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South Beach diet

The South Beach diet is a diet plan started by Miami, Florida area cardiologist Arthur Agatston which 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 diet first appeared in a book of the same name published by Rodale Press. The official website of the diet can be found at South Beach Diet Online.

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, creates an insulin resistance syndrome—an impairment of the hormone insulin's ability to properly process fat or sugar. In addition, he believes along with many physicians that excess consumption of "bad fats", such as saturated fat and trans fat, contributes to an increase in cardiovascular disease. To prevent these two conditions, Agatston's diet minimizes consumption of bad fats and bad carbs and encourages increased consumption of good fats and good carbs.

The diet has three phases. In all phases of the diet, Dr. Agatston recommends minimizing consumption of bad fats.


Phase I

The diet begins with Phase I, which lasts two weeks. Dieters attempt to eliminate insulin resistance by avoiding high or moderately high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as dairy, sugar, candy, bread, potatoes, fruit, cereals, and grains. During this phase, Dr. Agatston claims the body will lose its insulin resistance, and begin to use excess body fat, causing many dieters to lose between 8 and 13 pounds. For the first two weeks, dieters eat normal-size helpings of meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and nuts. This phase includes three meals a day, plus snacks, encouraging the dieter to eat until their hunger is satisfied. No alcohol is allowed (though red wine will be introduced later in small amounts). The dieter loses weight, changes body chemistry, and ends cravings for sugars and starches.

Phase I: Authorized foods

  • Beef: Lean cuts, such as sirloin (including ground), tenderloin, top round
  • Poultry (skinless): Cornish hen, turkey bacon (two slices per day), turkey and chicken breast
  • Seafood: All types of fish and shellfish (Shrimp,clams,oysters)
  • Pork: Broiled ham, Canadian Bacon, Tenderloin
  • Veal: Chop, cutlet, leg; top round
  • Lunchmeat: Fat-free or low-fat only
  • Cheese (fat-free or low fat): American, cheddar, cottage cheese (1–2% or fat-free), cream cheese substitute (dairy free), feta, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, ricotta, string
  • Nuts: Almonds (15), peanut butter (1 tsp), peanuts (20 small), pecan halves (15), pistachios (30)
  • Dairy: Milk (lowfat or nonfat), Yogurt (lowfat or nonfat PLAIN), unsweetened or sucralose sweetened soy milk.
  • Eggs: The use of eggs is not restricted unless otherwise noted by your physician. Use egg whites and egg substitute as desired
  • Tofu: Use soft, low-fat or lite varieties
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beans (black, butter, chickpeas, green, Italian, kidney, lentils, lima, pigeon, soy, split peas, wax), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce (all varieties), mushrooms (all varieties), snow peas, spinach, sprouts (alfalfa), turnips, water chestnuts, zucchini
  • Fats: Canola oil, olive oil
  • Spices and seasonings: All spices that contain no added sugar, broth, extracts (almond, vanilla, or others), horseradish sauce, I can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray, pepper (black, cayenne, red, white)
  • Sweet treats (limit to 75 calories per day): Candies (hard, sugar-free), chocolate powder (no-sugar-added), cocoa powder (baking type), sugar-free fudgsicles, sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free gum, sugar-free popsicles, sugar substitute.

Phase I: No-No foods

  • Beef: Brisket, Liver, other fatty cuts
  • Poultry: Chicken wings and legs, duck, goose, poultry products (processed)
  • Pork: honey-baked ham
  • Veal: breast
  • Cheese: Brie, edam, non-reduced fat
  • Vegetables: beets, carrots, corn, potatoes (white),potatoes (sweet),
  • Fruit: Avoid all fruits and fruit juices in Phase 1 including: Apples, apricots, berries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, peaches, pears
  • Starches and Carbs: avoid all starchy foods in Phase 1 including: bread (all types), cereal, matzo, oatmeal, rice (all types), pasta (all types), pastry and baked goods (all types)
  • Dairy: Avoid all dairy in Phase 1, including: yogurt (cup-style and frozen), ice cream, milk (low-fat, fat-free, whole), milk (soy)
  • Alcohol of any kind, including beer and wine

Phase II

After two weeks, Phase II begins. Whole grain foods, fruits and dairy products 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. Sweet potatoes are also permissible. Red wine is also allowed in the beginning of the diet.

Phase III

After the desired weight is obtained, the diet calls to move into Phase III, a maintenance phase. 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, that is, 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 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; Agatston suggests dieters eat until they are satisfied. Dieters are told to eat 6 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with small snacks between each meal. This is different from The Zone diet in that The Zone recommends (1) a proper ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, (2) "good" carbohydrates, proteins, and fats over "bad" ones, and (3) eating portion sizes that are right for your body [1].

South Beach Living packaged foods

In 2004, Kraft Foods licensed the South Beach Diet trademark for use on a line of packaged foods called South Beach Diet (being renamed South Beach Living). These products are designed to meet the requirements of the diet.


  • South Beach Diet Blog

Scientific studies

A 2004 study of the South Beach Diet by Agatston, et al., reviewed a 1998–1999 trial completed by 54 participants over the course of a year. A 2005 study of the South Beach Diet conducted by Kraft Foods was completed by 69 subjects over the course of just under three months. Both studies showed favorable results for the groups using The South Beach diet.


  • The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss by Arthur Agatston, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 1-57954-646-3
  • The South Beach Diet Cookbook: More Than 200 Delicious Recipes That Fit the Nation's Top Diet by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 1-57954-957-8
  • South Beach Diet Good Fats/Good Carbs Guide: The Complete and Easy Reference for All Your Favorite Foods by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 1-57954-958-6
  • The South Beach Diet: Good Fats Good Carbs Guide by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 0-9597087-0-7
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "South_Beach_diet". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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