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South Beach Diet


The South Beach diet, developed by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston, emphasizes the consumption of "good carbs" and "good fats." Dr. Agatston developed this diet for his cardiac patients based upon his study of scientific dieting research. The South Beach diet is most often compared to the Atkins Diet, because they both restrict the amount and/or type of carbohydrates you consume.

Dr. Agatston believes that excess consumption of so-called "bad carbohydrates", such as the rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates found in foods with a high glycemic index, impair the body's ability to properly process fat or sugar. Dr. Agatston's South Beach Diet minimizes consumption of bad fats and bad carbs and encourages increased consumption of good fats and good carbs.


The South Beach Diet has three phases. In all phases of the diet, Dr. Agatston recommends minimizing consumption of bad fats. In Phase I, lasting two weeks, dieters attempt to eliminate insulin resistance by avoiding high or moderately high-glycemic carbs, such as sugar, candy, bread, potatoes, fruit, cereals, and grains. During this phase, Dr. Agatston says the body will lose its insulin resistance, and begin to use excess body fat, causing the dieter to lose between 8 and 13 pounds.

After two weeks, Phase II begins. Whole grain foods and fruits are gradually returned to the diet, although in smaller amounts than were likely eaten before beginning the diet, and with a continued emphasis on foods with a low glycemic index. When the dieter reaches the desired weight, Phase III begins. In Phase III the diet expands to include three servings of whole grains and three servings of fruit a day.

The diet distinguishes between good and bad carbohydrates, and good and bad fats.

  • Good carbs are high in fiber or high in good fats, and have a low glycemic index, (meaning they are digested and absorbed slowly). Other preferred carbohydrates are those with more nutritional value than the alternatives. For instance, brown rice is allowed in moderation, but white rice is discouraged. When eating any carbohydrates, Dr. Agatston recommends also eating fiber or fat to slow digestion of the carbohydrates.
  • Good fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated and trans fats are bad fats.

The South Beach Diet emphasizes:

  1. a permanent change in one's way of eating;
  2. a variety of foods, and
  3. ease and flexibility.

Eating whole grains and large amounts of vegetables is encouraged, along with adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, such as are contained in fish. It discourages the eating of overly refined processed foods (particularly refined flours and sugars), high-fat meats, and saturated fats in general.

The diet does not require counting calories or limiting servings. The South Beach Diet encourages you to eat until you are satisfied. Dieters are told to eat six meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with small snacks between each meal.

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