by Emily McBride
(last updated November 30, 2009)
The South Beach Diet is a recent, very popular, and very publicized diet that has been around since the early 2000's. The diet was created by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist, and Marie Almon, a dietician. Dr. Agatston originally came up with the diet to help his patients with heart disease, but it is now marketed as a weight-loss plan. The diet claims that you will be able to lose 8–13 pounds in the first two weeks, although results often vary.
Dr. Agatston found that when patients were put on a low-fat diet, they ended up being hungry and compensating those calories with other calories, and even sometimes gaining weight as a result. Many people mistakenly think that the South Beach Diet is a low-carb diet, when that is actually not the case. The South Beach Diet is a diet that is not about eliminating fats or carbohydrates—it's about replacing bad fats with good fats, and bad carbs with good carbs. The diet does not include any saturated fats or trans-fats; instead, it focuses on unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods on the diet that contain fat are lean meats, nuts, and fish. Likewise, the diet eliminates heavily-refined sugars and grains. The "good carbs" are vegetables, beans, whole grains, and other unprocessed carbohydrates.
There are three phases of the South Beach Diet plan. Phase One lasts fourteen days and is the strictest of the three phases; however, it is also the phase where weight is lost the fastest. For the first two weeks, the dieter is restricted to eating normal quantities of lean meats, vegetables, nuts, cheese, and eggs. It is recommended to eat three balanced meals a day in order to avoid being hungry. Phase Two lasts as long as the dieter is wanting to lose weight, with an expected weight loss of 1–2 pounds a week. In this phase, some of the previously restricted foods are reintroduced. These include carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and other starches, as well as fruit, red wine, barley, low-fat milk and dairy, and pinto beans. Some starches should be limited but are still allowable, such as potatoes, beets, carrots, bananas, honey, and pineapple. Phase Three is supposed to be a life-long phase that will help you maintain your weight. It includes even more food, but if you gain weight, you are supposed to go back on Phase Two.
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