The South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet was created by a cardiologist and a dietician.  Arthur Agatston (cardiologist), and Marie Almon (dietician). They used a low-fat diet that was similar to the Ornish Diet and Pritikin Diet. Both of these diets were supported by the American Heart Association back in the 80’s.

southbeach diet

Fig 1. SouthBeach diet chart

The South Beach Diet was designed to lower the cholesterol levels which would reduce the risk of heart disease.  The diet also uses the Glycemic Index to rank food by their glycemic load.   The Glycemic Index measures blood glucose levels after a person eats certain types of foods.  “Cutting carbs and fats from your diet isn’t a key to losing weight fast…Its choosing the right carbs and fats,” according to Arthur Agatston, M.D.

Agatston developed a three-step system that would help his heart patients lose weight and also help them lower their cholesterol.  The South Beach Diet didn’t start to gain popularity until the early 2000’s and has become one of the most popular diets.

The name “South Beach” came from the Miami area where the company is based.  The South beach Diet is similar to the Atkins Diet in the sense of low carb diets but both have chosen different avenues to use the low carb diet to help their patients lose weight.

The South Beach Diet maintains a balance between good carbs and good fats but wants you to avoid sweet, sodas and baked goods.  In addition, it will help you lose those nasty cravings, boost your metabolism and shed those unwanted pounds for life.

All diet work as long has you follow the guidelines and do a regular exercise program. Diets alone cannot do it; you have to include an exercise program.

While on the South Beach Diet you can eat 6 meals a day. Like most diets: you have your main meals, a few snacks and a dessert.  Now that we got the basics as to what the diet is all about, let’s look at the 3 steps that make up the diet.

Step 1
Agatston says that you will probably lose between 8-13 pounds in the first 2 weeks of the diet.
Step 1 will be the hardest of the 3 steps.
Help you stabilize your blood-sugar levels and lose those sugary food cravings.
Weight Loss
Help kick start your weight loss and if you have more than 10 pounds to lose.
14 Days
You'll eat plenty of foods you still enjoy so you'll never get hungry.
No fruit is allowed when going through step 1. It will be added in slowly after you complete step 1.  This step is very low carb.  You follow a very ketogenic-like diet.

Step 2
More Foods
Re-introduce foods from the avoid list from Step 1. You choose which food you want to add back into your diet: potatoes, cereal, fruit, rice, bread or pasta. The idea here is to choose wisely and to eat in moderation.
Weight Loss
More slowly than on Phase 1. Your weight loss will be between 1 and 2 pounds a week. So don’t get discouraged but continue on the plan and you will reach your weight loss goal.
Goal Weight
You will stay on Step 2 till you reach your weight-loss goal.

Step 3
This is the final step in the diet which is life time maintenance.
You can add any food you want at this point.
Foods in Moderation
At this point enjoy any food in moderation.
Goal Weight
If you start getting off track you can go back to Phase 1 or 2.
Weight Off for Good
Maintain your weight and healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

The goal is to keep your caloric intake steady and around BMR – 10%.  Basal metabolic rate (BMR) = weight x 12, subtract 10% and you have your daily ratios.  The 3 steps of the SB Diet really shift you from a ketogenic, low-carb state to a more normal diet within caloric guidelines.


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