and fats -- "good" carbs and fats, that is. Processed foods like baked goods and soft drinks are frowned upon with The South Beach Diet. Dr. Agatston says decreasing these kinds of 'bad' carbs will help you metabolize what you eat better and will also improve insulin resistance, leading to weight loss.

If you are used to low-fat, high-carb diets, phase one of the South Beach Diet is going to seem like a radical departure. However, the doctor says you will quickly get used to and become satisfied with eating the good carbs and fats and leaving the bad ones behind. The introductory section states that you can lose anywhere between 8 and 13 pounds in just the first two weeks.

Phase One
What can't you Eat?

Phase one is the strictest part of The South Beach Diet. For two weeks, you'll be totally eliminating fruit, bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, sugar, alcohol, and baked goods from your diet.

This is where the radical departure occurs. Think for a minute about doing away with these things (what! no wine?) and you realise you have to psych yourself up for the first phase. And worse still, say good-bye to junk food (well maybe that's not such a bad thing). However, after the initial two weeks are up, you can beginning adding the excluded foods back into your diet.

You can eat meat, chicken, turkey, fish, and shell-fish. You can easily find a South Beach Diet recipe incorporating your favorite type of meat. You can snack on meat, too, such as a turkey roll-up. You will also be eating vegetables, eggs, cheese, nuts, and salads.

Your responsibility on this plan is to eat until your hunger is satisfied (hey...I like that kind of responsibility!) This shouldn't be a problem since the meal plans include three meals, a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack, and even dessert after dinner!

How good is the food?

Though I haven't tried the diet yet myself, I have to say the meal plans sound good and there are many recipes included in the book. Many phase one menu items sounded great, such as Balsamic Chicken, Roasted Eggplant with Peppers, and Grilled Mahi Mahi.

The phase two recipes get even better with the likes of Broiled Sole in Light Cream Sauce and Baked Tomatoes with Basil and Parmesan. There are even desserts!

How difficult is it?

Dr. Agatston says even if you're a bread and pasta lover, you'll be able to get through these initial two weeks "painlessly". It seems you may not even have the urge to eat these types of foods once you get going on phase one. Dr. Agatston's patients who have previously followed his plan have said their cravings virtually disappeared.

The principle requiring the strict two-week introductory phase is that by following the specified plan, you can reprogram the way your body reacts to food.

In other words, by eating fewer of the foods that cause those nuisance cravings, you're in effect erasing the program you have become used to (you know, the one that got you overweight to start with). You shut down those cravings during phase one and then when you start adding carbs again, your system has had time to adjust.

Phase Two

At this time you can begin adding previously prohibited foods. Bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, fruit or cereal can be added to your meals... it's up to you.While you can't eat them all, nor eat the ones you choose without restriction, they'll no longer be off-limits. The key here is to re-introduce these foods in moderation and to not eat them as often as you did before.

Phase Three

Lastly, phase three is the final and least restrictive phase of The South Beach Diet. Dr. Agatston says as long as you follow some basic rules, you'll continue to manage your weight. In fact, he suggests you'll even forget you ever were on a diet and what you've learned will simply become a way of life.

Phase three is in fact your new way of life.

What do You Think?

Have you tried this diet? We're eager to hear what you think about it!Did you find it easy to adjust to or were those first two weeks horrible? Please drop us a line and let us know. You can use the form below.

Cheryl wrote us about her experiences with the South Beach Diet:

"I have never been one to try a diet, any diet. I would sweat in the gym however long it took to keep the pounds off but I never had the willpower to change my eating habits. But eventually my bad eating habits caught up with me. I found myself overweight with a diagnosed metabolic syndrome. I was alarmed at the path my health was headed down. My mother, who is a health nut, told me about the diet. At first I was reluctant but after a trip to the mall where those dressing room lights and mirrors hide nothing, I decided I needed to do something. My husband and I are doing this together. Phase I was a huge chore. We were in the habit of eating out most nights and now we had to actually shop and cook. We stuck to Phase I exactly as it was printed in the book. I had a few headaches on the 2nd and 3rd days but after that my hunger pains and cravings went away. I didn't notice a huge weight loss until I started Phase II (2 weeks after Phase I). Wow, the weight came off really quickly then! I have been on the diet for 2 months (still in Phase II) and I have lost 30 lbs. I love the diet, it is simple once you get used to it. The recipes are delicious. We felt like we were eating out gourmet every night. My Triglycerides levels have gone from 155 to 80. My HDL levels are still too low but I am now working out, per my doctor, to try to counter that. I feel great and I look much better. I highly recommend this diet to anyone who is serious about taking control of their habits and health." ...Cheryl

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