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The South Beach Diet - A Review of its Key Principles

By HERWriter
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Obesity related image Photo: Getty Images

Diet books have long lined the shelves of libraries and bookstores. With so many different plans there are a variety of choices for different likes and dislikes. But if an author has a diet book, chances are they also have a diet website. The demand for more health and fitness information and clicking your way to a healthier, slimmer you continues to grow as consumers seek to find answers to their weight loss challenges.

The South Beach Diet book, developed by Miami based Cardiologist, Dr. Arthur Agastan has been helping people overcome obesity since published in 2003. Agastan bases his plan on “Five Key Principles”. The plan focuses on allowing you to avoid calorie counting and measuring. Instead, it gives you permission to eat satisfying portions of “wholesome” food. Those food consist of lean proteins, fruits, veggies, healthy fats and low-fat dairy.

Agastan believes that flexibility is another key principle which keeps people satisfied. The plan allows you to substitute food as long as it is from the “Foods to Enjoy List” and not the “Foods to Avoid List.”

As a trainer and sports nutritionist, one of my favorite principles of the plan is that The South Beach Diet refers to itself as a lifestyle. The plan encourages exercise and physical activity. Besides weight loss as a main principle and benefit, the health benefits claim of The South Beach Diet include, “helping to lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes by reducing total and LDL cholesterol, and unhealthy triglycerides (another blood fat), and regulating blood-sugar levels.”

The South Beach Diet is broken down into three phases. For those who have more than 10 pounds of weight to lose, Agastan suggests starting at Phase 1 to “Eliminate Cravings and Kickstart Weight Loss.” I like this approach because it helps people get motivated and get significant results initially.

Often times a cycle of cravings is what keeps people from sticking to a plan, and if you can move away from refined starches and sugars, chances are you will have better results. The diet plan claims that this phase will help stabilize your blood sugar and is, “ideal for people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic.”

You also have the option to start with Phase 2 to help you “Lose Steadily”. This phase can be the starting point for those who simply want to lose 10 pounds, are not haunted by cravings, do not have fat around their midsection and just want to be healthier. For those who have completed Phase 1, this is the longest phase as they continually lose weight in a slow, steady, long-term fashion.

Phase 3 is the maintenance phase entitled, “Maintain for Life”. This allows you more flexibility and choice, as you’ve already adopted the principles into your lifestyle. It is inclusive of a variety of foods and allows you to indulge at times, knowing you’ll get right back on track.

When joining The South Beach Diet, you are asked your height, weight, gender, goal weight and some lifestyle questions. You are then guided to some support information and newsletters made available to you for the plan. You are given your BMI (Body Mass Index) which calculates your height and weight and reveals to you if you fall in a normal, underweight or overweight category. From there, you are guided to a section to get your own customized meal plan with the first seven days free. Then, it is $4 a week and is inclusive of support groups, recipes, meal planners, shopping lists, etc.

I like that the site has a section of numerous inspirational success stories of people who have sustained their weight loss and lifestyle. I also like the community aspect of support to keep you on track.


Reviewed Aug 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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