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The South Beach Diet

    The South Beach Diet began in the mid 1990’s when cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston decided to create a diet to contend with the ineffective low-fat, high carbohydrate diets that were popular at the time. His philosophy was to create a diet that would teach the consumer to eat the right carbohydrates and the right proteins. According to Dr. Agatston, “I wanted to find a diet that would help prevent or reverse heart disease.” (Agatston) He was also seeking a diet that would work in the long term.  In her article, “What is the South Beach Diet”, Kirsten Hawkins (a nutrition and health expert) mentions the use of the Glycemic Index,

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A key concept in the South Beach diet is the Glycemic Index. Foods are ranked on a scale of 1-100 according to their Glycemic index – the amount by which they raise blood sugar levels after meals. The focus of your diet should be on foods low on the GI level…while avoiding those high on the GI scale…


    The South Beach Diet, much like the Atkins diet, is divided into three phases. Phase One is intended to “Kick-Start Your Weight Loss” (How the diet works, 2007); specifically, this is the part of the diet where the dieter must get rid of all carbohydrates in order to increase metabolism and decrease sugar cravings. This phase lasts two weeks and involves eating three protein-rich meals per day along with two mandatory snacks. There are no carbohydrates allowed during this phase: the dieter may not eat bread, rice, potatoes, or sugar. Phase Two is intended to be followed until the dieter reaches his or her weight loss goal, and during this phase, carbohydrates are reintroduced into the diet – provided that they are the “right” carbs, such as whole grains and fruits. Finally, Phase Three is for those dieters who have reached his or her goal weight. The dieter may experiment with the earlier phases in order to find the right balance of protein and “good” carbohydrates to maintain the goal weight.

    The South Beach Diet is intended to help the dieter lose between eight and thirteen pounds in the first phase (two weeks) of the program. In addition, the claim is that the weight will come off of one’s midsection. In phase two, the dieter can expect to lose between one and two pounds per week. Dr. Agatston’s claims in regard to the South Beach diet are based on a study in which 40 overweight people lost almost twice as much weight as those people who followed the American Heart Association (AHA) diet (Agatston). At the twelve-week mark, South Beach dieters lost nearly 14 pounds each. In addition, the South Beach group lowered their percentage of belly fat and triglycerides, and improved cholesterol levels. While five dieters following the AHA diet dropped out, only one person dropped out of the South Beach diet study. Agatston does not offer specific weight loss expectations.

    The South Beach Diet offers the usual diet recommendations: drinking eight glasses of water per day, limiting caffeine consumption and taking a calcium supplement. However, there are no recommendations in regard to exercise, and the diet itself does not promote exercise.

Works Cited:

Agatston, A. South beach diet basics. Retrieved January 15, 2007, from Prevention Magazine Web site:,5778,s1-3-86-202-2764-1,00.html

Callahan, Maureen (2004 Mar). South Beach Diet Review. Retrieved January 15, 2007, from AOL Diet & Fitness Web site:

Hawkins, K The south Beach diet. Retrieved January 15, 2007, from Changing Shape Web site:

(2007). How the south beach diet works. Retrieved January 15, 2007, from South Beach Diet Web site:

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