With so many fad diets on the market, it is easy to become confused about the various benefits and drawbacks associated with each of them. One particular diet that is growing in popularity throughout the world right now is the South Beach Diet. Basically, this eating regime involves replacing bad carbs and fats with good fats and carbs.
A little background
The South Beach Diet was originally developed by Arthur Agatston, a world famous dietician and cardiologist. Agatston was firmly of the opinion that cutting fat and carbohydrates from a diet was not an effective method of long-term weight loss. Instead, he believed that choosing the right kinds of carbohydrates and fats was the best way to lose weight effectively. He devised an eating regime that was packed with fibre and essential nutrients in the belief that it would ward off cravings and aid permanent weight loss.
Modern versions of the South Beach Diet are purported to deliver weight loss of between eight and 12 pounds in the first two weeks. However, this all depends on your starting weight. You can slowly change your eating habits later on in the diet — until you reach a point where your eating habits have changed permanently. Of all the faddy diets on the market today, this is one of the more sustainable options.
How does it work?
The key to making this diet work is knowing the difference between good carbs and fats and the bad ones. All trans fats (those prevalent in processed foods) are eliminated, and saturated fats are kept to an absolute minimum. Instead, foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids dominate the diet. Large and fatty portions of red meat are typically replaced with oily fish, lean meats and nuts.
Unlike the Atkins Diet, this eating regime never fully cuts out carbohydrates. Instead, carb-rich foods must be low on the glycemic index. These carbs release energy gradually, keeping your metabolism and blood sugar levels at a consistent level throughout the day. Foods that are high on the glycemic index tend to deliver short bursts of energy, before leading to a crash and hunger pangs.
The three phases of the South Beach Diet
Phase one of the diet involves the elimination of refined starchy foods and processed sugar. While this phase restricts what you can eat considerably, it usually only lasts for two weeks. Also prohibited during this stage are whole grains and alcohol. The overweight and obese can expect to lose up to 10 pounds during this period. Among the foods allowed during this stage include vegetables, eggs, legumes, low-fat dairy produce and healthy fats such as olive oil and sunflower oil.
Phase two of the diet involves the reintroduction of certain carbohydrates into your diet. You are allowed to eat limited amounts of whole grain, brown rice, fruit and whole wheat pasta. You’re allowed three servings of starchy food, three servings of fruit and two snacks. You can also treat yourself to the odd glass of wine with dinner. And there’s also room for a high-protein dessert.
Phase three is the phase that pretty much lasts forever. This is about changing your lifestyle for good — and maintaining a healthy weight with careful diet management. You’re allowed more carbs, more healthy fats and more calories, but they all need to be managed carefully. The fact that you don’t have to deprive yourself of any major food group means sticking to the diet in the long-term is an achievable goal.
What are the benefits of the South Beach Diet?
While those first two weeks of the diet are always tough, the benefits can be huge — and well worth the sacrifice. For instance, the initial weight loss can be up to 10 pounds, and the average rate over the first two phases is around a stone every 12 weeks. There are also some significant benefits for the health of your cardiovascular system. Cholesterol levels can be reduced, blood pressure can be regulated general cardiovascular function can be improved.
Apart from weight loss, a key motivation for people on the South Beach Diet is the need to reverse the onset of type 2 diabetes. The lack of processed sugars in the diet reduces levels of triglyceride substantially. This chemical is one of the main contributing factors in the development of diabetes. This eating regime also promotes a feeling of fullness.
The South Beach Diet isn’t complicated, but cutting out sugar, saturated fat and all your favourite convenience foods and treats can be a chore. But let’s face it: it wouldn’t be a diet if you were eating everything you wanted.