The South Beach Diet – Everything You Need To Know About The South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet

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Replace “bad carbs” and “bad fats” with “good carbs” and “good fats” to lose weight and improve heart health! This is the principle behind the South Beach Diet.


Arthur Agatston, a renowned cardiologist and dietician developed the South Beach Diet plan. The diet was designed as an alternative to low fat diet plans like Ornish and Pritikin Diet. According to the proponents of this diet, cutting down the carbohydrates and fats from the diet cannot help you lose weight quickly. It can only be done by choosing right carbohydrates and the right fats. Eating foods loaded with fiber and nutrients can help you kick the cravings, jumpstart the weight loss and keep the unwanted pounds off.

The Claim:

The diet claims to help people lose 8 to 13 pounds within the first 2 weeks of the diet initiation. The number of pounds you lose will depend entirely on your starting weight. Furthermore, you can lose one to two pounds a week.

The Theory:

The South beach diet revolves around the theory that the key to successful weight loss is knowing the best of both good carbs and bad carbs and good fat and bad fats. The diet eliminates trans-fat and discourages the consumption of saturate fats. You have to replace the saturated fats with foods rich in unsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids. It excludes the fatty portions and red meat and replaces it with oily fish, lean meat and nuts.

The diet does not eliminate all the carbohydrates. The foods should be low on the glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods keep the blood sugar levels and metabolism steady, keeping you full for longer. High GI foods, on the other hand, do exactly the opposite. These foods are digested quickly, which increase the food cravings and irregular binging.

How Does The South Beach Diet Work?

The South Beach Diet is divided into three phases; each becomes liberal as it progresses. People who have to lose less than 10 pounds can start directly with phase 2.

Phase 1:

Phase 1 is the shortest and the most restrictive phase of this diet. This phase will jump-start the weight loss process. The purpose of this phase is to get rid of hunger pangs and stabilize the blood sugar levels. The phase demands eliminating sugary and refined starchy foods. It lasts for 2 weeks and can help you lose up to 10 pounds. In spite of being extremely restrictive, you get to eat plenty of filling and nutrient dense foods to satisfy your hunger. Foods permitted in this phase are:

  • Lean protein- fish, turkey, chicken, shellfish, and soy
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Low fat dairy
  • 2 tablespoons of healthy fats a day like nuts and extra virgin olive oil.

Starchy and sugary foods, whole grains and alcohol are strictly forbidden in this phase.

You can eat four ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of milk daily. The protein intake in this phase is unlimited. The dieters are advised not to follow it for more than 2 weeks, as it is extremely restrictive.

Phase 2:

In phase 1, you are allowed to introduce good carbohydrates like whole grain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and fruits in the diet. You can have three servings of fruits, three servings of starches daily and two snacks a day. One high protein dessert is also recommended. One glass of red or white wine with the dinner is allowed. You have to stick to this phase until you reach your goal weight. The weight will continue to drop steadily. You can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds during this phase.

Phase 3:

Phase 3 is the maintenance phase. You have to follow this phase lifelong to keep off the weight. There is no list of specific permitted or prohibited food list. You are advised to eat 3 pieces of fruits, 3 to 4 servings of starches and not more than 2 tablespoons of good fat a day. If the cravings hit you again or if the eating pattern gets off track, then the plan recommends you to return to phase 1 or 2.

You do not need to count the calories, fat grams or carbohydrates. The diet can last as long as you can, depending on your weight loss goal.


Alcohol is prohibited during the first phase. In the second phase, one drink a day for women, and not more than two for men are allowed. Eating out is allowed, provided you stick to the rules.


The South Beach diet provides meal plans and hundreds of recipes along with the ingredient list. The recipes are available both online and in the form of cookbooks. “The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook”, one of the six cookbooks, costs $28.99 and the “The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution Cookbook” costs $27.99. The online members can track the meals, diet goal and weight on the company’s website.


The essential manual of the South Beach Diet costs $24.95. Online membership costs $4 to $5 a week, but you get the first 7 days free. The dieters are provided customized tools like daily newsletters, access to community messages, weight loss tracker and a printable shopping list generator. You can also make the meal budget friendly with an online tool that helps to customize the meal plans according to your budget.


