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The South Beach Diet (TM) is a method of low carb weight loss developed after Dr Atkins popularized low carbohydrate dieting with his Atkins Diet. Dr Atkins’ original plan was criticized for containing too much saturated fat and not enough vegetables. Although Dr Atkins responded to this by producing a revised version of his diet in ‘Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution’, this also paved the way for other versions of low carb weight loss plans to spring up. The most popular of these for many years was the South Beach Diet.
South Beach follows the same structure as the Atkins diet with a two-week induction phase followed by an ongoing weight loss phase and finally, maintenance. However, the foods allowed in the different phases are not all the same.
The South Beach diet is based on the glycemic index of foods. This is a measure of how fast the food converts to glucose in our digestive system. Sugar and refined flour convert very fast so they are high on the glycemic index and not allowed on the South Beach low carb weight loss plan. Middle range foods are restricted and may not be allowed in the first two weeks of the plan.
So what can you eat during phase 1 of the South Beach low carb weight loss program? Lean beef, chicken and turkey breast are allowed in unlimited quantities, but fatty meats and skin are not allowed, to reduce the amount of saturated fat.
However, you can have healthy oils including olive oil and mayonnaise. You can also eat non-starchy vegetables, peas and beans, seafood, eggs, low fat cheese and a small amount of nuts. With this range of foods, the South Beach diet is probably the best low carb weight loss plan for vegetarians.
Foods not allowed during induction include regular cheese, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, alcohol, fruits and starchy vegetables. Most of these are added back in limited quantities in phase 2.
One of the best things about a low carb weight loss diet is that you can eat as much of the unlimited foods as you want. Unlike calorie controlled diets, you should never feel hungry, even in phase 1 of the program. You get to eat five times a day, with three meals and two snacks.
You may have some cravings for particular foods but these will pass after a few days. You will find it easier if you are able to clear your kitchen of the foods that you should not be eating. If others in your household still want high carb foods and snacks, keep them in a special place where you do not go.
So how much weight can you expect to lose on the South Beach diet? A lot depends on you, but people have had losses of up to 15 pounds in the two weeks of phase 1, followed by steady losses of up to 2 pounds per week on average after that.
As with all diets, your losses in the first phase will depend on what you have been eating before. If you have been following a very unhealthy diet with a lot of sugar, salt and alcohol, your body probably has a lot of retained water that will be lost quickly in the first 7-10 days of the diet, so the scales will show a big loss.
But if you have been following a healthy diet before, your losses will be less, because your body does not have that retained water to lose. If you understand this, you will not be disappointed if your loss is less than other people’s. A low carb weight loss plan could still be just as effective for you in the long term.