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South Beach Diet

South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet

By Valerie Mellema

Created by Miami, Florida cardiologist Arthur Agatston, the South Beach Diet took the US by storm shortly after the Atkins' Diet took off. The South Beach Diet emphasizes the consumption of "good carbohydrates" and "good fats" instead of knock the two out of a person's diet all together.

Dr. Agatston believes that eating too much of these so-called "bad carbohydrates" causes them to be rapidly absorbed and creates insulin resistance syndrome. Those carbohydrates that are considered to be "bad" are those that have a high Glycemic index. The Glycemic index is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on the effect they have on blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance is the body's inability to properly process fat or sugar and thus causes weight gain. The "bad fats" include saturated and trans fats, which are known to contribute to cardiovascular disease.

To prevent these two conditions, particularly in cardiac patients, the South Beach Diet is designed to minimize the consumption of bad carbs and bad fats and at the same time encourages people to eat good fats and good carbohydrates.

The South Beach Diet has three phases. In each phase, it is recommended to minimize eating foods containing the bad fats.

South Beach Diet Phase I

This phase lasts two weeks and dieters attempt to eliminate insulin resistance through their diet. They must avoid foods such as:

  • Sugar
  • Candy
  • Dairy
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Cereals
  • Grains
  • Fruit

    During this phase, Dr. Agatston says the body eliminates its insulin resistance and the person will begin to lose excess body fat. Many dieters lose between 8 and 13 pounds. Dieters are able to eat normal helpings of fish, meat, vegetables, eggs, cheese and nuts. They should eat three meals a day with snacks and eat until their hunger is satisfied. However, no alcohol is to be consumed. The person should lose their craving for sugars and starches as well.

    South Beach Diet Phase II

    After two weeks, phase II sets in. The dieter can begin to slowly return whole grains, fruits and dairy back into their diet but they should eat smaller amounts of these foods and focus on those with a low Glycemic index. Sweet potatoes and red wine are allowed in the diet.

    South Beach Diet Phase III

    Once a person reaches their weight loss goal then the diet moves into phase III or the "maintenance phase." During this phase, the diet expands to include three servings of whole grains and fruit each day. The diet also distinguishes which foods are good and bad carbs and which are good and bad fats.

    Changes in Eating Habits

    The South Beach Diet emphasizes a change in a person's eating habits. It also encourages them to eat a variety of different foods and it is designed to be implemented easily. Eating whole grains and large amounts of vegetables is encouraged. Dieters should also consume healthy amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in seafood.