South Beach Diet Review

South Beach Diet Review


Update: Jul 11, 2024

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. [1]

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! [2]

And some medical and nutritional professionals aren’t convinced with Dr. Agatston’s science: 

as of the early 2000’s, there is no scientific proof that eating low-GI foods will have any more weight loss effect than eating a normal, calorie-reduced diet that includes carbohydrates; that Dr. Agatston also fails to take into account the interaction of different foods when eaten together, which can dramatically alter glucose metabolism; and that this failure means that utilizing the Glycemic Index as a gauge for what foods to eat is not only confusing but also slightly misleading. (emphasis added)

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.

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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.

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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. [4]

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.

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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.

5.7 Total Score
South Beach Diet Scorecard

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  1. I wish I had seen this website BEFORE I ordered. The food is terrible. When I told them I did not like the food, they wanted to know if I tried adding spices, etc. The food it WAY over spiced as it is. Phase I is mostly protein shakes. Seriously, who can do that 3 meals a day? I’m trying to eat as much as I can so I don’t waste money but it is a struggle. I had no idea they set me up for auto delivery. I just called to try and cancel and after asking 900 questions and me finally telling them “I JUST WANT TO CANCEL, NO MORE QUESTIONS”, I was told there would be a $120 cancellation fee. Really? I filed a complaint with the PA Attorney General and will dispute the charge on my credit card if they try charging me for a second shipment.

  2. BUYER BEWARE!!!! Terms and conditions obligate you to automatic shipments. If you cancel they charge back all the discounts they gave you with the first order. They bury this at checkout “terms and conditions” – biggest scam ever! Don’t fall for it!

  3. Yes … I was Nutrisystem before South Beach and it’s 100xs better…. including the counseling department and customer support. I also read that Nutrisystem bought out South Beach which I think was a big mistake because any of their customers who would have left up try South Beach would have returned back.

    South Beach customer Service Representatives are awful…. in fact I started the program 2 weeks ago and they sent me 3 different versions on how to follow it … so inconsistent and no one there knows what they are talking about . I am locked in for another month with them then I heading back to Nutrisytem’s program.

  4. Getting a subscription cancelled is almost impossible! Called Chat line. Chat line told me I had to call and “no questions will be asked”. Wrong! I refused to answer any questions when transferred twice to a “consultant”. She said cancellation REQUIRED answering questions.A review of the contract does not support this. I gave her my name and address and emphasized I WAS CANCELLING and hung up. I have my conversation recorded and have a copy of the chat questions/answers and will call my credit card company to stop the auto pay. My husband said that the reason men loose weight with South Beach is because they loose their appetite when eating it. Don’t know how they can make great recipes taste so bad. Interestingly, any attempt to email South Beach (i.e. comes back with a ‘failure notice’. If there was a class action, I would join it. If I have any more problems, I am turning everything over to the State of Texas Attorney General Office. They can usually get the attention of companies who attempt to scam consumers.

  5. The month after we had canceled the south beach diet, they tried to take the fees out of our checking account, first there wasn’t enough money allotted for it to come out, second they were called and we were told it wouldn’t be lifted for four days, that was over Memorial Day and we were out of town on vacation, that was the money we were supposed to use for out trip. Needless to say we weren’t doing any sight seeing

  6. BE AWARE when you order southbeach food on line they automatically set you up with automatic monthly subscription for $300 that they will not take back if you don’t catch the fact that you just signed up for it. Autodelivery means you will be billed and a month worth of food will be sent. I think this is a deceptive way to make money as usual. I should have known better. They also have very poor customer service, acted real nice on phone but would not take food back, give me a discount or anything….then left me on hold for 45 minutes only to disconnect me. I got no where trying to talk to them. The diet itself is good-most of the food was ok, the real benefit being it made it much easier to stay on the diet because the real challenge is the time it takes to make all the food if you work.

  7. When I called to cancel my order, the lady asked me a thousand questions. What food do you normally eat, How much food, and so on. When I mentioned the old South Beach entrees and how good they were, she stated “South Beach never had entrees before.” I know they did…. That’s so sad that their a rip off.

  8. Food is terrible. I lost some weight on phase one, but none on phase two and it’s hard to stay on when you have to hold your nose just to eat it. I called to stop my next shipment and of course the first person I spoke to had to transfer me to what must have been the “closer”, because she kept asking questions to try and convince me not to cancel. Didn’t work, but now I have to pay over $100 just to cancel my order. Geez. I won’t make that mistake again and will definitly tell all who will listen not to as well!

  9. These meals are disgusting and I cant see to get out of it because I got some sort of deal that I have to pay back a portion. The chicken is chewy and gross… Any advice in how to get out of this plan?

