South Beach Diet. What is it? "Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork." English Proverb

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In the season of sexy speedos an potential summer flings, that one beach on everybody’s mind is surely South Beach – specifically the South Beach Diet. US cardiologist Arthur Agatston fabricated the popular eating plan after observing that the low fat, high carbohydrate diet he prescribed to his patients was making them fat. Challenged to come up with a healthier alternative, he formulated a diet stressing the balance of good carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) and good fats (olive oil, canola oil, Omega-3 oil and oil found in almost all nuts). The combination he affirms, switches off our craving for carbohydrates, starches and sweets – the rascals behind our weight gain.

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Tested in clinical trials and among willing subjects in South Florida where Agatston is based, the South Beach Diet is said to help avoid heart disease and enhance blood chemistry, as well as insulin and sugar metabolism in the long term. Dramatic weight loss, however – up to 13 lbs in two weeks! – is the most anticipated effect. Such has become the diet’s appeal.

While Agatston pronounces his diet safe and flexible for a variety of medical ailments, it is always best to get your own doctor’s consent first before trying it out yourself. Then see if it works for you. You have nothing to lose but weight.

PHASE ONE. The strict two week period permits low fat sources of meat like chicken, fish and turkey, as well as less fatty cuts of pork and beef. Low fat to fat free cheese, nuts, eggs, tofu, vegetables are also allowed. Steer clear of all fruits, breads, baked goodies, rice, potatoes, pasta, sugar, and alcohol. Portion sizes are your call, but eat until you no longer feel deprived. Anticipate rapid weight loss and resist the tendency to stick to Phase one too long, as you are likely to lose muscle and bone mass, thereby burning less calories while you sleep.

PHASE TWO. Whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, red wine, and some fruits (apples, grapes, mangoes, oranges) are gradually added and included in this phase. Off limits still are white bread, white rice, potatoes, corn, carrots, and other fruits (canned fruit cocktail, fruit juices, pineapple, raisins, watermelon). Expect to lose a couple of pounds max a week.

PHASE THREE. Lean protein,high fiber carbohydrates and monounsaturated fat from olive oil and Omega-3 fatty acids are unobjectionable, as is occasional urge to “cheat” with ice cream, cakes and cookies. “We do anticipate the everybody will fall off the wagon sometimes,” says Agatston. “But by understanding the principles and varying the diet phases, you can be successful for long term and make the diet into a healthful, satisfying lifestyle, not just a diet.”

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