South Beach Diet – Does It Work?

It is a weight loss plan described by the cardiologist Arthur Agatston, in a best-seller “The South Beach Diet: Infallible plan for weight loss, delicious, fast and healthy.”

The South Beach diet is based on the restriction of carbohydrates in the diet and prohibits the consumption of potatoes, fruits, bread, cereals, rice, pasta, beets, carrots and corn during the first two weeks (induction phase).

After that, most of these foods are still restricted, but some carbohydrate consumption is allowed.

Instead of counting the grams of carbohydrates in a particular food, the South Beach diet analyzes the type of carbohydrates that the food contains.

Eating low-sugar carbohydrates, those with a low glycemic index (they do not cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall that quickly) are allowed, while carbohydrates loaded with sugar are prohibited.

During the first two weeks, it is not allowed to eat bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, baked goods, fruit, sugar or consume alcohol.

At the next level, carbohydrates are added slowly, but it is still important that the weight loss continue.

In the third phase, when the objective has been reached with respect to body weight, carbohydrates are added at the individual’s choice.

The author of the South Beach diet is the American cardiologist Arthur Agatston.

Agatston has acquired a good reputation internationally, particularly for its research in the field of cardiovascular disease imaging.

The principles of the South Beach diet are not very different from the ideology of the Atkins diet.

Despite that, Dr. Agatston has said that weight loss is not the main goal of the South Beach diet.

On the contrary, he emphasizes that the South Beach diet is destined to improve health by changing the “chemistry” of the blood.

The South Beach diet has benefited from strong marketing. South Beach in Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches, celebrities, models and handsome young people.

Many famous people have followed the South Beach diet and have given their recommendations, including former US President Bill Clinton.

The South Beach diet also received favorable reviews among professionals; It is convenient and relatively simple to implement.

The final stage of the South Beach Diet is designed to be a lifelong diet, based on eating normal foods in normal portions, following some basic guidelines.


How does the South Beach diet work?

Agatston’s theories are based on the same ideology as most other low-carb diets.

He believes that too much insulin production is a major contributor to obesity.

By reducing carbohydrate intake, there will be less fluctuations in blood sugar levels and insulin production will stabilize.

Agatston believes that the faster sugar and starch are absorbed, and the faster they enter the bloodstream, the fatter it will get.

He suggests that eating a combination of foods such as protein, fat and small amounts of carbohydrates, cause a gradual increase instead of a sudden rise in blood sugar.

Agatston makes the distinction between good and bad carbohydrates. This is based on the glycemic index (GI). GI tells you how fast 50 grams of a particular food turns into sugar.

Carbohydrates with a high GI raise blood sugar levels quickly, while low GI carbohydrates make it much slower.

Examples of high GI foods are white wheat bread, potatoes and various types of cereals.

Green vegetables, whole grains and beans are examples of foods with a low GI.


The three stages

The first stage lasts two weeks and is expected to reduce your desire for sugar and artificial starch and cause weight loss.

The goal is to reduce fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Emphasizes the consumption of foods rich in fiber and nutrients.

You can eat meat, fish, chicken, vegetable fiber, lean cheese, eggs, non-fat dairy products, healthy unsaturated fatty acids that can be found, for example, in avocado, nuts and seeds.

Use cooking oil, for example, olive oil, which contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Agatston has said that in this way he will lose between two and three kilos (4-6 pounds) in two weeks. The second step lasts much longer.

People who do not need to lose a lot of weight can skip the first step and go directly to the second level.

Here you can eat everything that is allowed in the first step and “good” carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes and green beans.

It emphasizes that you eat healthy desserts and snacks of all kinds, including dark chocolate. The goal is to continue losing weight, but no more than half a kilo (1-2 pounds) per week.

Once you reach your target weight, you must move on to the third step. The third step. Here the South Beach diet has become a way of life.

You reach this level when you reach your goal with respect to body weight. The third step, defines your diet for a longer period, preferably for life.

Here you can eat whatever you want. There are no restrictions on what type of carbohydrates you eat.

However, it is expected that the amount of carbohydrates does not exceed certain limits and its goal is not to start gaining weight.


What is the difference between the South Beach and Atkins diets?

What Atkins and South Beach have in common is that the consumption of carbohydrates is kept to a minimum.

However, Atkins is much stricter when it comes to carbohydrate amounts, while the South Beach diet places more emphasis on choosing “good” carbohydrates with a low GI rather than “bad carbs” with a high GI. Both diets warn against trans fats.

