The South Beach Diet was created back in 2003, its main purpose to eliminate all bad carbohydrates from a user’s diet. Cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston first came up with the program, published in book form. There’s no calorie counting, and the foods are higher in proteins and fats. It’s marketed to people wanting to lose weight, to become healthier, and to adopt these eating habits for life.
How Does The South Beach Diet Work?
There are three phases to the South Beach diet, plus their own food line for shipment and purchase that takes the thinking out of eating. According to the website:
Phase 1: Your 7-Day Body Reboot
See results in your first week. Reset your body for fast weight loss. Burn fat and transform your metabolism with a high-protein low-carb plan. Enjoy delicious, fully prepared South Beach Diet® entrees, snack bars and shakes. Specially selected foods and meal plan make Phase 1 easy. Reduce your cravings for sugar and refined starches.
Phase 2: Steady Weight Loss
Keep losing weight to hit your goal. Add in good carbs from whole grains, fruits and more vegetables. Save time with delicious, fully prepared South Beach Diet® meals each week. Enjoy added flexibility with one DIY breakfast, lunch and dinner each week. Transform your body with simple fitness tips.
Phase 3: You’ve Got This!
Learn the way to maintain a healthy weight without hunger or deprivation. Enjoy all foods in moderation. Easily follow the basic South Beach Diet® principles. Look your best. Enjoy optimal health. Eat happy and healthy for life!
The book itself runs around $10.00. But if you choose home delivery, meals will come to your door for 4 weeks at a cost of $339.99—that’s for one person. It doesn’t include food or meal prep time for other family members.
One customer who purchased just the book said:
This diet is full of common sense and I have lost weight by following the guidelines. It is easy to follow with lots of veggies, sensible proteins and cutting out processed foods, white flour and sugar. There are some errors in the book though. In the first two week phase, you are supposed to avoid carrots (higher sugar content) yet in the first phase recipe section, the recipe includes carrots.
Is The South Beach Diet Safe?
The diet itself seems logically safe, with no dangerous supplements promising immediate and unrealistic weight loss. The meals and snacks they offer aren’t full of unpronounceable ingredients. South Beach’s main focus is to provide the dieter with a well-balanced nutritional platform and educate about good versus bad carbohydrates.
Pros And Cons Of The South Beach Diet
The bones of this diet are easy to follow and understand; there is no measuring or counting calories. Eliminating refined carbohydrates and sugar will help you feel healthier overall, with or without weight loss. The South Beach Diet promotes eating six small meals per day, which levels your blood sugar rather than a cycle of skyrocket/crash.
But it has some problems. This diet is very low in calcium, so you will definitely need a supplement in order to hit your daily requirement. In Phase 2 you are allowed two cups of dairy per day, but this is still not enough.
If you purchase the diet program from South Beach’s main website, you are roped into purchasing all of your meals and snacks at a cost of hundreds of dollars per month. And not all the reviews on the taste of those expensive meals are positive.
Even if you just purchase the diet book and forego the pre-made meals, you still have to make a lifestyle change. Getting your body into a state of ketosis—the whole point of all low-carb diets, where you burn fat because the carbs are all but gone—can have temporary side effects like dizziness, nausea, lethargy, and brain-fog.
The Bottom Line
The South Beach Diet hasn’t really set itself apart from other low-carb programs, though there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It’s marketed to the masses with plenty of celebrity endorsements but seems to have helped enough people to justify the no-doubt pricey promotion. It’s strict but not dangerous, though it does lack sufficient calcium. The price tag is high, but pre-made meals may be worth the investment for some. I didn’t see much in the way of raving or panning the taste of the shipped meals; mostly it came across as edible but not exactly something to get excited over. And of course, once you hit your goal weight you’ll still need to follow the South Beach guidelines. All in all, there are cheaper ways to go low-carb.