The South Beach Diet
Thinking about shedding a few extra pounds? If so, than you may be considering taking on one of the many diet plans available to North American consumers nowadays. The South Beach diet is just one of countless new diet crazes to hit the continent and is extremely popular amongst numerous celebrity figures. It is purported to be one of the easier diets to follow because it involves no troublesome counting of calories and fat grams, and allows you to eat until you are satisfied. But does this diet really work? And is it safe and healthy for you to follow? Here are some of the inside secrets on the South Beach diet.
What is the South Beach Diet?
Recently, the South Beach diet has been taken up by thousands of diet-conscious consumers throughout North America. Created by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a Florida-based cardiologist, the South Beach diet was originally designed to help patients diagnosed with severe heart conditions manage their illnesses. However, because of its weight-loss side effects, the diet has now been taken up by men and women who want to lose weight quickly and healthily. The diet is based on eating a combination of "good" carbohydrates and fats, while restricting those carbohydrates that are "bad" for you. It also focuses on consuming high quantities of lean proteins and vegetables, while eliminating added sugars and caffeinated products.
Good Carbohydrates vs Bad Carbohydrates
The main element of the South Beach diet is the consumption of "good" carbohydrates. What exactly is a "good" carbohydrate? Well, according to Dr. Agatston, good carbohydrates are those that prevent the storage of fat in the body. These carbohydrates are determined according to the glycemic index. The glycemic index is an index that ranks carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100. This glycemic index number corresponds to the way in which carbohydrates raise your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index only raise your blood sugar levels slightly, thus falling into the "good" category. Those that have a high glycemic index raise your blood sugar levels greatly, and are therefore labeled as "bad". The South Beach diet focuses on restricting these bad carbohydrates, while allowing you to enjoy good carbohydrates.
What Can You Eat on the South Beach Diet?
Besides being able to indulge in all of these good carbohydrates, the South Beach diet also allows you to fully enjoy a wide array of lean meats, including:
- lean cuts of red meat
- poultry, including chicken and turkey breasts
- all types of fish and shellfish
- low-fat cheeses
When following the South Beach diet, you will eat three well-balanced meals everyday, along with two snacks and one dessert.
Doing the South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet is followed according to three phases:
- Phase 1: Phase 1 is the most restrictive period during the South Beach diet and lasts for two weeks. During this phase, you are asked to restrict all carbohydrates (good and bad), in order to allow your body to cleanse itself and prepare itself to make use of all those good carbohydrates. This means restricting all pastas, rice, cereals, breads, sugars, fruits, and fruit juices. You must also eliminate all alcohol. You are allowed to consume all types of lean meats, fish, cheeses, eggs, and nuts, and will also eat a large amount of low-glycemic index vegetables. You are encouraged to eat until you feel satisfied. Most dieters can expect to lose between 8 and 12 pounds during this phase of the South Beach Diet.
- Phase 2: During Phase 2, you are allowed to reinstate some of those banned carbohydrates and can begin to drink a glass of wine each day. You are encouraged to start eating carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index, including fruit, and whole grain cereals and pastas. You have complete control over which carbohydrates you choose to include, only keep in mind, the key is moderation. Most dieters continue to lose 1-2 pounds per week during Phase 2. You continue with Phase 2 until you reach your target weight.
- Phase 3: Phase 3 is designed to help you maintain your weight. During Phase 3, you can reintroduce some of the carbohydrates that have a higher glycemic index, although again, this should be in moderation. Phase 3 is meant to be a way of life, which means that you should continue this phase permanently.
Advantages of the South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet does offer dieters many advantages:
- It involves no calorie or fat gram counting.
- Meals are fairly balanced, particularly after Phase 1.
- It encourages you to eat three full meals a day, plus two snacks.
- It has been shown to lower your risks of heart disease and diabetes.
Disadvantages of the South Beach Diet
As with any diet, the South Beach Diet does have some obvious disadvantages:
- It can be extremely difficult for carb-lovers to follow.
- Meal planning can be time consuming, and all of those meats can be expensive.
- If you decide to give up the South Beach diet, it is possible that you will gain weight quickly.
- After completing Phase 1 and 2 of the diet, some people notice that they develop allergies to certain foods.
Criticisms of the South Beach Diet
The South Beach diet has not been accepted by everyone as an effective and healthy diet plan to follow. The American Diabetes Association reports that glycemic index has little to do with actual weight loss, but rather it is the amount of carbohydrates that you consume that affects weight. Other critics find fault with the high-protein aspects of the diet. Some dieters ingest too many fats, and can therefore actually increase their risk of heart attack and stroke.
If You Try the South Beach Diet
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you follow the South Beach diet plan:
- Visit your health care provider before beginning the South Beach diet (or any diet) to get the go ahead.
- Be sure to take nutritional supplements during Phase 1 and 2 of the diet.
- Stay well hydrated throughout the diet, by drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day.
- Find South Beach diet recipes that can help you to vary your meals.
- Visit your health care provider for regular checkups to make sure that your nutrition and weight are at healthy levels.