This South Beach Diet Review will give you the low down on this best selling, low carb weight loss plan.
With over 5 million copies sold, there must be something in this hugely popular diet…right?
Well, yes and no. This is a diet that has many advocates and several good points, but there is a down side or two as well.
As with any popular weight loss program, the South Beach Diet does have it’s critics.
So lets cut through the hype and hyperbole in this South Beach Diet review and see what all the fuss is about…
South Beach Diet Review for Weight Loss
As well as the original book, there are now dining out guides, good fat/bad fat guides, a heart health version…and more in the pipeline, I should imagine.The South Beach Diet was developed by Dr Agatson, an American cardiologist from Florida.
The diet was developed to help his heart patients but he noticed that many of them lost a lot of weight in addition to improving their heart health.
Interestingly, the good doctor claims that the South Beach Diet isn’t a low carb diet, but instead focusses on eating the ‘right’ carbs.
We don’t want to split hairs but this looks like most low carb plans we’re familiar with and carb restrictions are severe in the first phase.
To be frank, the first phase of the South Beach Diet in particular has a lot in common with the Atkins Diet, or at least the modified Atkins. It’s perhaps a more friendly version.
The key differences are that the South Beach Diet emphasises cutting down on saturates and eating more unsaturated fats, is more generous with the carbs and recommends less protein than the Atkins.
It’s a healthier version too, we would say.
The South Beach Diet is really a version of a GI diet, restricting carbs in the early stages and then reintroducing lower GI foods as the diet progresses.
South Beach Diet Review – How Does it Work…?
Basically, the South Beach Diet follows the principles of most GI diets, so check out what we’ve said on GI and GI diets elsewhere on this site.
The diet recommends eating more low GI foods and limiting high GI foods, which is a good principle to follow to help with long term weight loss.
The diet also restricts your intake of foods high in saturated fats, fatty meats and butter for instance and recommends foods rich in heart healthy unsaturates like olive oil and peanut butter as well as fish oils…the diet recommends you eat a lot of oily fish.
There are three phases to the South Beach Diet.
In phase one, which lasts for two weeks, you eat hardly any carbs at all, eating mainly lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and other lower fat protein foods. The idea is to balance your blood sugar levels and reduce your insulin resistance.
In phase two, which you’re supposed to stay on until you’re down to your target weight, low to moderate GI foods are gradually introduced – wholegrain foods, most fruit and veg and so on.
In phase three, the weight maintenance phase that you adopt for life, “anything goes”. Well, a wide variety of foods are reintroduced, following GI diet principles.
The diet doesn’t calorie count as such, you eat as much as you need to to satisfy your appetite. The meal plans are around 1,200-1,500 calories a day we estimate. You eat three meals and a couple of snacks each day, keeping your metabolic rate ticking over.
The diet also claims you shouldn’t feel hungry, as you eat something every few hours, consuming protein and bulky, fibrous foods to fill you up.
Which is all great. So far so good with our South Beach Diet review, so what’s the downside…?
South Beach Diet Review – What are the Negatives…?
Well, we’ve a few concerns about elements of the South Beach Diet.
One of the main problems people have with following it is phase one.
The severe restrictions on your carb intake are extremely hard to follow, and whilst it’s only for two weeks, it requires a great deal of willpower.
Some people will inevitably find themselves suffering…bad breath, lacking in energy, queasy, weak…and will understandably quit.
You’re also going to be eating virtually no fruit and veg and will probably be lacking essential vitamins and minerals.
A multivitamin and mineral supplement would probably be a good idea if you’re going to follow the diet.
We would also suggest that whilst there’s an emphasis on ‘good fats’, you’ll be eating quite a bit of fat, which in the long term can lead to weight gain.
We have problems with the weight loss claims, too, as will any South Beach Diet review. Losing 8-13 lbs in the first couple of weeks is excessive and not healthy.
Whilst most of this early weight loss will be water, most experts agree that losing 2 lbs a week is the maximum healthy weight loss.
The diet also claims that you’ll lose belly fat first. Impossible, as you can’t spot reduce. You’ll lose weight from all over your body, not just from one place.
There also needs to be more emphasis on exercise, an essential component for effective and lasting weight loss.
The diet is one-size fits all, the most effective weight loss programs are personalized to the individual – their likes, dislikes, lifestyle and so on.
Whilst 1,200-1,500 calories a day would be fine for many people, large adult men for instance, will be starving on that number of calories!
Another key element of weight loss is the mental aspect. The psychology of weight gain such as negative self image, binge eating, a destructive relationship with food are all largely ignored.
It’s hard for any diet to help people to lose weight and keep it off in the long term if they don’t challenge the underlying causes of weight gain, which are often psychological and emotional.
Followers of the diet are encouraged to drink milk, which is fine if you can drink it.
However, around half the adult population have a lactose sensitivity and won’t be able to stomach much milk each day without suffering stomach discomforts, flatulence and diahorrea.
An alternative, such as soya milk would be a good idea.
South Beach Diet Review – The Bottom Line…
We’ve found a lot of positives in this South Beach Diet review – the emphasis on lower GI foods, such as wholegrain, high fibre foods, fruit and veg and so on is all good. As is the switch from saturates to unsaturated fats.
Once you get past the first phase and with a little judicious modification, this is actually a pretty good program.
No major food groups are restricted, you’ll be eating plenty of fresh, nutritious foods and essentially following healthy eating guidelines.
There are some drawbacks, though…it’s not as personalized a program as we would like and there are similar but in our minds healthier alternatives to choose from.
However, putting aside phase one and cutting through the hype, the rest of the diet has a lot to recommend it.
Our South Beach Diet review verdict? A qualified yes!