  10. My thoughts EXACTLY!!!! this is the worst excuse for food that you could imagine. 99% of it is completely inedible….disgusting. You can lose weight by eating cardboard, and it would taste better, too. I wasted the same $300 as Agnes above, then when I called to cancel, they said I owed them $125 for early cancellation fee since I didn’t get 2 months of “product”. They are extremely arrogant, rude and obnoxious on the phone…that is, when you can finally get to speak to someone. I sent 3 emails and had 2 chats…none of the emails were returned and the chat people said they couldn’t help me. I sat on hold for over 30 minutes to speak to a person who was rude and unhelpful. I alerted my credit card company and disputed the cancellation charge. AVOID THIS SCAM AT ALL COSTS!!!!

  11. The prepackaged South Beach Diet is now owned by Nurtrisystem. South Beach would not admit it when I asked them but one of my e-mails to them bounced (they don’t like to talk to unhappy customers) and the return address was Nutrisystem. So I googled it. They were bought out by Nurtisystem. Nurtisystem inherited a company with a lot of dissatisfied customers. I used Nurtisystem about 10 years ago, never had any problems with them and their food tastes better.

  12. This stuff is DISGUSTING. Sure, you can lose weight on it…you can also lose weight by eating worms. I bought a month’s worth of this at some $300 and I ended up throwing it all out after the 3rd day. The pictures look amazing. The TV commercials are enticing…but the food is mush and barely edible. (NutriSystem, which I did several years ago, is better BY FAR.) I found their customer service, which I called twice, fine…but they wouldn’t let me get out so easily. I had to order another shipment before they’d let me out. Read the fine print!

  13. AWFUL, HORRIBLE Customer service!!!Have now been on the phone for almost 1.5 hours. Transferred to, not exaggerating 8 times. Called because needed a refund for an unauthorized shipment. BE CARFUL if you order, twice they set up an automatic delivery account without our authorization. Reason my husband stopped using was because it was giving him hives (yes he went to the doctor). Unbelievable.

  14. I want to repeat what I just read. I also received a second order I did not expect, nor want. I had no room and had to use a friends freezer. I tried the first couple of weeks and did lose some weight. However, the entrees are terrible. They are small, containing very little protein as chicken or beef. I needed to doctor it up with Teriyaki sauce or ketchup. The only good things are the shakes and the bars which you can buy in any supermarket. The omelets were like hockey pucks. I’ve been giving it away but my friends agree with me. A big waste of time and my money.

  15. I initially did this diet with some neighbors that insisted I join them. I just had a baby about a year prior and was still not back to my pre-pregnancy body. Plus, like my friends keep telling me, “You can do anything for two weeks. It’s just not that long. Will admit the first week was hard, but only because I had been eating more poorly than I realized. After the first two weeks, I just stopped craving the sugar and other crap food. It was so easy by then, I just stayed on the phase one portion for a month. Incredibly, I lost 20 lbs! I have never truly lost weight on a diet before and it’s why I just didn’t believe in it. I can also tell you that it was a complete lifestyle change. I was 33 at the time and to this day, I never put sugar in my coffee and have not had a drink of soda in about 13 years! The weight never rebounded, because I never went back to my old way of eating and it inspired me to be more diligent with my food choices and more respectful of my body and health. Over the years and maybe the best part is that my kids have benefited from this commitment as well and at a time when our kids are generally less healthy, mine are strong, lean and healthy- better yet, they understand how to manage it for themselves. I have come back to this diet over the years as a refresh on my habits and to detox my body. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PROGRAM! The book was cheap – they are not just after your money. (Note: I have not tried the meal delivery service, I just read the book and prepared the suggested meals. I enjoyed the recipes and it was very easy to implement the program.)

  16. If you goggle search the South Beach diet. There’s the “Induction Phase”, that lasts at least 2 wks. maybe 3. In that phase there are no sweets except artificial sweetener. This phase is to get you past craving sugar and it’s the hardest phase. No sugar, not even fruit. Sugar equals carbs. Phase 2 starts allowing certain fruit and veggies that contain “healthy carbs”. Find their official site. There’s lots of info, “Foods Allowed in Phase 1, 2 and 3. Chat with others on the diet. Recipes for each phase. I see people are NOT happy with this stuff that’s being sold here or how they’re running their “business”. Blow this off, you don’t need to pay anything at the official South Beach Diet site.

  17. It is just tiny portions. I was amazed when I read the calories for such a miniscule amount of food on their packages. I now have a great high protein breakfast, 3 scrambled eggs with a smattering of feta cheese = 210 calories. Better than any breakfast of microwaved food.

