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South Beach Diet

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet is a diet based primarily on the GI Diet Plan. Like the GI Diet Plan the South Beach Diet, written by Dr Agatston, it concentrates on eating the right carbohydrates at the right times.

Dr Agatston, a leading American cardiologist, originally created the South Beach diet for his heart patients. While his main aim was to improve their heart health, he discovered that as a side effect of the diet they also lost significant amounts of weight. The diet they used? A diet that Dr Agatston claim that isn't a low carb or a low fat diet but a diet plan that is based on eating the right carbs and the right fats at the right time.

How does the South Beach Diet work?

Like other Glycaemic Index based diets the South Beach Diet understands that high value glycaemic index foods result in a sharp rise in blood sugar levels and as a consequence the rapid production of insulin. It is these two factors that can contribute to increases in weight, almost by stealth.

Why? Well, rapid rises in blood sugar levels are followed by sharp dips in blood sugar level. This tricks the brain to think that you are hungry, when in actual fact your not. The sugar 'crash' then encourages the eater to find more high sugar foods as a pick me up.

Eating in this major not only increases the number of calories consumed in a given day but it causes the insulin levels to peak and trough, which in itself causes the body to hold onto sugars and store them in the form of body fats.

Low GI foods and the South Beach Diet

In contrast the low value glycaemic index foods promoted by the South Beach diet don't produce huge rises in insulin levels and nor do they create rapid rises in blood sugar levels. This means that the body doesn't store excess body fat and neither does the eater crave more and more carbohydrate foods.

Fats and the South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet also suggests that dieters should avoid saturated fats (animal fats etc) but that the diet should monounsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds and olive oil.

The South Beach Diet Plan

The South Beach Diet  includes three main phases:

Phases One - Two weeks

High GI value carbs are banned. So no sweets, bread, rice, cakes, alcohol or sugar.  In this phase the South Beach Diet plan focuses on lean meats, low fat cheese and nuts.

Phases Two - Until target weight is reached

In phases two of the South Beach Diet dieters can eat low value GI foods, including fruits, whole grain breads, brown rice, cereals and pasta.

Phases Three - Weight management

Other foods, including higher GI values foods. The aim of this phase is to reintroduce a wider variety of foods while maintaining a steady ideal weight.

Advantages of the South Beach Diet

Basing its principles firmly in the GI foods camp the South Beach Diet displays some common sense and a scientific background. Eating the right carbs at the right times has been proven to aid weight loss and weight management.

Unlike other low carb diets, namely the Atkins Diet and the Zone Diet, the South Beach Diet doesn't promote eating excess amounts of any fats. The South Beach Diet understands that high levels of animal fats can lead to heart problems including CHD. As you'd aspect for a diet written by a cardiac expert the South Beach Diet doesn't do that.

Disadvantages of the South Beach Diet

The first phase of the South Beach Diet will serverly deplete blood and muscle sugar levels without replacing them. This will leave the South Beach dieter feeling weak and may cause concentration issues - carbohydrates and sugars are the primary fuel of the brain.

By cutting carbohydrates for the two weeks of phase one of the South Beach Diet may also leave the dieter lacking in essential nutrients and fibre. This may cause side effects including:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling of sickness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea

    That said these side effects will quickly subside as soon as the initial two weeks of the South Beach Diet is completed.

    The South Beach Diet - Conclusion

    The first two weeks of the South Beach Diet aside, any diet that focuses on cutting down on saturated fats and manipulating the use of carbohydrates to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin levels is positive.

    Eliminating excess fat from the diet will have dramatic effects on the amount of consumed calories, which right away promotes weight loss. Eating low GI value foods will also regulate and suppress the dieter's appetite, allowing for further weight loss whilst not forcing the body into a starvation mode.

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