There are various diets on the scene that promise you the ideal weight you’ve always wanted. The South Beach diet is one of them. Each diet is more or less the same, so what makes the South Beach diet different? You’re about to find out in this detailed review.

What is the South Beach Diet?

The South Beach diet was proposed in early 2003 by a medical doctor, a cardiologist, Arthur Agatston, in his best selling book, “ The South Beach Diet: the delicious, doctor-designed, foolproof plan for fast and healthy weight loss.”

It was initially a DIY diet with elaborated instructions that you could follow on your own. But since then, it has been commercialized and is now available for purchase. If you don’t want the hassle of figuring everything out for yourself, especially in the first phase, let the pros handle it. They’ll deliver prepared and portioned meals to your doorstep that you can assemble in a minute.

How does it work?

The South Beach diet has 3 phases. The first phase is the most restrictive one and requires the most effort, both physical and mental. The later phases become less restrictive until you eventually wean out of the diet. By then, you’d have acquired healthy eating habits that will help you maintain your ideal weight. Here’s how each phase works.

Phase 1

In this most restrictive and difficult phase, you’ll be forced to eliminate a number of foods you eat daily and sustain yourself on a chosen few. This is necessary to kickstart your metabolism for weight loss. Your body will adjust to the diet and start burning fats instead of carbs for fuel.

What you Cannot Eat

Let’s get the non-compliant foods out of the way. You cannot eat meat high in fat, grains and starches, fruits, alcohol, soft drinks or other beverages high in sugar as well as starchy vegetables. Not to mention that desserts are out of the question too.

  • Fatty meat includes chicken wings and legs, prime ribs, poultry with skin and duck meat.
  • Grains being high in carbohydrates are also out. These include bread, cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, rice, bagels and buns
  • Starchy vegetables are peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, beets and turnip.
  • You cannot eat all kinds of desserts, fruits and alcohol during the first phase of the South Beach diet.

What you can eat

  • There is a wide range of complaint foods that you can eat during this phase, including lean meats and poultry, non-starchy vegetables, eggs, seafood, nuts, beans and dairy products.
  • Lean meats and poultry include chicken breast, pork tenderloin, boiled ham, smoked turkey, flank steak and bacon.
  • Non-starchy vegetables that are okay to eat are lettuce, broccoli, sprouts, okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, etc.
  • Beans such as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and pinto peas as well as nuts like almonds and cashew are also compliant foods.
  • All kinds of seafood, albeit less in sodium, and eggs are also allowed in phase 1 of the South Beach diet. You can also eat dairy products but stay away from the ones labelled, “low-fat” as it contains more sugar.

Phase 2

If you’ve successfully managed to carry out Phase 1, then phase 2 should be fairly easy for you. During the second phase, you incorporate a variety of other foods in your daily diet, especially carbohydrates. You have to limit your carbs intake to a minimum and only eat the low glycemic index ones. However, this is tricky, your craving may increase upsetting your diet and causing you to gain pounds you’ve worked so hard to shed.

What you Can Eat

In addition to complaint foods from phase 1, you can also eat starchy vegetables, whole grains as well as fruits.

  • Starchy vegetables include potatoes, yams, corn, turnip and sweet potatoes
  • Whole grains like brown rice, brown non-sweetened bread, oatmeal and cereal is okay to eat too.
  • You can also eat all kinds of fruits but it is better if you stick to the ones low in fructose.

Key Note: the most important aspect of phase 2 of the South Beach diet is to limit the serving size. During the first week of phase 2, you can only eat one serving of carbohydrates. Eat one fruit a day or whole grains or starchy vegetables, etc. During the 2 weeks, increase the serving size to two and gradually increase it in the weeks following that.

What you cannot eat

Alcohol, beverages high in sugar, as well as deserts, are still off-limits in the second phase. That includes non-alcoholic beer too. However, non-sweetened tea or coffee is alright to consume but in limited serving. Two cups or one cups a day at the most. Moreover, try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.

Phase 3

If you’ve reached phase 3, it means you have lost a considerable amount of weight. You can only start Phase 3 of the South Beach diet after you’ve achieved your ideal weight. Now, the question is how to maintain it. The third phase is dedicated to that.

What you Can Eat

You can now eat everything mentioned in phase one and two, as well as more grains and variety from all food groups. Lean meats and fatty cuts of meat that you previously gave up on are okay to eat now. But make sure to keep the serving size to a minimum.

Alcohol and soft drinks are also allowed in this phase, again, with moderation.

As far as the desserts are concerned, you should stay away from them in the first few weeks of phase 3, to maintain your ideal weight, but after a while, you can enjoy them. It is better to opt for healthier alternatives and remember to keep the serving to small.

What you Cannot Eat

In this phase, you can eat everything you want since you’re likely to have acquired a healthier and more well-balanced notion of food. You now know how much serving is ideal and what foods increase your cravings.

You can avoid fast foods, such as burgers and pizzas but it is alright every once in a while.

How to plan your meals

Throughout the South Beach diet, you should eat six meals per day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, with three snacks in between. Each meal should not be more than 3 hours apart because it will make you hungry and increase your appetite.

Can you eat out?

The biggest problem with going on diets is eating out. Eating out should be avoided at all cost, however, if you have a social obligation, for example, a company dinner or a friend’s wedding, you can eat out but be healthy in your choices. Opt for lean meats, as mentioned before like chicken steak or pot tenderloin. Avoid food high in cheese or fats as well as food high in sodium. It is better to pack yourself lunch during office days too.

Is it really effective? And to what extent?

According to some research as well as the customer reviews, the South Beach diet is effective. It does help you lose weight like any other diet plan. In the first week, the change will be most noticeable, as you’ll shed 4-5 pounds. In the first month, you’re guaranteed to lose at least 12 to 14 pounds. Later on, you’ll continue to lose 1-2 pounds every week.

How long before you can see the results?

The South Beach diet is a long one. You cannot achieve your ideal weight in a month or so. However, you’ll see adequate results in the first month. The first phase should last for one month before you can move on to the next one. The second phase should continue for at least six weeks to eight weeks until you reach your goal. The third phase can continue indefinitely.

Benefits of South Beach Diet

The benefits of the South Beach diet aren’t limited to losing weight. It promotes health in people by teaching them better eating habits. Not only that, but it also affects your lifestyle overall too. Since exercising is mandatory for the diet to work, it becomes a life-long habit in dieters. It reduces the ride of diseases, most notably diabetes and heart diseases.

Side effects of taking note of

There aren’t any major side-effects to the South Beach diet, but it can cause nausea, headache and dizziness in people. This is especially true for the first phase because your body intakes considerably fewer calories. Your body needs time to adjust to the change. These symptoms go away in the later phases of this diet.


Although South Beach diet is are for all, there are some precautions to take note of. It is not for pregnant women or adolescents. You should be at least 18 to start any diet. Breast-feeding mothers and patients with diseases should consult their doctors before starting this diet. Take appropriate measures if you have any food allergies.

Where to get it?

It is not necessary to buy the South Beach Diet. You can easily do it at home by just having the book or instructions with the detailed food list. But if you want to purchase it, you can do so at the official website. They have many discount coupons and promos that you can avail.

The Verdict

The South Beach diet is one of the best diet plans for weight loss. It’s convenience is that you have control over your own food which you can freshly prepare for each meal. Since it’s basically a change in diet and lifestyle, you don’t have to take any questionable supplements for weight loss, making it safe and healthy.

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