South Beach Diet Revealed
The South Beach Diet - What's it All About?
The South Beach Diet is a multi-phase diet that came to popularity in the late nineties. Designed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietitian Marie Almon, it was originally created to help prevent heart disease. But it worked so well for weight loss, it was adopted by dieters everywhere.
Arthur Agatston found that the typical low fat diet that heart patients were following could be hard to stick to. In place of the fat, patients often ended up eating more sugar.
Excess sugar consumption led to excess insulin (the hormone which controls fat storage and blood sugar) which led to low blood sugar which led to hunger pangs which led to the consumption of more sugar. It was a cycle that made the traditional low fat diet hard to stick to.
On the other hand another form of low carb diet - Atkins - was seen as too hard to stick to.
Although South Beach has been called a kinder, gentler version of Atkins, it's really not about low carb, or low fat - it's about 'right carb' and 'right fat' according to Agatston.
The South Beach diet focuses on eating the 'right' healthy carbs, such as whole grains and certain fruits and vegetables; the right fats like olive and canola oil; and lean sources of protein.
How The Diet Works:
There are 3 phases to the diet:
Phase 1 lasts for 2 weeks and kick-starts your weight loss. In this phase, you cut out fruits, sugars and grains. The focus is on lean meat, fish, eggs, reduced-fat cheese, nonfat yogurt, nuts, and plenty of vegetables. You eat 3 meals a day along with snacks to keep your metabolism high.
Phase 2 reintroduces 'good' carbs, such as whole grains and most fruits. Some indulgences are allowed so you don't feel deprived. You should continue to lose weight on Phase 2 until you reach your goal.
Phase 3 is more of a maintenance phase once you've reached your goal. You'll still make good eating choices but it's less strict than the previous 2 phases.
There are several reasons for weight loss. First is that the first phase of this diet is very low carb. The lower carbs and reduced insulin helps your body to release stored fat.
Plus you're eating several times throughout the day. This helps to keep your metabolism high.
How Does It Rate?
Is It Fast?
The first phase of the diet can give you pretty fast weight loss - from 2 - 4 pounds a week depending on your activity level and weight. However weight loss does start to slow once you go on the second and third phases of the diet.
Is It Easy To Follow?
The first phase can be tough and you may be fighting some food or carb cravings. The other phases are easier.
You do have to prepare special food and recipes yourself, which can be a bit challenging.
Is It Safe?
Yes. While the first phase is limited, the other phases are more balanced with a good balance of protein and carbs, fruits and vegetables. Plus the calorie count is reasonable for weight loss.
This diet is also good for type 2 diabetics as it can help to control blood sugar swings.
Does It Permit 'Treats'?
Yes. Especially the later phases do allow you to eat occasional treats - although they tend to be lower carb in nature.
Is There Support?
Yes. You can find a great support program from the official online South Beach Diet program. You'll get a complete personalized diet plan, South Beach recipes and food guides, online weight trackers, journals, talk to dietitians and get access to other South Beach dieters online.
This is a great way to help you stick to the diet and know what to eat - as sometimes the recipes and diet plan can be a bit complex.
Final Grade: B+
The South Beach diet is a balanced, healthy approach to weight loss that emphasizes the 'right' healthy carbs, such as whole grains and certain fruits and vegetables; the right fats like olive and canola oil; and lean sources of protein.
It can be good for those with blood sugar issues and diabetics - as well as those who don't do well on stricter carb diets like Atkins.
It is a bit labor-intensive and does require special recipes and a bit of preparation. However there is some great tools and online support to help you follow the diet.
Where To Find More Information:
You can get started on the diet right away (or just get more information) at the official South Beach website.
You can also sign up to get a free personalized plan, online weight loss trackers, recipes, email support and access to an online community to help you stick with the diet.
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