South Beach Diet

Developed by Dr Agatston in 1999, to help patients avoid or combat heart problems, it also boasts weight loss. Celebrity successes include Bill and Hillary Clinton. It works on the idea that carbs cause weight gain, which is similar to the Atkins diet, however the South Beach diet does not eliminate carbs completely. It divides them into ‘good’ carbs (e.g. high fibre cereals, wheat breads) and ‘bad’ carbs (e.g. biscuits, pasta).

‘Bad’ carbs make you feel full temporarily, but cause your blood sugar levels to rise sharply. When they fall again they leave you feeling lethargic and hungry. The South Beach diet also differentiates between ‘good’ fats (monounsaturated) and ‘bad’ fats (saturated). You eat 3 healthy balanced meals a day and snacks are allowed, however, by eating the right kinds of foods you will feel fuller for longer.

The South Beach diet works in 3 phases.

Phase One – 2 weeks of strict dieting. This is the initial weight loss period. You still eat normal portion sizes but nearly all carbs are avoided. In studies people lost between 8 -13 lbs. during this phase.

Phase Two lasts until you reach your desired weight. ‘Good’ carbs are slowly introduced while weight loss continues.

Phase Three – returning to normal. This is all about maintaining your desired weight with a healthy balanced diet. If at any point the dieter starts to gain weight again simply return to phase one.

As with all diets it is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and it is also recommended that followers of the South Beach diet take a daily calcium supplement. It is not recommended for people with kidney problems. Always consult a doctor or dietician before undertaking weight loss plans.

Dr Agatston says “Everyone will cheat or fall off the wagon at times. This does not mean forget it.”

South Beach diet: Reasons for

  • Scientifically sound and recommended by Dr Cheskin of the John Hopkins Weight Management Centre.
  • It improves cholesterol and insulin levels
  • It does not omit any major food groups, rather it is about finding a balance
  • It had only a 5% drop out rate in tests
  • You don’t have to exercise!

South Beach diet: Reasons against

  • Much of the initial weight loss may just be water loss caused by cutting out carbs.
  • Can be limiting if you are unable to eat or dislike dairy products.
  • It can be hard to find the time to prepare meals in a busy modern lifestyle and it is easy to be tempted by fast food and ready meals.

South Beach diet: verdict

Overall this is a good diet. It keeps your heart healthy while reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol. It has one of the lowest dropout rates for modern diets and provides practical eating patterns. It provides quick weight loss at the beginning and a steady weight loss continues until you reach your ideal weight. With this diet the weight is more likely to stay off.

The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss

~Arthur Agatston
Rodale Press
Hardcover – 1 April, 2003

Cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatston originally tailored this diet for his patients to improve the state of their hearts, and of course their general health as well. But almost by mistake, they began to lose weight too, growing in popularity as it did so. Developed with the help of a professional nutritionist, Dr Agatston’s diet provides easy-to-follow eating plans and recipes to keep you firmly on track.

The recipes are simple to prepare and aim to lose weight from the waist first. The results and health benefits are immediate and long-term and positive results can start to show within just two weeks. There is no counting of calories, no fighting with exercises and no banned foods.