There is a significant truth that many ignore when it comes to dieting. This truth is that the best diet is one that is balanced and sustainable. For this reason, there are no tricks or magic to the best diet for you. The USDA publishes a list of everything that you need on a daily basis. The best diet incorporates everything on this list, plus a few add-ons that are recommended by the top researchers in diets.
The best diet includes:
- Lean Protein
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Healthy Fats
- Low Sodium and Refined Sugars
- Plenty of Water
There is no smoke and mirrors when it comes to a healthy, balanced, sustainable diet. However, what happens if you want to be a little more aggressive about weight loss? What happens if you want to break the bad habits and the bad condition that your body is in? Then, you need a more aggressive diet plan.
Which diet plan among all of the hundreds of plans should you choose? Everyone knows that it is hard to keep to any diet plan. So, a plan that works for you is as good as gold.
Many people have found that the South Beach Diet Plan is a diet that they can live with. The plan is also considered by many in the know to be balanced and sustainable.
Is South Beach Diet plan the one for you?
The South Beach diet is a reduced-carb, healthy-for-the-heart diet that was founded by cardiologist Arthur Agatston in the 1990s. This doctor looked around to see what current diet plans had to offer. He noticed that there were diets that were successful in weight loss, yet they were not balanced and heart-healthy. He decided to take the positive aspects of these diets and marry them with a diet that would be sustainable, balanced, and heart-healthy.
The focus of his new diet plan would be a lower-carb regimen minus the saturated fats that were allowed on the Atkins diet. The new diet would not forbid carbs or promote ketosis. It would promote healthy carbs and lean proteins.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Diet
The diet is simple and easy to understand. It is divided into three phases. The first two phases are where the bulk of the weight is lost. The third and final phase is for maintenance.
In phase 1, you consume three meals a day. These meals consist of vegetables, lean protein, and some fats and legumes. You will also eat two snacks a day that are comprised of lean proteins and vegetables.
Foods that are permitted in phase 1 include:
- Lean Proteins
- Non-starchy Vegetables
- Monounsaturated fats
- Vegetable and Seed Oils
- Legumes (up to 1/2 cup per day)
- Sugar-free Snacks
- Sugar substitutes
- Coffee and Tea
- Vegetable Juice
- Diet Soda
Foods to avoid include:
- Fatty Proteins
- Foods with Added Sugar
- Whole Milk
- Starchy Vegetables
- Coconut Oil
You then start the second phase. You continue the second phase until your weight loss goal is achieved. The target is to lose one to two pounds per week during phase two.
The second phase is similar to the first, except that you are permitted to eat one to three servings of fruits and one to four servings of whole grains and starchy vegetables a day. Some alcohol is permitted as well.
The third phase of the diet is basically the same as the second. However, the occasional cheat meal is allowed and no foods are absolutely off limits in this final phase.
The Upsides of the South Beach Diet
1. Improves Heart Health
The real focus of the diet is to lose significant weight while also guarding the health of your heart. The latter is achieved by consuming anti-inflammatory foods, such as fish, vegetables, and healthy fats.
There are studies that indicate that switching from saturated fats to healthy fats can decrease the possibility of coronary heart disease.
One study showed that a diet high in carbohydrate can contribute to heightened levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
2. Boosts Weight Loss
There is a 2007 study with 20 subjects who followed the diet for 12 weeks. At the end of this study, the subjects dropped an average of 11 pounds and two inches of waist size.
Also, several studies have found that reduced-carb, protein-rich eating plans can be helpful in terms of reducing energy intake and boosting weight loss.
3. Reduces Hunger
One of the main attractions of the diet is that people don’t complain of hunger while they are on the diet.
Research has indicated that consuming a diet that is rich in carbohydrates can increase your levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is a bodily hormone that causes hunger.
A 2009 study found that consuming a meal that is rich in carbohydrates led to a reduction in ghrelin levels, followed by a rapid increase in levels.
The diet focuses on eating a limited amount of carbohydrates, choosing whole grains when they are consumed. These digest more slowly and aid in keeping you feeling full.
4. Normalizes Blood Sugar Levels
The diet emphasizes whole-grain, high-fiber carbohydrates. Fiber slows the uptake of glucose in the bloodstream. This stops your blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after eating. Therefore, the diet can help you normalize blood sugar.
A Penn State study found that using the diet for 12 weeks led to a decrease in fasting insulin levels.
5. Promotes Healthy Eating Patterns
You’ll find that most of the guidelines that are suggested on the diet are ones that your doctor would recommend for a generally healthy diet. The instructions are easy to follow, and the plan adds some structure to your eating patterns.
South Beach Diet Downsides
There are a few downsides to the diet. However, modifications can be made in the diet to avoid these problems, for the most part.
Coconut oil is strictly forbidden on the diet because it is a saturated fat. However, some experts praise the use of coconut oil because of its content of medium-chain fatty acids.
Also, although saturated fats have been known to be bad for your health, there are studies that indicate that they are not responsible for an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
The diet also encourages consuming vegetable oils. These are highly processed and high in omega-6 fatty acids. The fats that are nowadays recommended to be consumed in larger quantities are ones that contain omega-3 fatty acids. The truth is, however, that a simple substitution can be made here.
