Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The South Beach Diet

Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist, developed the South Beach diet that is described as "neither low-fat nor low-carb". The South Beach Diet is a method to teach participants how to eat the 'right' carbs and seek out the 'right' fats. The diet plan is divided into three Phases. Phase One is a strict 14-day program where nuts, cheese, eggs and regular-sized portions of lean protein are allowed. Phase One incorporates three meals a day with mandatory snacks in an effort to ensure the dieter is not left with hunger pains and give up. This strict Phase One eliminates sweets and starches to abolish cravings for these foods from the participant. Phase Two continues until the dieter has achieved their optimal weight and includes the reintroduction of dairy foods and whole-grain breads. The final maintenance Phase Three is geared towards establishing a healthy eating lifestyle that should, ideally, be adopted by the participant for the rest of their life.

The South Beach Diet is emphatic in reminding the participant of the foods they are allowed to eat and how to avoid the foods that are best left alone. Many restaurants in Miami cater to the South Beach Diet which goes by the credo "now you can eat like a movie star- and look like one". On the South Beach Diet, eating in restaurants is permitted, snacks are mandatory and flexibility is stressed. There is an overall cutback on carbohydrates and the diet allows for sufficient fats and animal proteins contained in meats. Fish, turkey, chicken, nuts, yogurt, cheeses and milk are recommended.

Highly processed foods are, of course, eliminated. Baked goods, snacks, soft drinks and breads fall into this category. Participants are encouraged to steer away from low-fat prepared foods, as they are often prepared with additional carbohydrates.

In the three phases of the South Beach Diet, the initial phase cuts carbohydrates from the diet dramatically. The theory behind this is that when avoided, the craving for carbohydrates decreases and once they are reintroduced into the diet, the body will properly metabolize them. Phase One completely excludes alcohol, sugar, pasta, rice, fruit, bread, potatoes, fast food and baked goods from the participant's food options. After this 14 day period, pasta, cereals, fruit and bread are gradually added back into the diet but not to excess.

The South Beach Diet does not require exercise for comprehensive weight-loss within this diet plan.

Once this diet is in the maintenance phase, a wide range of foods and permission to indulge occasionally on some high-fat and high-carb foods is included in the diet plan. The South Beach Diet participants report a lower level of bad cholesterol and increase in good cholesterol when adhering to this diet. A study of 40 overweight people who participated in the South Beach Diet shows that, on average, their weight-loss was maintained at 13.6 pounds. The South Beach Diet is currently among the top five diets in the USA, with many celebrities touting their success and proving to fame-obsessed Americans that you can 'look like a movie star- and eat like one, too'.

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