South Beach Diet Review

This South Beach Diet review outlines a three phase commercial diet program designed by American cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatston in response to an increasing prevalence of cardiac disease within his practice. Developed originally to address weight loss problems amongst his private patients, many of whom struggled within the confines of traditional restrictive diets.

The South Beach Diet focuses on replacing ‘bad carbs’ and ‘bad fats’ with their ‘good’ counterparts which is very similar to the Atkins diet, although it is not strictly classed as a low carb diet. Designed as a long term lifestyle adaptation, this diet focuses on participants eating a naturally balanced selection of foods and involves no quantity measuring or calorie counting beyond general moderation.

Agatston was particularly interested in the concept of controlling the appetite by stabilizing blood sugar and subsequent insulin levels by consuming low GI foods.  He theorized that blood sugar spikes triggered cravings and therefore foods with a high GI that rapidly elevated levels should be avoided.

Despite the name, this diet has nothing to do with a beach in Miami

  • Phase 1 of the diet seems to focus on this theory as it involves abstaining from sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, and some higher-glycemic vegetables for two weeks.
  • Phase 2 encourages steady weight loss and complex carbohydrates including grains and fruit are reintroduced into the diet - this phase is maintained for as long as desired.
  • Phase 3 is designed to be the final set of eating habits to be sustained indefinitely, and is aimed at maintaining an optimum weight by enjoying a healthy balanced diet using the principals of the first two stages.

Interestingly this diet claims to target dangerous, difficult to shift visceral or belly fat, stored deep within the abdomen surrounding organs. This fat is believed to secrete proteins that can trigger chronic inflammation, increasing the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. This targeted reduction is said to be achieved by following a number of basic nutritional guidelines.  These include:

  • replacing bad fats such as saturated and hydrogenated, with good monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in avocados, olive oil and nuts
  • and controlling the stress hormone cortisol by regulating blood glucose levels.

This diet is based solidly on good science, with research identifying that people with chronically high levels of cortisol tend to carry excess visceral fat as do those whose diets are rich in sugar and simple carbohydrates.

Nutritionally this is a sound eating plan encouraging healthy habits and posing little risk of deficiency. Like any enterprise it has attracted some criticism primarily for the strict ‘members only’ policy, and as a result specific information is somewhat difficult to source. There is also some concern over the promotion of artificial sweeteners containing saccharin and aspartame and the exclusion of some beneficial saturated fats such as coconut.

The South Beach Diet Review concludes: While marketed as a weight loss program, the South Beach Diet can offer a multitude of positive health benefits.  Combined with regular recommended exercise this eating plan is responsible and effective. Popular for its unrestrictive nature the principals of this diet can be applied to any meal plan without costing a cent.  

As part of our South Beach Diet Review, we recommend you seek
medical advice before commencing any new diet program.

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