The South Beach diet is a low-carb diet, developed by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston.

The South Beach diet was developed because Dr. Agatston saw that the low-fat type diet many heart patients follow, is hard to maintain and often doesn't work. He developed his own diet, which is in a way a less strict version of the Atkins diet.

How it works:
The first two weeks are the hardest. In these two weeks you will be eating NO starchy foods (rice, bread, potatoes, pasta), NO sugar or food that contains it, NO fruit, NO alcohol. On the up side, you can eat as much meat, vegetables, cheese and nuts as you like. This is phase one. In this phase you will surely lose weight, if only because you're eating no sugars at all and because all those proteins make you feel full.

In phase two, you slowly reintroduce some foods. Now you can also eat fruit, bread, potatoes, pasta... even chocolate if you like. BUT, you eat them in moderation. And you should try to stick to whole wheat varieties if possible. In phase two you will continue to lose weight, and you will continue this phase until you reach your target weight.

In the final phase, you basically eat anything you like. If everything went as it should have gone, by now you're used to eating less carbohydrates and you've gotten used to eating whole wheat stuff and using less sugar. Phase three continues for the rest of your life...

Or does it work?
The good thing about the South Beach diet is that it's relatively healthy. It wasn't thought up by a respected physician for nothing, and he developed it for the purpose of lowering cholesterol for heart patients and those with diabetes. The diet focuses on eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean fats and proteins like fish, chicken, nuts and beans. Because you stick to foods with a low glycemic index, there is less chance you will fall prey to cravings for sugar and starchy foods.

The bad thing about the diet is that it expects you to make a drastic change in your eating habits. Much as the author claims you won't go hungry, you will surely miss your normal foods. I have considered starting the diet myself, but the thought of giving up my usual breakfast of cereal and milk and fruit for even two weeks is rather daunting. Changing your lifestyle forever and giving up white sugar, flour and high fat foods(including cake, pasta, hamburger, french fries, mashed potatoes, which are the favorite foods of most overweight people) is a lot to ask. Chances are that it will be very difficult to sustain this diet in the long run.

As always, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, the sensible thing to do would be to cut back on the foods you normally eat, and try to replace simple carbs with complex, and saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Eat less, exercise more. You know.

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