The South Beach diet lays a huge emphasis on exercise and physical activities. The fitness component includes two parts- interval walking and a total body workout. Interval walking includes alternating between fast and slow pace, while total body workout includes doing cardiovascular, squats and leg kick that can strengthen the core. You have to exercise for 20 minutes daily, rotating between the interval walking and full body workout. The essential manual of this diet also offers tips on customizing the plan to your fitness levels, both for newbies and fitness buffs.

Benefits of the South Beach Diet:

1. Weight Loss:

South Beach diet is an effective way to lose weight. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the volunteers following the South Beach Diet lost an average of 13 ½ pounds over 12 weeks. However, its claim on keeping the weight off is unproven.

2. Cardiovascular Benefits:

South Beach diet is touted as a successful diet plan to improve the cholesterol and prevent heart diseases. According to a study conducted in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the South Beach dieters showed a reduction of about 4mg/dL in the LDL cholesterol. The triglyceride levels also dropped to 187 mg/DL from 224 mg/DL.

3. Diabetes:

The high triglyceride levels are one of the major causes of diabetes. The South Beach diet reduces the triglyceride level, preventing the possibility of type 2 diabetes. The South Beach diet also helps to shed excess pounds, a major cause of diabetes.

4. Fullness:

South Beach Diet will keep you full for longer time. The diet encourages eating two snacks during the first phase to reduce the hunger even before it strikes. The foods recommended in the diet are packed with fiber, which promotes fullness and satiety.

5. A Boon for the Vegetarians:

The South Beach Diet is quite flexible and uncomplicated. The diet can be followed by vegetarians without any backstep. The protein alternatives include beans, legumes, and soy products. The vegetarians can access the vegetarian meal plans and recipes for further assistance.

Cons of the South Beach Diet:

South Beach Diet is not recommended for everyone.

  • Children should definitely avoid this diet, as fad plans are not recommended for children. They need adequate nutrition to grow into healthy adults.
  • Phase 1 is not recommended for the pregnant women, as they need ample calories and nutrients for the growth and development of the fetus. Drastic weight loss can have adverse effects on the baby’s health. Pregnant women can directly go to phase two as it encourages healthy eating choices. Pregnant women should take an additional 3 to 4 cups of fat free milk to provide calcium and other nutrients to the fetus.
  • The same applies for the lactating mothers as well. They should directly jump to phase two and should eat two to three servings of fruits and starches every day. Lactating mothers should not lose more than one pound a week, as they need nutrients and calories to breastfeed the child successfully.

A Sample Diet Plan for the South Beach Diet:

Phase 1:

Breakfast: 9 pm

  • Scrambled smoked salmon
  • One glass of vegetable juice

Lunch: 1 pm

  • Vegetable salad with scallops

Evening snack: 4 pm

  • Hummus with celery sticks
  • A handful of roasted garbanzo nuts

Dinner: 8 pm

  • Chicken and pepper salad with vinegar
  • 1 cup of nonfat milk


  • One small bowl of vanilla ricotta cream

Phase 2:

Breakfast: 9 am

  • One bowl of spicy oatmeal with almonds and walnuts

Lunch: 1 pm

  • One fillet of chicken breast
  • 1 cup of vegetable slaw

Evening snack: 4 pm

  • Cherry tomatoes filled with cottage cheese

Dinner: 8 pm

  • Grilled salmon with plum sauce
  • Thai fried rice


  • Chilled coffee custard

Phase 3:

Breakfast: 9 am

  • High fiber cereals with low fat milk
  • Blueberry smoothie

Lunch: 1 pm

  • Stir fried vegetables
  • 1 bowl of tomato soup

Evening snack: 4 pm

  • Greek yogurt with fresh berries

Dinner: 8 pm

  • Grilled lean mutton with peach and tomato salsa
  • Nutty brown rice


  • Chocolate dipped strawberries

Planning to indulge on this South Beach Diet? This surely teaches you a new way of eating without taking any bad carbs and bad fats. However, it is always advisable to seek your physician’s suggestion before planning to diet. Do share your thoughts with us through comments.

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