South Beach Diet: Not Just for Getting That Beach Body
If you’re into dieting and losing weight fast, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the South Beach diet. Well, even those who don’t do diets find this name pretty familiar. It’s a popular fad diet created by cardiologist Arthur Agatston. The dieting public was first introduced to it via his 2003 book, The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss.
The diet is named after a glamorous part of Miami. Some people consider the South Beach diet as a modified low-carb diet. The diet’s eating plan focuses on protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It also ensures a lower carb content. However, you don’t have to count your carb intake here, nor is it a strict low-carb diet.
It’s actually a pretty effective and well-liked diet, ranking at #24 for the best diets overall.
South Beach Diet History
The diet actually first started off as an idea developed in the mid-1990s by Agatston along with the help of Marie Almon, a chief dietitian at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Originally, the South Beach diet was called the Modified Carbohydrate Diet. It was later renamed after the neighborhood in Miami Beach where Agatston set up his practice.
At first, the diet was intended solely for Agatston’s patients, who had heart issues. The doctor built an eating plan that categorized carbs and fats as good or bad. The plan also put an emphasis on lean protein and fiber.
Gradually, the plan grew and became popular as an effective weight loss plan. The South Beach diet was not only popular with Agatston’s patients. It started gaining the interest of other people as well.
Patients were distributing and sharing copies of the diet plan to their family and friends. It gained even more popularity when in 1999, a Miami TV news show put people on the South Beach diet and broadcasted the amazing results.
Up to now, the South Beach diet still has a strong following.
So How Does It Work?
The diet teaches you to eliminate “bad” carbohydrates from your diet. It makes use of the glycemic index and the glycemic load to determine which carbs you should steer clear of.
The glycemic is basically a measurement of carb-containing food and their impact on our blood sugar. So the lower a certain food scores on the glycemic index, the better.
The South Beach diet also teaches its followers about the different kinds of fats. It encourages you to limit the consumption of unhealthy fats and eat more food with healthy monounsaturated fats.
Also, this diet puts emphasis on the benefits of fiber and whole grains. The diet greatly encourages adding fruits and vegetables in your eating plan.
Phases of the South Beach Diet
Similar to its close cousin, the Atkins diet, the SB diet also has its phases, though they’re fewer.
This phase lasts for 2 weeks. It’s designed to eliminate cravings for high-sugar food and refined starches. Almost all types of carbs is cut out from your diet. This includes rice, bread, pasta, and fruit. Also, fruit juice and alcohol are prohibited as well.
Instead, in this phase, you focus on eating lean protein. Some great options are lean beef, skinless poultry, seafood, and soy products. You are also encouraged to eat vegetables that are high in fiber, low-fat dairy, and food with healthy unsaturated fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocados.
This phase may take some time, depending on your progress. You stay on this phase until you reach your ideal goal weight.
In phase 2, you can start adding back some of the food that you couldn’t eat in phase 1. That means you can enjoy eating brown rice whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain breads, fruits, and even more vegetables. But only in moderation, of course.
This is considered as a maintenance phase that you live by for the rest of your life, or until you decide to stop eating healthy.
In this phase, you continue to follow the principles you learned in the two previous phases of the South Beach diet. Here, you can eat all types of food in moderation.
Of course, its top-most benefit is fast weight loss. The South Beach diet says that you will lose 8-13 pounds in just the first phase. The diet also says that most of the weight that will be shed off will be from your midsection. And once you continue on to phase 2, you will be losing 1-2 pounds every week.
Another benefit that you can get from the South Beach diet is better cardiovascular health. Since the eating plan promotes the consumption of lesser carbohydrates and unhealthy fats will improve your blood cholesterol levels.
Another positive is that the South Beach diet does not starve you. In fact, the eating plan actually encourages strategic snacking. Two periods of snacks is encouraged in order to get rid of hunger pangs. And since the diet promotes eating high-fiber food, this will promote fullness and feelings of satiety.
Another plus? This particular diet is meant to be super simple, practical, and uncomplicated. You don’t have to count calories, you don’t have to figure out percentages of fats, your meals aren’t tiny.
The meals the South Beach diet encourages are fairly easy to make. The ingredients aren’t hard to find either. They are easily available in most grocery stores or supermarkets.
The diet gives way as well to dietary restrictions or preferences. Note that flexibility is one of the South Beach diet’s guiding principles. The diet is also doable for vegans and vegetarians. It’s gluten-free too.
Going on specific diets can be a bit pricey. You might have to set aside a considerable budget for the food that you can consume. But it’s a given that eating healthy will cost you more than eating the normal food you would consume.
Also, preparing specific meals would take some time. Although pre-packed meals are available, they will cost you more.
Also, some who go on the South Beach diet may experience ketosis. This is when your body does not have enough sugar for energy. So what happens is your body breaks down stored fat, and this causes ketones to build up in your body. The negative side effects of ketosis include headaches, nausea, mental fatigue, dizziness, bad breath, and dehydration.
Another risk is a compromised vitamin and mineral intake. This is why if you choose to go on this diet, taking in certain supplements is necessary.
There is also insufficient scientific data on this particular diet. In fact, there is only one study that Agatston conducted himself. And it was with his own patients. It was not a long-term study, and the patient sample was not very large.