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Continuing the series on comparing the most popular diets today I’m looking at the South Beach diet. Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of the South Beach diet is a Miami cardiologist, who created a plan for his heart and diabetes patients who needed to improve their lab tests. The South Beach diet became popularized because a local TV station asked him to share it with the local community.
South Beach is considered a “low carb” diet that focuses on eating healthy food to help you lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight, for the rest of your life. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy and good fats are the keys foods for this plan.
The plan is divided into three phases.
The first phase is designed to stabilize blood sugar levels by eliminating processed foods and excess sugars from the diet. In this way the plan is similar to Atkins, except that it focuses on more healthy proteins and a few healthy carbohydrates. During this phase patients are restricted to a list of foods, and sugar cravings are eliminated during this phase.
The second phase is the long-term weight loss phase where patients are given more options than phase one, however there is still a listing of food that patients must stay consistent with. The third phase is the maintenance phase that people continue to eat for the rest of their lifetime.
The main benefit of this plan is that it focuses on healthy whole foods as a way of life. It talks about the good practices for healthy eating for a lifetime, reducing sugar craving, and educating people about unhealthy foods and unhealthy fats in the diet.
He recommends exercise as part of the second and third phases of the diet plan. Some of the criticisms are that the South Beach plan makes some very liberal claims about its ability to create weight loss and eliminate hunger and food cravings in the first phase. There are claims that portion sizes are not measured during this plan, however the recipes and serving sizes are subtly planned in the book or frozen portions.