Also, the diet allows you to consume artificial sweeteners and diet soda. These are empty calories, and there is some question as to their health status. Again, though, you may modify the diet to prohibit the consumption of artificial sweeteners and diet soda.
Meal Plans on The South Beach Diet
Originally, the South Beach Diet was a diet plan that was contained in a book by Dr. Agatston. The book was improved and reissued in 2009. Nowadays, the company that runs the diet plan makes food that can be used on the plan. This makes the diet even more structured and easy to follow.
There are three different plans that they offer, silver, gold, and platinum.
Silver – The Cheapest Option
This is the entry-level plan. Its cost starts at $10.71 a day. This is a good option for those on a budget and are trying the plan for the first time.
When you sign up for this plan, you get a 4-week plan of fully prepared meals that are delivered straight to your door. You can either choose the “Chef’s Picks” option or your own menu at no extra charge.
Delivery is free if you sign up for auto-delivery.
Gold – The Most Popular Option
This is the most popular option that is currently offered. It combines the benefits of a budget-friendly plan with a larger menu than the silver plan.
Also, in addition to the meals that they send you, you will receive plenty of healthy snacks and shakes as well. The gold plan is priced at $12.14 per day.
Delivery is free if you sign up for auto-delivery.
Platinum – The Choice Option
The platinum plan allows you full access to their complete menu. You also will receive the snacks. The platinum plan goes for $13.21 a day.
Delivery is free if you sign up for auto-delivery.
Is the South Beach Diet a Fad Diet?
Everyone knows that there is a large group of diets out there that make promises to deliver on permanent weight loss but can’t really deliver. These are known as “fad diets.” A fad diet plays on the fantasies of unknowing people. The creators of fad diets usually promise dramatic weight loss, based upon some gimmick or trick that they supposedly have discovered.
Usually, these diets contain some type of calorie deprivation, and that is why they might work a little in the short run. What comes to haunt people who try these fad diets is that they gain all of the weight back, possibly more, after the time period of the diet lapses.
With respect to the South Beach Diet, it is not like a fad diet in one important respect: The diet has a final maintenance phase that is intended to be a permanent one. Of course, one might argue that it is truly not sustainable, but the diet does attempt to change a person’s eating habits in a permanent way.
On the other hand, one might argue that it is somewhat of a fad diet because it has not significantly been researched as of yet. There is an element of truth in this argument because newer diets have not yet had enough time to be adequately researched yet. However, this is only natural for a newer diet, simply because not enough time has yet elapsed since its creation.
So, there are arguments on both sides with respect to this. The bottom line is, though, that many health professionals, including the creator, have come out endorsing the diet as a reasonable way to keep weight off permanently. Since this is true, it would seem that it is not off-base to say that it is a reasonable choice.
How Does the Diet Compare with the Ketogenic Diet?
Since Dr. Agatston created the South Beach diet as an alternative to the Atkins diet, it would be instructive to compare the two diets with each other.
The Atkins diet is a ketogenic diet. What exactly does this mean? The ketogenic diet relies on the body going into a condition called ketosis to lose weight. The condition of ketosis is achieved by drastically cutting down the amount of carbohydrates that you consume. The ketogenic diet requires that you cut out nearly all of the carbohydrates that you are eating.
The condition of ketosis is one where the body uses a substance called ketones for energy instead of the ordinary glucose. Ketones are created from the burning of fat in your body. The basic idea of the diet is that you will be directly burning the fat in your body instead of glucose. This leads to a condition where you will be burning a lot of the excess fat that your body has.
However, the state of ketosis is an unusual condition for your body to be in. The concept of the South Beach diet is different. It demands that you lower your carbohydrate intake enough to make your body more efficient. When you lower your carbohydrate intake, it leads to better sugar and insulin levels. This, in turn, reboots your body in a way that decreases your appetite.
The South Beach diet also is very concerned about cardiovascular health. The ketogenic type of diet usually allows you to consume a lot of bad fats when you are on it. The South Beach diet regulates the kind of fats that you consume for heart health.
All in all, the South Beach diet is a much more natural way of maintaining eating habits. It is intended to be a plan where you can reach a maintenance phase that you can keep to on a permanent basis. This was Dr. Agatston’s initial idea.
How Does the South Beach Diet Compare with the Weight Watchers Diet?
The South Beach diet is a somewhat aggressive plan for weight loss. This is the case because it is divided into phases. The first phase and the second phase are not merely lifestyle changes. They are aggressive plans that work by cutting out a lot of the carbohydrates that you eat. It would be instructive to contrast the diet with a diet plan like the Weight Watchers diet plan for this reason. The Weight Watchers plan is not so much of a diet as it is a change in lifestyle. Which plan you choose depends upon whether you solely want to alter your lifestyle patterns or take an aggressive tact to lose weight in the short term.