  18. Reply
    ROBERT STEVEN REESER July 17, 2019 at 11:49 am

    $425 wasted. Food looks nothing like the box photos. Turns to mush when its cooked. Flavors all blend. Called today to cancel was charged $125 to do so. Online chat customer service said I could get a refund then said ignore what I said and I would have to pay full price, she had made a mistake with providing false info. I have been on Nutri-system and loved it but thought id give South Beach a chance. BIG MISTAKE.. a company that doesnt back thier product YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY FROM………… Going to throw out the remaining food. Only 3 days in and cant stomach it. South Beach you should be ashamed of your products and lack of customer service.. OH and the APP never works and trying to get someone online took 8 attempts and over 1 hour………. VERY DISAPPOINTED…

  19. My wife and I ordered the South Beach 4 week delivery plan for around $675. By far the worst food we have eaten and they should be charged with false advertising after seeing what is on the box vs. reality (SB will blame the microwave settings which isn’t the case).
    My opinion is to stay well away from South Beach delivery option. We even threw away much of what was delivered as we couldn’t even give it away.

  20. I also am very mad about that. I canceled because the food is gross! They charged my bank account $125.00 for cancellation fees. I called and ripped them a new one. I’m so pissed.

  21. Started the diet with high expectations, the food was not good at all. decided to try another way. Anyway, I got on the website and tried to cancel, this is another business that makes it very difficult to stop their program. There was no way to cancel online, so I got on chat and they could not help, he gave me a number to call. I called the number and a lady would not accept my decision to just quit, she had a million questions about why and how I could do the program another way, I pleaded that “I JUST WANT TO STOP THE PROGRAM” Anyway, it ended with me having to pay another 135.00 dollars and another shipment of crap food, because of the “discount” on my first shipment that I had to go at least two months into the program. I will never deal with online diets again!! So disappointed with Southbeach.

  22. Biggest waste of money ever. The food was truly disgusting. They do not guarantee their product – you don’t like it that’s your problem and you’re out the $300. And their “week free” with sign up includes signing you up for their auto delivery. Even more expensive nasty food forced on you. If you try to cancel they charge $125 for that “free week”.

    The food is filled with preservatives and other fake food ingredients. The carb count was crazy high – in Phase I! Starch in snacks! The South Beach diet works, but this isn’t that diet. I actually GAINED WEIGHT with this garbage.


    GROSS FAKE FOOD. No refunds, no guarantees.

    Automatically signed up for FORCED AUTO DELIVERY which costs $125 to cancel.


    Stay far far away.

  23. I agree about the deceptive business practice and not making the cancellation of $99 known until after the order is cancelled. The food was not good and caused my diabetes to get way out of control after just one week. Had to stop the diet to get back control. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic do not go on this diet!

  24. I have been attempting to use the SBD food for 2 weeks and I have had it. This is the worst food I have ever attempted to eat. The Phase 1 foods are so bad that I couldn’t eat any of it. It smelled bad after it was heated and it tasted worse. I have lost 5 pounds because I am starving. Paid 300 for the food, what a waste of good food. It does, however, make me appreciate the taste of fresh food, like tomatoes, broccoli, brussells sprouts, anything but the food they send you. Please don’t waste your money. 300 dollars down the drain. Oh, I tried the Phase 2 foods just to see if I could stand it, I could not.

  25. 10 yrs. ago I lost 65 pnds. on South Beach in 1 yr. I now need to loose about 35 pnds that have jumped back on within the past 2 yrs. In that 2 yr. period I moved to Tx. from Ca. and started eating very differently. From Cal. fresh veggies and fruit of all kinds to Tx. biscuits and gravy and a heavy dose of carbs at every meal. Plus, just as much a factor if not more so I now use a wheel chair nearly always. Ten years ago when I went on South Beach I talked to my Neurologist about it. He said having the extra weight isn’t good for me so get the weight off then go back to eating a healthy balanced diet. South Beach is very difficult to stick to especially in the beginning. Carbs are equal to sugar and cutting ALL sugar can cause withdrawal symptoms. I’ll need to clean out my pantry so there are no temptations. I equate it to stopping smoking, well maybe not that tough but it’s hard and will consume my every thought for the 1st 2 wks. I’ll stay in the induction phase longer than 2 wks. as South Beach says, or used to say that’s safe. What makes the diet a little easier to stay on is I’ll see the weight drop rapidly and that motivates me in a big way. It seems I remember it was more like 5 pnds off per wk. for the 1st 2-3 wks at least for me. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  26. The best diet plan for me. I tried this about two decades ago and got in shape better than ever! Looking at trying again but I noticed there’s no pills to take like I did before. So I’m wondering if it will work for me now.

  27. The food is terrible. The frozen spinach in all of the breakfast choices tastes like fish and the preservatives in canned food makes you feel toxic. When I tried to cancel the next shipment, they held me to the second month. I will be spending 500.00 (total) on a bunch of food that I cant stomach. Literally, my stomach has been screwed up with gas every day that I’ve tried to eat the food. Read the contract. You can’t cancel on the subscription for two months and you can’t return the gross food. This company is all about making a buck. I don’t recommend this diet at all. I feel taken advantage of for sure since I can’t cancel the next shipment of food. They should allow you to buy small test package to make sure you like it.

