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The South Beach diet is a diet plan started by Miami, Florida, area cardiologist Arthur Agatston, a graduate of New York University, which emphasizes the consumption of "good carbohydrates" and "good fats". Dr. Agatston developed this diet for his cardiac patients based upon his study of scientific dieting research. The diet first appeared in a book of the same name published by Rodale Press.

Dr. Agatston believes that excess consumption of so-called "bad carbohydrates", such as the rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates found in foods with a high glycemic index, creates an insulin resistance syndrome�an impairment of the hormone insulin's ability to properly process fat or sugar. In addition, he believes along with many physicians that excess consumption of "bad fats", such as saturated fat and trans fat, contributes to an increase in cardiovascular disease. To prevent these two conditions, Agatston's diet minimizes consumption of bad fats and bad carbohydrates and encourages increased consumption of good fats and good carbohydrates.

The diet has three phases. In all phases of the diet, Dr. Agatston recommends minimizing consumption of bad fats.

Phase I

The diet begins with Phase 1, which lasts two weeks. Dieters attempt to eliminate insulin resistance by avoiding high or moderately high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as dairy, sugar, candy, bread, potatoes, fruit, cereals, and grains. During this phase, Dr. Agatston claims the body will lose its insulin resistance, and begin to use excess body fat, causing many dieters to lose between 8 and 13 pounds. For the first two weeks, dieters eat normal-size helpings of meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and nuts. This phase includes three meals a day, plus snacks, encouraging the dieter to eat until their hunger is satisfied. No alcohol is allowed (though red wine will be introduced later in small amounts). The dieter loses weight, changes body chemistry, and ends cravings for sugars and starches.

Phase I: Authorized foods

  • Beef: Lean cuts, such as sirloin (including ground), tenderloin, top round
  • Poultry: Cornish hen, turkey bacon (two slices per day), turkey and chicken breast
  • Seafood: All types of fish and shellfish (Shrimp,clams,oysters)
  • Pork: Broiled ham, Canadian Bacon, Tenderloin
  • Veal: Chop, cutlet, leg; top round
  • Lunchmeat: Fat-free or low-fat only
  • Cheese (fat-free or low fat): American, cheddar, cottage cheese (1�2% or fat-free), cream cheese substitute (dairy free), feta, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, ricotta, string
  • Nuts: Almonds (15), peanut butter (2 tbsp), peanuts (20 small), pecan halves (15), pistachios (30)
  • Eggs: The use of eggs is not restricted unless otherwise noted by your physician. Use egg whites and egg substitute as desired
  • Tofu: Use soft, low-fat or lite varieties
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beans (black, butter, chickpeas, green, Italian, kidney, lentils, lima, pigeon, soy, split peas, wax), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, pickles (dill, or those sweetened with Splenda), eggplant, lettuce (all varieties), mushrooms (all varieties), spinach, sprouts (alfalfa), turnips, water chestnuts, zucchini, radishes
  • Fats: Canola oil, olive oil
  • Dairy: Two cups of nonfat milk or nonfat or lowfat plain yogurt are to be consumed daily
  • Spices and seasonings: All spices that contain no added sugar, broth, extracts (almond, vanilla, or others), horseradish sauce, I can't Believe It's Not Butter! spray, pepper (black, cayenne, red, white)
  • Sweet treats (limit to 75 calories per day): Candies (hard, sugar-free), chocolate powder (no-sugar-added), cocoa powder (baking type), sugar-free fudgsicles, sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free gum, sugar-free popsicles, sugar substitute.
  • Hot Sauce
  • Salsa - Limit to 2 TBS during phase 1
  • Soy Sauce - 1/2 TBS
  • Steak Sauce - 1/2 TBS
  • Worcestershire Sauce - 1 TBS
  • Whipped Topping (Light) - 2 TBS

Phase I: Foods to avoid

  • Beef: Brisket, Liver, other fatty cuts
  • Poultry: Chicken wings and legs, duck, goose, poultry products (processed)
  • Pork: honey-baked ham
  • Veal: breast
  • Cheese: Brie, edam, non-reduced fat
  • Vegetables: beets, corn, carrots, potatoes (white),potatoes (sweet), green peas
  • Fruit: Avoid all fruits and fruit juices in Phase 1 including: Apples, apricots, berries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, peaches, pears
  • Starches and Carbohydrates: avoid all starchy foods in Phase 1 including: bread (all types), cereal, matzo, oatmeal, rice (all types), pasta (all types), pastry and baked goods (all types)
  • Alcohol of any kind, including beer and wine
  • No regular ketchup or cocktail sauce
  • No pork rinds - too high in saturated fat
  • No jerky - too high in sugar content
  • Limit Caffeine-Containing Beverages to 1-2 servings per day

Phase II

After two weeks, Phase II begins. Whole grain foods, fruits and dairy products 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. Sweet potatoes are also now permissible, as is red wine, both in moderate amounts.

Phase III

After the desired weight is obtained, the diet calls to move into Phase III, a maintenance phase. In Phase III the diet expands to 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 carbohydrates" are high in fiber or high in good fats, and have a low glycemic index, that is, they are digested and absorbed slowly. Other preferred carbohydrates are those with more nutritional value than the alternatives. For instance, brown rice is allowed in moderation, but white rice is discouraged. When eating any carbohydrates, Dr. Agatston recommends also eating fiber or fat to slow digestion of the carbohydrates.
  • "Good fats" are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated and trans fats are bad fats.

The diet emphasizes (1) a permanent change in one's way of eating, (2) a variety of foods, and (3) ease and flexibility. Eating whole grains and large amounts of vegetables is encouraged, along with adequate amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, such as are contained in fish. It discourages the eating of overly refined processed foods (particularly refined flours and sugars), high-fat meats, and saturated fats in general.

The diet does not require counting calories or limiting servings; Agatston suggests dieters eat until they are satisfied. Dieters are told to eat 6 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with small snacks between each meal. This is different from The Zone diet in that The Zone recommends (1) a proper ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, (2) "good" carbohydrates, proteins, and fats over "bad" ones, and (3) eating portion sizes that are right for your body.

South Beach Diet Books

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