South Beach Diet


The South Beach Diet is a low-carbohydrate “lifestyle diet” that yields relatively quick short-term weight loss results. A three-phased approach focuses on replacing bad carbs with good carbs and bad fats with good fats. Dieters need not count calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, or anything else. A typical daily plan consists of three meals, two snacks, and one high-protein dessert.

How does the South Beach Diet Work?

The first two weeks of the diet, Phase 1, is designed to eliminate cravings for sugar and refined starches and jump-start weight loss. Meals during this phase include lean protein, skinless white-meat poultry, and lean cuts of beef or meat substitutes, high-fiber vegetables, reduced-fat cheeses, eggs, low-fat dairy, and healthy, unsaturated fats.

Foods added during phase 2 include whole-grain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, fruits, and more vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and peas. In addition to incorporating more foods, phase 3 continues the meal habits formed during Phases 1 and 2 and allows for occasional indulgences. Phase 3 is intended to be followed for life.

Program Cost*

Dieters following the South Beach Diet cook their own food according to each phase of the plan. As a result, there are no prepared meals to purchase. Online membership costs $4 per week (billed quarterly every 13 weeks). An initial, nonrefundable 4-week minimum commitment of $20 is required.

Online membership includes a personal meal planner and tools to track your weight loss goals, numerous healthy South Beach recipes, and access to answers from Dr. Agaston—creator of the South Beach Diet. Also included is the South Beach Diet Fitness Club that provides member with a complete fitness routine that emphasizes core, cardio, strength, and flexibility.

*Pricing reflects available cost details as of January 2012.

Pros and Cons

  • The diet teaches about “good carbs” and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy blood sugar balance
  • South Beach provides hundreds of gourmet recipes with ingredient lists, calorie counts, and nutritional facts to help dieters prepare plan recommended meals
  • The diet includes daily approved treats, making it a more realistic plan that can be adopted long-term
  • Different permitted and forbidden foods in each phase of the plan can get confusing
  • Limited food choices in Phase 1 and 2 may result in dietary fatigue
  • May be difficult for vegetarians to adapt the plan to sufficiently suit non-meat preferences

South Beach Diet

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The South Beach Diet encourages a healthy intake of vegetables and lean protein in addition to the elimination of white sugar and refined carbohydrates. Those who have experienced weight loss and improved health remain loyal followers of the plan and attest to its long-term benefits.

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