The Weight Watchers plan is different than the South Beach diet plan in significant ways. On the Weight Watchers plan, there are no foods which are absolutely forbidden at any point during the plan. This means that you can eat foods like pizza and ice cream while still remaining on the diet. So, if you can eat high-calorie foods on the diet, then how do you lose weight?
The answer is that Weight Watchers works on a point system. While you can eat foods that are not so good for you on the plan, they take up more points. This is what discourages you from eating those foods. On the diet, you are allotted so many points a day for your food choices. On the new plan, if you don’t use up all of your points on a particular day, then you can roll them over to another day.
Weight Watchers is also known for having a great support system. There are various options that you can choose from. You can use the online tools alone. You can have one-on-one coaching sessions. You can attend the famous meetings that the program holds. You will weigh in at the meetings.
Another bonus of the Weight Watchers system is that there are a couple of hundred foods that are zero point foods. They are therefore unrestricted. Foods in this category include chicken breast, beans, and fish.
So, there are really three categories of diets that we have dealt with in this article. There are the diets that are mostly just lifestyle changes, like Weight Watchers. There are the diets that combine an aggressive jump start plus a change in lifestyle. This is the category of the South Beach diet. Lastly, there are the diets that are basically an aggressive short-term break from normal eating patterns. This category is occupied by the Atkins diet. Which diet you pick has a lot to do with your particular needs and how it fits into your lifestyle.
What is generally the case, though, is that you are going to have to make a general lifestyle change for good if you are going to keep the weight off that you have lost. For this reason, it is recommended that you choose a diet that has some sort of maintenance plan. The South Beach diet and Weight Watchers both have maintenance plans that you can live with. Therefore, it comes down to whether or not you want an aggressive kick start to your diet plan or not.
How Come You Don’t Count Calories on the South Beach Diet?
Traditional diets usually rely on some form of calorie reduction for weight loss. This is because there is a simple fact that you must burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. The problem is, though, as Dr. Agatston noticed, that people who deprive themselves by counting calories typically won’t stick to their diet in the long term. It takes the pleasure out of eating to deprive yourself.
The reason that you don’t count calories on the diet is that there is no need to do so according to the philosophy of the diet. The concept and philosophy of the diet is that you actually reduce your hunger by moderating the amount of carbs that you take in. When you control your blood sugar levels and insulin levels, your appetite will naturally decrease. This is why the first phase of the diet is known as a “reboot.” You are actually resetting your body to a healthier condition by moderating the amount of carbs that you eat and monitoring their quality.
South Beach Diet versus Nutrisystem
What a lot of people don’t realize is that both of these companies are actually owned by the same larger company. It would seem to be that that is the reason that they are so similar to each other. The question is, however, which one will work best for you?
We have already discussed the nature of the South Beach Diet. What is the Nutrisystem plan all about?
Nutrisystem combines three elements for effective weight loss:
1. Portion Control
The portions are all measured for you. There is no need to count calories or measure your own portions.
2. Balanced Nutrition
Their diet is based upon science. It is intended to keep you healthy and satisfied.
3. Frequent Meals
Eating six meals a day regulates your blood sugar levels and speeds up your metabolism.
Nutrisystem has three plan levels, just like the South Beach Diet. The difference in the plans is that there is more variety on the menu with the more expensive plans.
Each plan begins with a fast weight loss phase. It includes bars and shakes to help you retrain your eating habits.
The main difference between the two plans is that the South Beach plan is lower in carbs. The menu choices are therefore different for the two plans. You will find food items like waffles and pizza on the Nutrisystem menu. On the South Beach plan, there are a lot of egg dishes. Their lunches and dinners have more lean protein and vegetable dishes.
Also, the South Beach Diet is a phased approach. There are specific goals and differences between each of the three phases. Nutrisystem also offers plans for diabetics and vegetarians. South Beach does not.
Nutrisystem is slightly less expensive than the South Beach Diet. The South Beach Diet will cost you about one dollar per day more.
Since the two diets are so similar and are made by the same company, the choice comes down to whether or not you want to go on a lowered carb diet plan or not. It would seem that this choice should mainly depend on what you think you can keep to better. That is the bottom line when it comes to diets that are both viable.
The South Beach Diet and Exercise
While exercise is an important part of every living plan, it seems that the South Beach diet can work even if you do little or no exercise. Of course, exercise is important for a number of reasons for your health. It is important for your cardiovascular system and also with respect to the amount of calories that you will burn. You should consult with your doctor and dietician about the exact amount of exercise that your body and mind need to stay in optimal condition.
The real truth with respect to diets is that most people are not successful in the long term. Any doctor could tell you that. Therefore, it makes sense to pick a diet plan based on what is the most sustainable option for you. While there is some science to back up the fact that diets that are high in carbs are not good for you, the simple truth remains that the diet that you will be successful on is the one that you can keep to.
That being said, the South Beach diet seems to put a lot of effort into being a diet that can be sustainable. The maintenance phase allows enough flexibility that you won’t feel totally deprived of the foods that you love. It allows you to have the occasional “cheat” meal that you crave.
The South Beach Diet runs its own website where you can learn even more about their plan. You can also purchase there the meal delivery plans. When you sign up for one of their plans, you get online support as well.