South Beach Diet Review
The South Beach Diet plan is a weight loss diet that begins with fast weight loss and ends with the “everything in moderation” mindset of healthy eating. On the diet, you go through three separate phases: one designed to help you burn fat and lose weight quickly, the next to help you continue to lose weight while introducing a variety of foods into your meals and snacks, and the last to empower you to continue to make healthy eating choices on your own for the benefit of your life long health.
The diet, developed by Dr. Arthur Agatson, was developed as an alternative to every fad diet that encouraged quick weight loss but left people feeling hungry and lethargic. Eating less, or less often, is not always the answer. Instead, the diet promotes the consumption of “good” carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein as a means of obtaining macronutrient balance while helping you kick your junk food cravings and learn to “crave” better food.
The South Beach Diet isn’t a simple booklet of instructions that expects you to go off on your own and try a completely new way of eating all on your own. Like many other modern diets, South Beach incorporates meal delivery into their system to help teach you to choose healthy foods that you enjoy. You still have to do some of the work, though – not every single meal is made on your behalf.
South Beach Diet Plan Basics and Rules
The South Beach Diet occurs in three stages each designed to promote weight loss and maintenance.
Phase 1, the first phase of the South Beach diet, makes up the first two weeks of the diet plan. Fast weight loss is the main goal of this stage. This phase aims to “reset” your body so that you lose weight faster. Five days per week, meals and snacks are delivered to you to help make your transition into healthy eating run smoother. However, two days a week, you are meant to “practice” healthy eating without the help of pre-made meals being delivered straight to your door.
Several things other than weight loss are expected to occur during this phase. First, following this phase of the diet should help reduce your cravings for foods that are high in sugar and refined starches. Second, eating this way you are also expected to burn fat as you lose weight without losing lean muscle mass, which is often a common damaging effect of fast weight loss.
Phase 2, the second phase of the South Beach diet, is designed to help you continue to lose weight at a steady rate without hitting that pesky plateau. More foods are introduced into this phase, including more meal options you can choose to add to your menu items delivered to your home as well as a wider variety of recipes and dining out food suggestions.
This phase also introduces another important component of the diet into the mix: fitness. Each subscriber moving into the second phase of the diet has access to fitness tips to help you balance out your calorie intake and continue to lose weight while eating a wider variety of foods.
Phase 3, the third and final phase of the South Beach diet, is your maintenance phase. You are encouraged to eat a variety of heart healthy foods without feeling too hungry or depriving yourself of valuable nutrition for the sake of weight loss. At this point, you should ideally have reached your weight goal. This is when you apply the habits and other things you learned during your weekly practice days to healthy eating for the rest of your life.
Each phase of the diet is based on several principles to explain why the methods involved in each are effective for both fast and steady weight loss. Based on South Beach’s principles, there is a cycle that occurs when a person eats refined carbs. First, their blood sugar spikes. Insulin production increases in response, which increases the amount of fat stored in the body. Once a person’s blood sugar drops, they crave more foods high in refined sugars, which prompts them to eat more refined carbs – and the cycle continues.
Following the South Beach diet, however, eating fewer carbs and more lean protein and healthy fats leads to fewer spikes in blood sugar. Insulin production remains steady as a result, which allows the body to use fat for fuel instead of actively storing it in large amounts. Since the body now uses fat as a source of fuel, it no longer needs sugar as a quick source of fuel. Therefore, cravings for sugar can almost become non-existent.
Once you fully understand the basis of these principles, it becomes clear why eating fewer refined sugars and more good carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein just makes sense. Eating more sugar is what prompts you to eat more sugar. If you can break that cycle, weight loss becomes a much more likely scenario for you.
Following is a sample meal plan that aims to demonstrate what a day following the basic principles of the South Beach diet can look like once you move through the first two phases and learn healthier eating habits.
Menu and Meal Planning
It’s much easier to follow the South Beach Diet when you have a menu picked out and meals constantly delivered to you five days per week. However, those two weekly practice days during the first two phases of the diet are put in place for a reason. Eventually, the idea is to use all you have learned while following these specific plans to follow a healthy eating lifestyle and maintain your weight loss without the help of delivered pre prepared meals.
This is a sample meal plan for the final phase of the South Beach Diet. During this phase, you are instructed to eat healthy, but “enjoy all foods in moderation.”
