Rating the South Beach Diet: Advantages and Disadvantages
The South Beach Diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, and it was originally designed to help his patients with heart and cardiovascular problems. However, whilst his patients were on this diet, Dr. Agatston realised they also began to lose weight ... and so the South Beach Diet was born and quickly became a hit in the USA.
The South Beach Diet is far more balanced than, say, the Atkins Diet. For a start, it doesn't encourage the consumption of saturated fats.
Like other fad diets, the South Beach Diet involves cutting down radically on a particular food group ... our old friend, the carb. Although Agatston states that: "The South Beach Diet is not low carb. Nor is it low fat", dieters will see for themselves that it is actually both of these things. Carbohydrates are restricted to what Dr. Agatston calls 'good carbs'. These are carbs found in foods such as whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. The diet also encourages the consumption of unsaturated fats.
The South Beach Diet is far more balanced than, say, the Atkins Diet. For a start, it doesn't encourage the consumption of saturated fats. It also allows a higher carbohydrate intake, although this is still much lower than most people are used to.
In other words, this diet does not prohibit all carbs, but encourages the consumption of 'good carbs'. Likewise, it does not condone the consumption of all fats like the Atkins Diet, but recommends unsaturated fats that can actually be good for us.
The South Beach Diet works in three phases. The first phase is a very strict period and lasts for the initial two weeks of the diet. Here, dieters are prohibited from consuming a variety of foods, including dairy products, breads, cereals, pastries, potatoes, pasta, starchy foods, some vegetables, all fruit, and more. However, weight loss during this period is likely to be rapid - up to thirteen pounds.
The second phase of the diet is a little more lenient and dieters are able to re-introduce some of the prohibited foods from phase one. During this second phase, weight loss slows down and the phase lasts until the dieter has reached goal weight. Weight loss during this second phase normally drops to 1-2 pounds per week and should fall steadily as long as the diet is adhered to.
The third and final phase of the diet, according to Agatston, is not the phase of a diet but a new way of life which should last forever. Again, this phase re-introduces some more of the prohibited foods, although they must be eaten in moderation. Following the guidelines once this phase is reached should ensure maintenance of the weight loss.
The advantages of the South Beach Diet include: The diet is fairly balanced after the initial strict phase
The diet does not rely on high levels of saturated fat
There is no calorie or fat counting on this diet
The diet encourages regular meals and snacks
The disadvantages of the diet include: The diet is very demanding for those that are accustomed to carb-rich diets
This diet can work out to be quite expensive and time consuming
Lapsing into old eating habits may result in speedy weight gain. This has to be a new way of life.
This diet will require a great deal of willpower, especially from carb-lovers. There is always the danger of lapsing back into old eating habits and increasing carb consumption without even realising it. Dr. Agatston recommends that dieters who do lapse and end up putting some of the weight back on should immediately switch back to phase one for a short while in order to lose the excess weight again.
Like most fad diets, the South beach Diet has already amassed a celebrity following and has received mixed reviews from dieters. Many people state that it is simply an updated version of the Atkins Diet, but others claim that it is a far more balanced diet that is simply based upon the same theory. One thing that this diet undoubtedly does do is to educate dieters in eating the correct food to reduce heart disease and high cholesterol levels.
Dr Agatston also claims that the diet not only helps with long-term weight loss if followed properly, but does what it was originally developed for - decreases the chances of heart disease and cardiovascular problems in those that follow it. His recently released book, 'The South Beach Diet', provides a mine of information regarding his theories and the diet in general, as well as an impressive collection of tailored recipes for followers of this diet to try. He also lists the foods that should be avoided and enjoyed through each phase of this diet.
On the whole, the South Beach Diet is balanced and healthy. Cindy Moore, R.D., Director of Nutrition Therapy at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, stated that the South Beach Diet "...really does meet several criteria for a health-promoting diet" and that "...it appears to be scientifically based."
However, because there are no real long-term prohibitions of certain food groups (e.g. even bread is allowed back into the diet by the second and third phases) it is important that dieters ensure that they have no common food allergies such as wheat or yeast in order to gain maximum effect from the diet.
Dieters that succeed in losing weight during phase one, but then find the weight creeping back on during phases two and three may well find that they have allergies to one or more of the foods that have been re-introduced.