If you have found yourself floundering in a sea of fad diets, yo-yoing between weight loss and bingeing, cravings and restrictions, it may not be long before you find yourself washed up on the shores of the South Beach diet. It is a relatively new approach to food that is growing in popularity and being praised by many as a sensible diet that offers realistic and maintainable weight loss results.

What is the South Beach Diet?

girl showing loose pants after weight loss

The South Beach Diet is often confused with the Atkins diet, since they both involve stages that restrict certain foods, and then slowly reintroduce them. However in reality, they are very different; whereas the Atkins diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet, the South Beach diet is focused on being low-fat, and although it is selective in the carbohydrates it allows, it does not limit them altogether.

There are no tiny portions or working out net weights like with the Atkins diet, and if you are a fan of snacking, you can take heart; the South Beach diet encourages it, as long as you are making the right food choices. But don’t relax quite yet; the South Beach Diet still requires a high-level of self-control, and you may have to wave goodbye to some of your favourite foods for good.

Created by cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatston, the South Beach diet originally had the far less sexy, but more self-explanatory name, “The Modified Carbohydrate Diet”, and was designed with his patients in mind. He became aware that patients on low-fat diets were prone to eating more simple carbohydrates, which the body quickly converted to fat and compounded their weight and heart-health problems.

The answer, he believed, was to be highly selective about the carbohydrates that were consumed, choosing those with a lower glycemic index (GI) over simpler carbs. These low GI carbs are more complex, and broken down by the body at a much slower, steadier rate; the result was that the patient did not suffer the peaks and troughs in blood sugars that simple carbs produce, which result in food cravings and inconsistent energy levels. So, the dieter could stay in control of food consumption, and weight loss could be steadily and safely achieved, improving heart health, and reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes.

The Rules:

This is not a diet that you can cheat on, and the rules are not totally simple. However, this diet is intended to be viewed as a lifestyle change and a new approach to food, rather than a temporary fix. So once you are familiar with the rules, you can adapt them to your tastes, and use them for life!

Stage One: The Induction:
Get ready to have a fairly miserable 2 weeks, as for this stage you will need to cut out most of your carbohydrates to give your body a chance to adjust to its new regime. This means avoiding bread, wheat, rice, fruit, pastry, potatoes and all alcohol. Dairy products are limited to two servings a day in this first stage, and as for meat, only lean cuts are allowed, as well as proteins like chicken, fish, eggs and nuts. It goes without saying that you can forget about your old friend sugar- a definite South Beach no-no!
Stage Two: Re-Introducing Carbs:
After your two-week intense start to the diet, you will be between 8-13 lbs lighter. All you need to do now is achieve a steady weight-loss, and you are on the right track to reaching your target weight. You can start slowly introducing carbohydrates to you diet following the low-GI guidelines; this mean wholegrains, rice and cereals. Fruit is also allowed again. Stage two is really open-ended and you can continue it, making sure your diet is as varied as possible, until you reach your target weight.
Stage Three: The Maintenance:
Once you reach your target weight, you’ll have experienced a whole new way of eating, and be familiar with what is good for your weight-loss and food cravings, and what should be avoided. The thinking is that at this stage, you can eat whatever you want, but you will approach food with what you have learnt in mind, and be sensible in your food choices. Your focus should be on low-fat meats and proteins, a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, good fats like olive oil and avocado, and fruit.

Are there Risks?

This diet, given its sensible approach to food, is generally considered safe- it promotes a balanced diet, which is varied in its foods and rich in unsaturated fats, whilst keeping saturated fats to a minimum. However, stage one of the diet may cause some dieticians concern, as limiting carbohydrate intake could lead to ketosis, where fat stores are burned, and which sometimes results in headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

What the Papers Say:

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What People On The Web Say:

It Helped Me Lose a Lot of Weight!

I’m a big fan of The South Beach Diet. It helped me lose a lot of weight when nothing else worked. I felt comfortable losing the weight and looked great when I was done, rather than like a survivor of starvation. Whenever I gained a bit of weight since then, returning to Phase 1 quickly took it off.

Donald Mitchell  
I Have a Whole New Way of Eating!

In less than two weeks, I was totally rid of my cravings for the ooey and the gooey. The weight has been coming off and staying off and I have a whole new way of eating (it’s not really a diet any more) for the rest of my life!!. I look great, I feel wonderful and the added bonus is that my arthritis has nearly disappeared!!! Changing one’s diet does more than just take off pounds!!

L. T. Ferris  
I Love It!

All my life I had zero interest in any diet. I guess I was lucky. I’ve always been slim although not skinny and fine with it. But nothing last forever. Last winter I gained 5 lb and they stubbornly stayed with me. I still had no interest in diets that I heard about and just hoped that somehow my extra pounds vanish. They didn’t and then I discovered the South Beach Diet- I love it.

I love the diet because it’s more like sensible eating guide rather than constant deprivation. I love all the little things that I learned about my eating habits. I thought they were great and in general they are but it was good to find out why starting your day with just fruit maybe not the best way to do it. The whole program is so sustainable. It’s for life. Thank you Dr. Agatston

This Diet has Completely Changed My Life!

I am a 43-year-old wife and mother of two. I started the South Beach diet 2/3/10 today is 4/13/10, and I have lost 30 lbs. I just came from the Doctors office; this was the determining appointment, whether or not I would be put on diabetic and cholesterol meds. My Doctor reviewed the results several times, and my cholesterol is perfect! And the good Cholesterol has jumped up 25 pts in 2 months. My A1c has literally showed signs of reversing the effects of diabetes, and she stated she had never seen changes like this in a short period of time. This diet has completely changed my life, in every sense.

The white witch “criminal mind investagator”  
Michael Donelly

About Michael Donelly

Michael Donelly is Gnet's founder and occasionally posts information. If you'd like to get in touch about anything business related you can contact him on Twitter: @MichaelDonelly2. And if you like what you read here then why not sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates on your interests?