Although there are many similarities with the philosophy of South Beach and Atkins, the main difference lies in its approach to fats.

The South Beach Diet warns against the consumption of saturated fats, while Atkins explicitly supports it.

Therefore, the South Beach diet has been more easily accepted by doctors, dieticians and other specialists, as it is more in line with official recommendations on the type of fat you should prefer.
The promise

South Beach and Atkins are the celebrities of the low carb scene. But even though they share the best billing, they choose different paths to the fame of losing weight.

The key to losing weight fast and being healthy is not to eliminate all carbohydrates and fats from your diet, says cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, based in Miami and author of The South Beach Diet.

The key is to learn how to choose the right carbohydrates and the correct fats.

This approach is part of a three-step program that Agatston developed to help patients with heart disease lose weight and lower cholesterol.

By emphasizing foods that are loaded with fiber and nutrients, the South Beach Diet promises to help you quit smoking, accelerate your weight loss and maintain those unwanted pounds for life.

In the first 2 weeks, Phase 1 of the diet, you can expect to lose between 8 and 13 pounds, says Agatston.



Yes. It is a healthy approach to eating that can help you shed pounds. However, nutrition experts warn against the first restrictive phase.

There are three phases, with Phase 1 being the most restrictive: no bread, rice, potatoes, pasta or fruit.

In Phase 2, gradually add some of these foods again, then move to Phase 3 when you reach the target weight, and you stay there all your life.

For long-term success, exercise regularly as recommended in the South Beach Diet Supercharged plan.
What you can eat and what you can not

That depends on the phase in which you are. Phase 1 is the strictest and includes:

A large amount of proteins: like beef, chicken, seafood, eggs and cheese.
Some fats: including canola oil, extra virgin olive oil and avocado-
Carbohydrates with the lowest glycemic index: which include vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and eggplant.

What is out of bounds in Phase 1 are fruits, fruit juices, starchy foods, dairy products and alcohol.

In Phase 2, slowly reintroduce healthy carbohydrates into your diet: fruit, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and sweet potatoes.

Expect weight loss to decrease from 1 to 2 pounds per week, on average.

As well mentioned above, phase 3 is about maintaining your weight. There is no list of foods to follow.

At this time, you will know how to make good dietary decisions and how to get back to normal if it is exceeded once in a while.

If cravings return or deviates from your diet, the plan recommends going back to Phase 1 or 2.


Level of effort: medium

The South Beach diet should be practical and simple. It is not necessary to count calories or calculate percentages of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Your meals are of normal size.


It’s okay to fold or break the rules from time to time.

If it exceeds you in Phase 2, Agatston suggests going back to Phase 1 until you lose the weight you put on. Then go back to where you left off.

Cooking and shopping

The dishes are easy to prepare, with ingredients found in supermarkets or in most restaurants.

The plan requires snacks between meals, but they are “the kind you can throw in a briefcase or a backpack in the morning and eat on the run,” as the book says.

Food or packed meals

Yes, although you do not have to buy them.

South Beach diet foods for sale include everything from bars to smoothies.

Tickets for lunch and dinner are also available for purchase; the delivery of food is for 4 weeks in meals.



The South Beach diet does not depend on exercise to function.

But The South Beach Diet Supercharged, the updated version of Agatston’s original book, has an exercise program that includes walking and strengthening your core muscles.
Do you allow dietary restrictions or preferences?

Yes. Flexibility is one of the guiding principles of the diet.

Vegetarians and vegans

This diet is both vegetarian and vegan. Protein alternatives to lean meat include beans, legumes and soy products.

Without gluten

Gluten is not prohibited, but since you are cutting down on carbohydrates, you can get rid of those that include gluten.

You will still need to read the food labels to be sure.

Agatston has also written the South Beach Gluten Solution book and the online program to help people who are sensitive to gluten.


What else should you know?


Healthy eating can be expensive.

The South Beach Diet website offers tips for saving money, such as buying bulk foods, buying at farmers’ markets, using coupons and preparing simple meals.


South Beach Diet Online offers tools you can use to track your weight, recipes, a personalized meal plan, dinner guides and community support.

Membership is $ 4 per week, but the first 7 days are free.

Optional online membership is $ 5 per week.

Is it good for certain conditions?

Body weight can be many times healthy, and the South Beach diet is flexible enough to work in people with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

But check with your doctor before starting a new diet.


