South Beach Diet – U.S. Most Popular Diet

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The South Beach Diet Review

For over 20 years, the South Beach Diet has been one of the most popular weight loss diets in the United States. Focusing on eating healthy carbs and fats, the South Beach Diet is meant to help you lose weight AND lower your risk of heart disease.

Marie Almon, a registered dietician, and cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston, are credited with developing the South Beach Diet. Although it was originally developed for heart disease patients, the diet quickly gained popularity among the general public as an effective weight loss diet.

South Beach Diet Overview

The diet plan is laid out in three phases, and the initial two weeks of the plan normally leads to weight loss of anywhere from 8 to 13 pounds. You don’t have to count calories or pay attention to the grams of carbs or fats either.

South Beach Diet Phases

How to Get Started – Phase One

It’s true that the initial phase is more restrictive in the amount of foods you can eat, although there are still many foods to choose from like the following:

— Lean meats and fish, including salmon, shellfish, chicken, turkey
— Low carb vegetables and salads
— Eggs, soy products, legumes
— Low fat dairy products (max of 2 cups a day)
— Healthy fats from olive oil or nuts (up to two tablespoons daily)

Keep in mind this is only during the initial phase. Foods you cannot eat include:

— Fruit Or Fruit Juice
— Whole Grains, Including Crackers, Rise, Or Bread
— Sugar, Or Any Food With Added Sugar
— Starchy Vegetables Like Potatoes As Well As Pasta
— Alcoholic Beverages

The initial phase lasts two weeks and it is meant to jumpstart your weight loss by causing ketosis. This is because your body does not have the carbohydrates it needs to produce energy for your body, so it instead starts burning fat.

Phase Two

Once week three begins, you can move onto phase two. You’ll want to continue eating lean meats, low carb vegetables, and all the other foods on the approved list.

However, you can also start introducing whole grains and a serving of fruit a day. A glass of red or white wine is also allowed, albeit in limited amounts. Snacks are encouraged and even required in phase one, but they are optional in phase two.

You’ll want to gradually introduce carbs into your diet, but you should check the scale to make sure you don’t stop losing weight. If you do, lower your carb intake once more. You may need to experience how certain foods affect your weight.

Once you’ve lost as much weight as you intended on losing, you have completed the second phase and can move onto the third and final phase, which is a guideline for the rest of your life if you choose.

Phase Three – Maintenance

The maintenance phase is actually very easy to follow and Dr. Agatston offers a few pieces of advice to help you maintain your weight for the rest of your life:

— Don’t think of a particular food as off-limits, just use good judgment and portion control
— Eat only up to 3 servings of fruit daily
— Eat up to 4 servings of starchy foods, but focus on vegetables
— Make sure your fat sources come from high quality sources

Dr. Agatston also claims you’ll lose weight regardless of whether you exercise or not, but he does recommend including moderate cardiovascular exercise as part of your health plan given it’s benefits.

Health Benefits

In one randomized study from 2004, participants following the South Beach diet were compared to participants following a standard low-fat diet. The South Beach group dropped twice the amount of weight as the control group over a 12-week period – on average. During a second similar study conducted the following year, similar results were found, and the South Beach group saw a significant decrease in cholesterol as well.

Lower carbohydrate plans, like the South Beach diet and the Atkins diet have been studied extensively, and both diets are proven to burn off abdominal fat. Other positive effects on insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels have been observed as well.

The USDA does recommend consuming an adequate amount of fiber while on the South Beach diet since it requires a large amount of protein consumption. 38 grams of fiber per day is the USDA’s recommendation for men, as well as 25 for women.

Final Thoughts

The South Beach diet is essentially your typical high protein low carb diet. It is however one of the oldest diets still around today, and it is proven to provide moderate long-term results when used correctly.

Therefore, the South Beach diet may be a diet to consider if you’re someone who has no problem eliminating grains and sugar from your diet.

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