South Beach Diet: Yes or No?

Should you try this popular weight-loss program?

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the South Beach Diet. Around since 2003 and created by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, the South Beach Diet is named after a beautiful beach in Miami. The question is, will this diet make your body bikini-worthy for this summer on the beach?

Also called a modified low-carb diet, the South Beach diet focuses on lowering carbs while eating lean protein and healthy fats. Does this diet live up to its claims? What are the pros and cons for this type of eating plan?  Holland Fit Body BootCamp reveals all — read on to find out more.

Understand the Plan

The South Beach Diet is divided into three phases. Phase one lasts two weeks and is the most difficult. In an effort to eliminate cravings for refined starches and sugar and to jumpstart initial weight loss, dieters cut virtually all carbohydrates from their diet and fill up on lean protein (eggs, beef, poultry, seafood, and nuts), low-fat dairy, high-fiber and low-glycemic index veggies (broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach), and healthy fats (canola oil, olive oil, and avocados). Fruit, fruit juice, and alcohol are off limits.

During phase two, certain foods that weren’t allowed in phase one are slowly added back in. This includes whole-grain breads, rice, and pastas; certain fruits; alcohol (in moderation); and other veggies. White bread, bagels, potatoes, raisins, watermelon, pineapple, and sweets, however, are still avoided. Weight loss continues at a slower pace, usually one to two pounds a week. This phase could last days, weeks, months, or however long it takes to reach your weight-loss goal.

The last phase, phase three, is called a maintenance phase. The principles and diet habits formed during the previous phases continue for the rest of life. In this stage, you’re free to eat all foods in moderation. If cravings come back and weight creeps back on, you simply return to phase one or two.

For long-term weight loss and good overall health, exercise is a recommended part of the South Beach Diet. The exercise program includes interval walking and core-strengthening exercises that are performed 20 minutes every day of the week.

Understand the Good

Such a popular diet must have good results, right? The South Beach Diet claims dieters can expect to lose 8 to 13 pounds within the first two weeks. Proponents of the plan say it’s a diet that can be followed for a lifetime—not just a few months for quick weight loss. They also insist that anyone can experience improved health by eating a South Beach diet, even if you don’t want to lose weight.

The good news about this diet compared to other low-carb diets is that it doesn’t require you to count calories, completely cut fat, or figure percentages of carbs. You just have to be careful of the type of carbs you eat. With the South Beach Diet, meals are simple to make, a wide variety of foods are encouraged, and snacking and desserts are allowed. In-person meetings aren’t a part of the plan.

However, Holland bootcamp suggests that this diet is most effective for people who already like the kinds of food it proposes (foods high in fiber and nutrients), are willing to make the necessary dietary changes for weight loss, and want a diet they can follow long-term.

Understand the Bad

There doesn’t seem to be much of a downside to this diet. But there are some common complaints. If you’re used to eating pre-packaged, processed foods, growing accustomed to preparing healthy, whole foods may cost a little extra and take more time. Another issue folks have is that phase one, while lasting only two weeks, is so restrictive it results in many dropping the program. The third most common complaint is the amount of carbohydrates in the South Beach Diet. As it falls below the recommended daily amounts for optimal health, there is concern that cutting so many carbs—even if just for two weeks.

The Many Flavors of South Beach. Whether gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or low-salt, a personal trainer in Holland believes that the South Beach Diet can be customized to fit your personal dietary preferences.

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