The South Beach Diet Plan

The South Beach Diet was developed in Miami, Florida, by a cardiologist named Dr Arthur Agatston and introduced to the general public in his best selling book, The South Beach Diet.

Using the Glycemic Index (GI) as a reference point, the South Beach Diet proposes that eating too many high GI carbohydrates causes a breakdown in the ability of the pancreas to process fats and sugars efficiently, leading to weight gain and a host of other health problems. In addition, excessive consumption of trans fats and saturated fats contribute to cardiovascular disease.

The diet discourages the consumption of these two potentially damaging foodstuffs, replacing them with low GI carbs and mono or polyunsaturated fats.

Like many other diets, the South Beach Diet is divided into phases.

The South Beach Diet Plan Phase I:

Phase I lasts two weeks and begins with removing all high or moderately high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as sugar, candy, ice cream, alcohol, fruit, rice, pastas, potatoes, bread, cereals and grains. As the body begin to burn excess body fat, dieters commonly lose anywhere from eight to 10 pounds in the first 14 days.

Foods on the allowed list include proteins plus vegetables. Meat is broiled or baked rather than fried or coated with breading. Vegetables are steamed and eaten plain, with no sauce or butter. Sugar-free treats are limited to 75 calories per day. Dieters consume three regular-sized meals a day, plus snacks, which serve to curb hunger, change body chemistry and reduce cravings.

Here is a list of allowed foods in Phase I:
  1. Beef: Lean cuts, such as sirloin, tenderloin and top round

  2. Poultry (skinless): Chicken breast, Cornish hen, turkey and bacon (two slices per day)

  3. Veal: Chop, cutlet, leg, top round

  4. Lunch meat: Fat-free or low-fat only

  5. Seafood: All types of fish and shellfish

  6. Cheese (fat-free or low fat): American, cheddar, cottage cheese (1–2% or fat-free), cream cheese substitute (dairy free), feta, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, ricotta, string

  7. Nuts: Almonds (15), peanut butter (2 tbs), peanuts (20 small), pecan halves (15), pistachios (30)

  8. Eggs: Unrestricted unless otherwise noted by your physician. Use egg whites and egg substitute as desired

  9. Tofu: Soft, low-fat or lite varieties

  10. Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beans (black, butter, chickpeas, green, Italian, kidney, lentils, lima, pigeon, soy, split peas, wax), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce (all varieties), mushrooms (all varieties), snow peas, spinach, sprouts (alfalfa), turnips, water chestnuts, zucchini

  11. Fats: Canola oil, olive oil

  12. Spices and Seasonings: All spices that contain no added sugar, broth, extracts (almond, vanilla), horseradish sauce, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray, pepper (black, cayenne, red, white)

  13. Sweet Treats (limit to 75 calories per day): Candies (hard, sugar-free), chocolate powder (no-sugar-added), cocoa powder (baking type), sugar-free fudgsicles, sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free gum, sugar-free popsicles, sugar substitute

The South Beach Diet Plan Phase II:

Phase II begins in Week 3. Small amounts of low GI whole grain foods, fruits and dairy products are gradually reintroduced into the diet. Dieters add sweet potatoes, wild or brown rice, whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits, and red or white wines. They continue to avoid such vegetables as carrots, beets, white potatoes and corn because of their high sugar content, and also high GI fruits like bananas, pineapples, raisins and watermelon.

Other foods to avoid are cookies, cakes, sweet rolls and ice cream. These are kept to a bare minimum or eliminated completely.

Dieters stay on Phase II until they reach their goal weight. Only then do they move onto Phase III.

The South Beach Diet Plan - Phase III:

The diet now expands to include three servings of whole grains and three servings of fruit a day. Again, dieters pay attention to the GI when choosing foods. They include fiber or fat in each meal to slow digestion of the carbohydrates.

The diet aims for a permanent change in a person's eating habits, offering a variety of wholesome foods to choose from and an easy program to follow. The emphasis is on eating whole grains and large amounts of vegetables, adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and a minimum of refined, processed, high-fat meats and saturated fats. There is no calorie counting or limiting servings.

The South Beach Diet Plan is very simple to put into practice and offers a healthier alternative to many extreme weight loss diets. Dr Agatston has written a number of follow-up books to The South Beach Diet, including several cookbooks:

It's important that you consult with a qualified health professional before embarking on any new dietary or exercise regimen.

Gathering information online is fine for research purposes, but you need a real live professional to monitor your progress if you attempt to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. Unless you're a health professional yourself, you aren't equipped to objectively observe your body's responses to a new diet or exercise program. So whatever your chosen course of action, please be sure you enlist the support of a qualified professional.

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