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South Beach Diet

The South Beach diet, developed by a cardiologist, Arthur Agatston, practicing in the Miami, Florida area, emphasizes the consumption of both "good carbs" and "good fats." The diet first appeared in a book of the same name, published by Rodale Press.

The South Beach diet is often incorrectly compared to the Atkins diet (see Atkins Nutritional Approach), which is predominately a low-carbohydrate diet. Dr. Agatson, however, developed this diet for his cardiac patients based upon his own in-depth study of scientific dieting research. His studies found that excess consumption of so-called "bad carbohydrates" (carbs) creates an "insulin resistance" syndrome—an impairment of the hormone insulin's ability to properly process body fat or sugar. His study also confirmed the now commonly known idea, that excess consumption of "bad fats" contributes to an increased cardiovascular disease. To fight these detriments, the latest research shows the need to minimize consumption of both "bad fat" and "bad carbs," and to increase consumption of both "good carbs" and "good fats."

In all phases of the diet, Dr. Agatston recommends to minimize the consumption of all "bad fats." In Phase I, lasting two weeks, dieters attempt to eliminate insulin resitance by not eating any moderately high or high glycemic carbs—sugar, candy, bread, potatoes, grains, or fruits. During Phase I, the body will lose its insulin resistance, and begin to use excess body fat, causing the dieter to lose between 8 and 13 pounds. After two weeks, Phase II begins, wherein whole grain foods and fruits are gradually returned to the diet, although in smaller amounts than were likely eaten before beginning the diet, and with a continued emphasis on foods with a low glycemic index. When the dieter reaches the desired weight, marking the end of Phase II and the beginning of Phase III, the diet should include three servings of whole grains and three servings of fruit a day.

The diet distinguishes between good and bad carbohydrates, and good and bad fats.

"Good carbs" are high in fiber, and/or good fats, and have a low glycemic index, that is, they are digested and absorbed slowly. Other preferred carbohydrates are ones that have more nutritional value than the alternatives (i.e., brown rice is allowed in moderation, but white rice is discouraged). Eating fiber or fat with carbohydrates will slow their digestion.

"Good fats" are unsaturated and monounsaturated fats, non-trans fat, especially those with omega-3 fat. Saturated and trans fats are bad.

This diet emphasizes (1) making a permanent change in one's way of eating, (2) eating a variety of foods, and (3) being easy and flexible to use. It suggests whole grains and large amounts of vegetables, along with adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 oils. It discourages the eating of overly refined foods, particularly refined flours and sugars, high fat meats and saturated fats. The diet does not count calories or servings, nor does it require journaling. For maximum flexibility, the more strict Phase I may be reinstituted any time a person develops cravings for foods or is gaining weight.

In 2004, a deal was made between Kraft Foods and Dr. Agatson wherein Kraft would begin producing a variety of foods that met the requirements of the South Beach Diet. There is some concern that this will lead to the same kind of situation as products approved by the corporation associated with the Atkins' Diet — that some products will most certainly fall outside the scope of the diet.


The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss by Arthur Agatston, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 1579546463

The South Beach Diet Cookbook: More than 200 Delicious Recipes That Fit the Nation's Top Diet by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 1579549578

South Beach Diet Good Fats/Good Carbs Guide: The Complete and Easy Reference for All Your Favorite Foods by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 1579549586

The South Beach Diet: Good Fats Good Carbs Guide by Arthur Agatston 2004 ISBN 0959708707

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