The final word

The South Beach Diet is a nutritious diet plan that offers a wide variety of delicious foods and a practical exercise plan, at least in the supercharged version.

And it depends on proven ways to lose weight: eat smart carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and lots of fiber to keep hunger at bay.

Starting a weight management program is a step towards better health. Even small weight losses can have significant health benefits.

However, because changing your diet can affect some medical conditions or interact with some medications, we would like you to share this information with your doctor before you begin.

In summary, the South Beach diet offers low-carb, low-calorie, portion-controlled snacks and snacks, which customers supplement with edible products (eg, healthy fats, lean proteins, vegetables) to achieve lower intakes. carbohydrates, low calorie diet that provides approximately 1200 – 1500 calories per day.

The first phase of the South Beach diet offers approximately 15 to 20% of the calories from carbohydrates.

The second phase of the South Beach Diet offers approximately 30 to 35% of the calories from carbohydrates.

For most clients, following the South Beach diet means that the quality of their diet will improve significantly, while their total calories are reduced.


What conditions or medications can be affected by a change in diet?

Although we do not consider these conditions to be contraindications to using the South Beach Diet, we would like to propose the following for your consideration.


    Individuals who use insulin or sulfonylurea medications will require a reduction to avoid hypoglycemia. Other medications for diabetes may also require adjustment.
We recommend that all appropriate medication adjustments be made early in the patient’s attempt to lose weight.


Supplementation with Anemia Iron is recommended. Anticoagulant medications (eg, Coumadin).
Many customers significantly increase their vegetable consumption when following the South Beach diet.
Due to the action of warfarin or other anticoagulant drugs may be affected by an increase in vitamin K in the diet.


Intentional weight loss may not be appropriate if the cancer is active.
The treatment can affect the appetite and tolerance to food.
For patients with a history of estrogen-positive tumors, the diet can be customized to limit the amount of soy if necessary.

Congestive heart failure or ischemic heart disease

Sodium restrictions may be required. Averages of <2,400 mg of sodium / day during phase 1 and <2,300 mg / day in phase 2.
Your patient can contact the Department of Dietary Services for assistance and adjust the meal plan.
Several medications used to treat this condition may interact with a change in diet.
Patients who wish to increase physical activity should have medical authorization.

Epilepsy (convulsive disorder)

The levels of phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine may vary with diet changes. Folate, B12 and vitamin.
Supplementation with vitamin C is recommended for patients taking phenytoin or phenobarbital.
Vitamin D is recommended for patients taking carbamazepine or valproic acid.
High doses of vitamin B6 can lower the seizure threshold.
Psyllium and ginseng interact with valproic acid and lithium.
Patients who require a ketogenic diet should NOT use the South Beach diet.

Digestive tract disease

Disorders of the digestive tract may be aggravated by changes in diet (especially changes in dietary fiber intake) and / or require specific dietary restrictions.


Several medications used to treat this condition may interact with a change in diet.


The intake of vitamin D and calcium may need to be adjusted to a smaller scale.
The averages of the South Beach diet are <2,400 mg of sodium / day in Phase 1 and <2,300 mg / day in Phase 2.
Restricted sodium may be necessary below 2,000 mg / day if the patient is treated with corticosteroids.


The constant intake of protein and carbohydrates is necessary to maintain consistent levels of medical drugs in the body.
Changes in caffeine intake should be avoided.


Isoniazid (INH) therapy for tuberculosis requires B6 supplementation.


What conditions or medications does a doctor’s approval require to use the South Beach diet?

History of kidney transplant

Patients must be at least 5 years after the kidney transplant and must have written approval from their nephrologist.

Inhibitors of monoamine oxidase (MAOI)

Tyramine is present in some foods in the South Beach diet and can interact with these medications to cause dangerously high blood pressure.
The dietary protein Levodopa can reduce the absorption of this medication.

Women weighing more than 400 pounds and men weighing more than 450 pounds

Those who exceed these weights should have their meal plans adjusted to adjust the amount of calories.
Due to increased morbidity associated with extreme obesity, the South Beach diet is thought to be prudent for patients above these weights to be monitored by their physician during weight loss.

What conditions are contraindicated to use the South Beach diet?

People under 18 years old.
Allergies to peanuts, soy or latex (used in food).
Anorexia or bulimia nervosa (presence or recent history).
Celiac Disease.
Body mass index less than 19 kg / m2.
Kidney Disease / Insufficiency.
Pregnant women.