- Egg white omelet with feta cheese, red and green peppers and spinach
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 slices whole grain toast with avocado spread
- Black bean bowl with grilled chicken and sour cream
- Tortilla chips with homemade guacamole sauce
- Shrimp made with teriyaki sauce over brown rice
- Homemade orange chicken
- Grilled vegetables
- Fresh fruit slices with nut butter
- Crackers with tuna
- Baked vegetable chips
- Homemade nut bars
- Fruit and spinach shakes
Grocery Shopping List
- Greek yogurt
- fresh cheese
- citrus fruits
- Sweet potatoes
- squash and members of the squash family
- whole grain breads
- lean meats
- fish and seafood
- nuts and seeds
Does the South Beach Diet Work?
Is it possible that a sensible approach to nutrition can be effective? Yes! Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet that keeps your calorie consumption at a moderate level is just what your body has been looking for. Don’t believe us? Check out these amazing stories!
Weight Loss Before and Afters
“I have struggled with weight since I hit puberty. I started my first diet in 8th grade. I was what you would call a yo-yo dieter. My doctor suggested the South Beach Diet and I haven’t looked back since.
I originally started the South Beach Diet on 6/2/14. I lost 78 lbs in 7 months! I stopped trying to lose weight when I found out that my husband and I were expecting a child. I gained about 60 lbs during pregnancy and put on another 21 lbs from 9/15/15 to 1/2/17.
I was mentally prepared to start my journey over on 1/2/17 and I have lost 40 lbs since!
One of the biggest benefits I’ve discovered while on this diet is that my immune system is stronger. Everyone in my office caught the flu about a month ago. I was the only who did not have a single issue.
The South Beach Diet is structured to teach you a Lifestyle Style change. I’m able to eat a lot of the things I used to by swapping out the unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones. If I want a pizza I can still have one but with whole wheat crust, homemade tomato sauce, lean proteins, etc…
The hardest part about the diet is the first month or so. Learning what you can and can’t have, detoxing your body, and just finding a new norm.
What I love the most about The South Beach Diet is that there’s no grey area. They provide you a list of what you can and can’t have, how much of something you can have, and tips for when you falter or plateau.”
“I started South Beach diet on April 11, 2013. So I’m a little over 4 years into it.
When I started South Beach diet (this is the diet before the buyout to Nutrisystem) I weighed 237 pounds. I was in a size 24-26 paints. It took me a little longer than 8 months to lose 99 pounds. I was never able to get that one more pound, lol.
Before starting South Beach, I was pre-diabetic, I had been on one high blood pressure medication and was going to start yet another one, I had severe IBS, I was on depression and anxiety medication and I was seeing a cardiologist regularly. After 3 months on South Beach, I was off all medications and was no longer anywhere near being diabetic.
The easiest part of the diet is that all foods can be purchased right at your local super market. Nothing to join and no fees to be in any groups. I’ve never had a problem finding meals to enjoy while in restaurants. I’ve never felt deprived while practicing South Beach. I actually eat more now than I did when I was morbidly obese.
The hardest part of South Beach is maintaining my weight loss. I go to the gym regularly, walk, run, lift weights and strength train.
I attribute my success in South Beach diet to doing very strict phase 1. I never allowed myself any cheats during phase 1 because I figured that cheating was what got me morbidly obese. I lost 12.5 pounds in 2 weeks of phase 1.”
“I’ve been on The South Beach Diet since January 5, 2015.
Sadly, I didn’t measure inches but I’ve lost 71 pounds. I went from a 22/24W to an 18 (sooooo close to a 16!).
I’ve never had high cholesterol or blood pressure and actually have a chronic illness. I had gained 60 pounds after two years of high doses of prednisone to try to treat it. Alas, still going through health issues that makes exercise (and taking these last 25 off) hard.
Hardest part of SBD is the first two days. Mentally, not being able to eat fruit was a lot to get over. And quitting sugar is as hard as quitting smoking was for me (I quit in 2002). But once I flushed a bit, all evened out and I didn’t kill too many people in the process
The easiest is how lenient it is. It’s a true lifestyle change. I don’t say, ‘I am never going to be able to eat a while potato again!’ If I want a regular French fry, I eat it. And get back on the horse the next day!
I recommend reading the book before starting and joining a supportive online community. It also helps that my wife eats anything I cook pretty much and came along for the ride.”
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