  28. The food was awful. Some of the meals didn’t even cover the bottom of the tray. Very little variety. Don’t bother with this. Waste of time.

  29. This is the worst food delivery service ever. They are really Nutrisystem BUT MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE. The food is terrible. They told me I did not have to cook any meals and when the food arrived albeit a mess!! disorganized and jumbled, the instructions quite lacking, found out I was responsible to make on my own 6 meals. I was assured that the menu instructions would be easy to follow but they were NOT. Almost non-existent. I complained immediately and offered to send it all back. They told me on the phone I could get full credit and now refuse. DO NOT BUY….JeNny Craig, Diettogo and others are so much better. I requested they listen to the recorded call with the sales rep to prove to them I am telling the truth about what I asked, what I was promised and what was claimed. So far they just want to argue about the promised credit. Amex has an open case. I warned I would tell all and it would cost them more in lost business than my silly credit but they don’t care. so this is the truth….

  30. The meals taste good and you can customize your menu without additional fees like Nutrisystem will charge. It’s simple, easy to follow life style changes. You do not have to sign up for Auto delivery and get charged monthly if you don’t want to. With any “diet” you have to do your research and figure our what works best for your life. I did nutrisystem twice, once 10 years ago having great results and than a second time last year. The second time around the food was horrible and wasn’t the right choice for me. I have the South Beach book and after researching this program I’m thrilled with the results! Worst case try the 1 week reboot first, if you don’t like it, you’ll know this program isn’t for you.

  31. RIP OFF

    food sucks, paid over $400 and then I canceled after 3 days and charged me $125! I want my money back!

  32. Unlike most of the reviews I’ve read, I found the meals themselves anywhere from tolerable to good, though I’m not a particularly fussy eater to begin with. I live alone, so the convenience of having MRE’s in the fridge was a big plus. They send a “month’s” supply of meals at a time.
    You can lose weight if you can understand their complex instructions (I couldn’t), but in reality that was only part of the reason I subscribed. I just wanted the convenience of not having to run to the supermarket twice a week.

    I put “month” in quotation marks, because in fact a “month’s” worth of meals amounts to much less than a calendar month. It comes to 20 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 15 dinners. They also send 40 snacks (two for each day) and 20 shakes (one for each day). They must have had some lawyers look at the language of their contract and cleared it. Perhaps they can call it a month’s supply because they send it only once a month? I don’t know. But to my ordinary intelligence, two weeks of lunches and dinners and twenty days of breakfasts isn’t a month’s supply.

    That brings me to the actual cost. The monthly bill for me was $386, which we can round up to $400 with applicable taxes. Add to that the supplemental groceries and the extra week and a half or more of meals you’ll need, a monthly food bill for one person is nearly $900 per month ($400 for SB, $250 for the week and a half of meals that aren’t included in your “month,” and another $250 for the extras you need). Now that ready-made low calorie meals are abundantly available at all grocery stores, there’s little reason to use a service like this. With a some care, one can eat what SB provides for 1/3 to a 1/2 the daily cost.

    I can attest to the complete impossibility to getting through to them. They don’t answer or even acknowledge emails. As for the 800 number they provide, there’s never anyone available to take your call. Why would there be? What kind of person would work in customer service for them, when they know every call is going to be a complaint? Can you imagine going into work knowing you’re going to get chewed out by angry customers blaming you personally for your company’s policies for 8 hours every day?

    It’s a pity they’ve decided to go this route instead of just practicing a little honesty in their marketing and business model. They don’t have a bad product.

    BTW, I finally just cancelled the credit card they were billing and blocked the bank from updating their records to the new card. That is apparently the only way to get out of a subscription without getting fined.

    I feel foolish for ever having gotten involved with them.

  33. The frozen meals are absolutely awful. The soup was fair. There was zero variety, they sent 10 chili dinners (so you better like chili) and a few chicken somethings, all had this bitter lemon taste. Portion size are for that of a small child. I am far from a picky eater and this was just gross. It was a sacrifice to have to eat this. They sent about 30 bars, 3 flavor “varieties”. Website is not user friendly and the information on how to use the program is very confusing, as well as vague. You’ll also find some conflicting info. Don’t bother calling or trying to live chat, they won’t answer. Lastly, I have followed the program and logged religiously and have only lost 4 pounds in 2 weeks. $400 in food and half the time you have to use your own groceries anyway (add eggs, vegetables, make your own food 6 times a week etc). There were times where I just dreaded having to eat 2 bars in a day, so I’d sub my own approved snack or light meal. If you want to follow the meal plan, get the book and make your own food, their plan is just a big waste of money and time.

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