What is the South Beach Diet?
The South Beach Diet is a diet plan developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, who describes it extensively in his book entitled "The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss".
In line with the latest trends in the dietary field, the food strategy devised by Dr. Agatston is based on the restriction of carbohydrates, on the glycemic index of foods and on the choice of fats considered healthy for the body. These guidelines are considered essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, while decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.
How to follow the Diet
Like the Atkins diet, the "south beach diet" also provides a first phase of induction in which the consumption of carbohydrates is minimized (only vegetables with a very low glycemic index are tolerated). This is the hardest period of the entire diet but which, according to Dr. Agatston, induces those metabolic adaptations necessary to favor the body's consumption of fat.
At least in this first phase it will be necessary to say goodbye to bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit, alcohol, cakes, ice cream and sugar. The first foods on the list will then be gradually reintroduced in the second and third phase.
The south beach diet requires the induction period to last a couple of weeks, promising an initial weight loss of 4-6 kg.
Example of a diet menu:
- Scrambled eggs with 2 slices of bacon, vegetable juice
- The or decaffeinated coffee corrected with skim milk and / or artificial sweeteners
- MID-MORNING SNACK
- Celery stuffed with low-fat cheese
- Salad made with green leafy vegetables, turkey, ham and low-fat cheese
- AFTERNOON SNACK
- 10 cherry tomatoes with lean ricotta
- Tuna, peas and cabbage with olive oil
- DESSERT AFTER DINNER
- Lean ricotta with almonds
All meals, including snacks and evening desserts, must be consumed, even if there is no desire to eat. It is also important to take an adequate amount of water every day.
The second phase is similar to the first but proves more tolerant towards polysaccharides.
The south beach diet in fact provides for the gradual reintroduction of foods rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and whole grains. The consumption of these foods must however remain at a moderate level, much lower than that envisaged by the Mediterranean diet. Even skimmed milk, most of the fruit, legumes and red wine can be included in the diet with relative peace of mind.
Bananas, carrots, foods rich in refined carbohydrates, potatoes, pineapples and honey should be consumed very sparingly.
The south beach diet requires this second phase to be followed until the ideal weight is reached. It is not possible to quantify this time frame, as it depends on the starting weight, how a person follows the diet and how their body responds to the new meal plan.
The third phase is characterized by an even more liberal dietary approach that must be maintained throughout life (three servings of cereals and three of fruit can be freely consumed every day). The sacrifices made in the first two phases and the understanding of the basic principles of the south beach diet should guarantee, at least in theory, the maintenance of a healthy weight.
The transition from the typical dietary habits of Western countries to those recommended by the South Beach diet would also improve the blood lipid profile, preventing overweight, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases in general and some types of cancer.
If during particular periods of life the needle of the balance should rise again, it will be sufficient to repeat the entire dietary plan starting from phase I.
Pros and Cons
- The south beach diet makes a clear distinction between "bad" and "good" carbohydrates by encouraging the consumption of the latter. Sugar and all foods that contain it in significant quantities (sweets, cakes, desserts, baked goods and sugary fruit) fall into the first category.
- Good carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates associated with fiber, such as those contained in whole grains, vegetables and most of the fruit.
- This strategy has proved to be particularly effective in combating obesity and diabetes.
- The satiety power of the proposed foods is generally high and, together with the numerous snacks, avoids the appearance of uncontrolled and dangerous hunger attacks.
- The south beach diet suggests consuming mainly mono and polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3s) avoiding saturated and dangerous trans fats, better known as hydrogenated fats. Thanks to these particular measures, the cardiovascular risk decreases significantly and important benefits can also be appreciated in reducing body weight.
- The south beach diet stresses several times the importance of a good breakfast which, together with small and healthy snacks, reduces the risk of arriving hungry for lunch and dinner. This strategy can also be useful to counteract the drop in basal metabolism linked to the strong caloric restriction that characterizes the induction phase.
- Phase I of the south beach diet is too restrictive and low in vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals. For the umpteenth time it should be emphasized that losing weight is not synonymous with losing weight. The kg lost in the first period are in fact due in large part to muscle catabolism, the consumption of carbohydrate reserves and the consequent dehydration.
- Not enough space is reserved for physical exercise which, in any self-respecting food program, must be understood as an integral part of the diet.
- The south beach diet is not based on the calculation of calories which, while not the only important element of a diet, must still be taken into consideration.
- Such an approach risks nullifying the slimming effects of the diet, especially when it is followed by a person who does not know, at least in broad terms, the caloric intake of various foods.