South Beach Diet
Plan's name: The
South Beach Diet
South Beach Diet : The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and
Healthy Weight Loss, 2003 by Arthur Agatston, MD, 310 pages, hardcover
About the author:
Dr. Arthur Agatston is an MD with a practice in the South Beach
area of Miami, hence the name. He is also Associate Professor of Internal
Medicine at University of Miami, and has published >100 scientific medical
The diet has evolved since the writing of the book, especially regarding dairy
and some common vegetables such as carrots. Even before the diet changes, the
major part of the book and the recipes contradicted each other at times – the
recipes seem to be written by someone more familiar with the low fat
traditional diet (e.g.: eggs are ok according to the book, but egg substitute
is recommended for recipes).
The small guide is useful for later stages, to determine which fruits and
vegetables are not recommended, but does not distinguish between phases 1 and
2 and can’t be used without either the book or an online description of the
major ideas of the plan. Just eating unlimited amounts of “good” foods from
the guide will not work.
Eating good carbs and good fats spread over 6
meals/snacks a day will balance blood levels of glucose, insulin, cholesterol
and other coronary heart disease (CHD) markers. While the author claims that
the diet is neither low carb nor low fat, it really is generally a high
protein, high fiber, low carb and low animal fat diet.
This diet was initially developed to help prediabetic
and/or heart disease patients with high levels of (bad) cholesterol and
triglycerides as well as glucose levels. Weight loss was a side effect that
prompted the writing up of the prescribed diet into the book. Thus, the main
thrust of this plan is to keep glucose and insulin levels even, and to lower
(bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Weight loss should follow automatically.
This is achieved by completely avoiding refined
carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed and high on the glycemic index, and by
avoiding man-made trans fatty acids as well as saturated animal fats. No
references cited for the exclusion of saturated fats.
Eating eggs, fish, seafood, chicken or turkey breast,
lean ham, nearly all vegetables and drinking lots of water is encouraged, as
well as moderate amounts of nearly all fruits, nuts, other low fat meats,
whole grain bread, pasta and rice, olive or canola oil and a glass of red wine
a day. Not allowed are any products containing sugar, fruit juices, potatoes,
refined grains (bread, pasta, white rice), regular diary, fatter cuts of beef,
poultry and pork, butter, and beer.
By the numbers: : Eat 3 meals and
3 snacks a day. Never go hungry. No counting of calories, fats or
carbohydrates (restricted in Phase 1). Eat of the allowed until you feel full
but not stuffed.
1 is the strictest and is suggested for the first 2 weeks. It is also
suggested to return to phase 1 after cheats. In phase 1, no fruit, alcohol or
whole grain carbohydrate is allowed – only fish, eggs, lean meats, limited low
fat diary and leafy vegetables are eaten – though no carbohydrates are
In phase 2, fruit, nuts, whole grain products, red wine if
desired are added gradually. It is recommended to add one such product at a
time and to see what happens before adding more.
Phase 3 or maintenance
has no forbidden foods – it is expected that one follows the principles that
were learned in the plan for life in general, but exceptions are allowed.
Typical menu: About
a third of the book are menus and recipes.
- Breakfast small glass vegetable juice, a vegetable quiche (based on
eggs, spinach, onion, other vegetables and low fat cheese).
- Midmorning snack: celery with low fat cheese
- Lunch Large vegetable salad with shrimps or chicken breast
- Snack low fat string cheese, nuts
- Dinner Salmon with asparagus
- Dessert/evening snack: low fat ricotta dessert with artificial sweetener
Because of the hybrid nature between traditional low fat diets and Atkins,
South Beach is more acceptable for traditional nutritioonists and medical
professionals. Without counting calories, fat, or carbs, it may seem generous
and somewhat subjective: in phase 2, one is instructed to gradually add new
items and watch what happens. Because of the stress on glucose, timing can be
important, e.g. fruit is allowed in the evening but not morning. Cheating is
somewhat expected. For example, while potatoes are not allowed, there is a
discussion which preparation of potatoes is worst and which the least
Summarized by: Monika4