The South Beach Diet has been compared to the Atkins Diet in that carbohydrates are restricted. Both contain an induction phase and both contain a long-term maintenance plan. However, there are a lot of differences between the two, despite popular thinking.
Both diets were created by medical doctors, but the South Beach Diet emphasizes a heart healthy lifestyle. The diet plan was designed by Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist, and a dietician named Marie Almon. The diet plan was originally created for Dr. Agatston’s heart patients to prevent disease, but took off as one of the leading weight loss diet plans in the world.
How the South Beach Diet Works
The primary focus of the South Beach Diet is simple. It takes bad carbohydrates and fats and replaces them with good carbohydrates and fats. According to Agatston’s beliefs, the Western diet is comprised of carbohydrate rich foods that are quickly digested, causing a blood sugar spike and increased hunger. Within the South Beach Diet, these carb sources are removed and good ones put in place.
Some of the good carbohydrates used to replace the bad ones include, fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Nothing is processed, but rather fresh and clean. Those fresh and raw foods that have a low glycemic index are considered to be good carbohydrates.
Good fats and bad fats are fairly straightforward. The cardiologist designates bad fats as saturated or trans-fats, which are completely removed during the South Beach Diet plan. These fats are replaced with unsaturated fats or foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are fats which help promote HDL cholesterol and provide the body with other health benefits. Fried foods, fatty meats and even fatty poultry are eliminated throughout the plan and replaced with healthy fat sources such as raw nuts, olive oil, avocado and fish.
South Beach Diet Phases
The South Beach Diet is made up of three phases, with the early phase being highly restrictive and the latter phase more liberal with foods. During phase 1, which lasts approximately two weeks, sugar is completely eliminated. All processed carbohydrates, fruits and high-glycemic vegetables are also removed during this phase. The goal of phase 1 is to eliminate hunger and shed a significant amount of weight.
The second phase, or phase 2, continues the plan as long as the individual has unwanted weight to lose. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are re-introduced and strategic snacking and food consumption becomes crucial in the success of this stage.
During phase 3, which is designed to be the maintenance stage, there is no specific list of foods the dieter is supposed to consume. This stage is to be followed for life as the dieter adapts all of the principles learned throughout the diet plan and then lives by those beliefs. A lot of freedom is given throughout the phase 3 stage. Dieters entering the maintenance stage have lost the weight they desired and are now maintaining their weight. While fatty foods and poor carbohydrates are discouraged there is no prohibited food list offered at this stage.
South Beach Diet Exercise
Fitness is a component of the South Beach Diet. Some of the more successful dieters have incorporated exercise into the program for lasting results. The recommendation from the diet is that any type of cardiovascular exercise helps to improve results and weight loss. Exercise is not highly promoted throughout the plan but Dr. Agatston does recommend the importance of it to improve weight loss goals.
Walking and other mild forms of cardiovascular exercises are recommended for people with a lot of weight to lose, while running, swimming and jogging are emphasized for those who do not have a significant amount of weight to drop.
South Beach Diet Pros and Cons
The diet has shown proven results for weight loss and improved heart health throughout the years, although criticism remains. Below are some of the pros and cons surrounding the South Beach Diet.
- Rapid weight loss occurs during the first two weeks of the induction phase of the diet.
- Dieters enjoy a balanced lifestyle that includes fresh vegetables and fruits that wouldn’t otherwise be eaten on a regular basis.
- The digestive tract is improved through the consumption of whole grains and high fiber fruits and veggies.
- Strategic snacking is implemented to prevent hunger.
- The plan offers a maintenance stage, which doesn’t leave the dieter in limbo.
- Healthy tips and lifestyle changes are addressed throughout the plan so the dieter may become informed and knowledgeable in the area of weight loss.
- The diet has been lumped together with other fad diets and dismissed as just another quick approach to weight loss.
- Little known research has been shows to reveal a true maintenance stage. The question remains if dieters have been able to keep the weight off once finished with the South Beach Diet.
- Nutritionists have warned about the neglect of the body’s electrolyte balance during phase 1 of the diet.
With so many diets on the market today, it can be challenging to find the one that best suits your lifestyle. Many diets promise quick results without supplying tips on how to keep the weight off once it has been lost. The South Beach Diet offers healthy tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Agatson’s motto, “A diet is useless if it cannot be kept,” is true in that most people are looking for long-term results. Why start a diet if the results only last a few weeks? The South Beach Diet’s maintenance plan is designed to keep the weight off while promoting a healthier you.