The south beach diet was firstly outlined in the bestseller “the south beach diet: the delicious, doctor-designed, foolproof plan for fast and healthy weight loss”. It was created by Arthur Agatston, m.d. in the year 2003. This diet is sometimes said to be a modified low-carbohydrate diet. The major aim of this diet is its lower-carb consumption and relatively higher consumption of nutrients such as proteins and healthy fats. But the diet does not pertain to the individual strictly stay on low carb intake. The lower carb intake consists of lean meats, unsaturated fats, and low-glycemic-index carbs. This diet has been credited with producing rapid weight loss results without feelings of hunger, all while promoting heart health.
The south beach diet which has been popular for over a decade now is divided into 3 phases. Following are the phases:
This phase lasts up to 2 weeks. It has been designed to eliminate cravings for foods that are high in sugar and refined starches in order to decrease insulin and blood sugar levels. Foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, fruit, rice are completely eliminated in this phase. The focus is set on the intake of lean compounds such as skinless poultry, soy foods, seafood, lean beef, tofu, chicken, eggs. Consumption of high-fiber vegetables and low-fat dairy with healthy unsaturated fats including avocados, seeds, and nuts can be done. Most people expect a weight loss of 8-13 pounds approximately.
This period starts on the 15th day. The individual now has to start adding back foods that were eliminated in phase i such as whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice, vegetables, and fruits. Certain types of alcohol are allowed in this phase. The maintenance of this phase lasts till the person achieves his/her goal. A loss of 1-2 pounds per week can be expected here.
This phase is purely based on consistency and maintenance of eating healthy for life. The principles of previous phases are to be followed religiously to bring about a persistent change in one’s lifestyle. All types of food are now allowed but in moderate quantities.
Sample menu of the south beach diet- phase i
- Breakfast: omelet with smoked salmon/ baked eggs with spinach and ham, along with a cup of tea or coffee.
- Lunch: vegetable salad with shrimp or scallops along with iced tea/ sparkling water.
- Dinner: grilled tuna/ pork with grilled vegetables and a salad.
- Dessert: ricotta cheesecake or chilled espresso custard.
- Snacks: muenster cheese/ turkey roll-up/ roasted chickpeas.
Sample menu of the south beach diet- phase ii
- Breakfast: peanut butter oatmeal.
- Snack: 1 cup cucumber slices with ¼ cup hummus.
- Lunch: apple-walnut chicken salad.
- Snacks: cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes.
- Dinner: pork fajitas with 1/3 cup guacamole.
- Dessert: chocolate meringue kisses.
The purpose of the south beach diet is to change the overall balance of foods to encourage weight loss. It focuses on a healthy diet whether or not the individual wishes to lose weight. Some of the reasons as to why you should follow this diet are:
- Wanting to stick by a diet for the rest of your life.
- To enjoy different types of food in moderation.
- Wanting to experience a diet that restricts carbs and saturated fats.
- Wanting to change your overall eating habits.
Benefits of the south beach diet
- 24 studies have suggested the effectiveness of this low-carb, high protein diet for weight loss.
- The intake of protein increases the metabolism of the individual. Protein also helps in regulating hormone levels that promote feelings of fullness and lesser hunger pangs. Thus, one naturally ends up eating less which leads to a calorie deficit.
- This is an easy-to-follow diet as smaller quantities of healthy carbs are added back as we proceed down to further stages. This makes it easy to stick to the diet for a longer period.
- The diet helps in avoiding diabetes.
- A 12-week study on overweight and obese people who followed the south beach diet showed a significant difference in weight loss by the end of the program by a difference of 5.2kgs and 2 inches by the waist. Decreased levels of insulin and an increased feeling of fullness were also recorded.
- This diet encourages a higher intake of fatty fishes such as salmon and other nutrients that help in fighting inflammation.
- The diet prevents hypertension.
- This diet helps protect heart health.
- Lastly, the available book makes the planning smooth and easy as it consists of sample menus and recipes for each phase. Hundreds of recipes are easily available on the internet as well.
Drawbacks of the south beach diet
- The diet is overly restrictive with the number of portions and types of fats allowed.
- Substances high in omega-6 fatty acids are said to be consumed such as soyabean oil and safflower oil which are extremely harmful.
- A higher ratio of consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 can lead to heart problems and inflammation.
- Butter and coconut oil which are very commonly used are eliminated from the diet as they are highly saturated compounds.
- Researches have found no relation between saturated fat intake and increased risk of heart disease.
- Restricting too many carbohydrates can lead to ketosis.