South Beach Diet- Will It Work for You?

Who says you have to starve yourself?

(2nd in a series of articles about diets)

Celebrities  like Oprah, Nicole Kidman, Kim Cattrall, Better Midler and  even Bill and Hilary Clinton swear by this; the South Beach diet works for them.  It may work for you, too.

The South Beach diet is not a low-carb nor a low-fat diet but mainly focuses on making the right food choices; it simply substitutes your bad carbohydrates and fats for good ones. Like any weight loss strategies, it omits certain foods from your diet but it is not that restrictive as the servings of each meal is still measured in normal size portions. The dieter eats about 5 times a day (3 main meals and snacks in the mid morning and mid afternoon) while some even eat up to 6 times a day.

Designed by Dr Agatston, a cardiologist, the South Beach diet aims to have a good long term effect to the entire body by controlling the insulin level thus preparing it to tolerate carbs better. It will eliminate the cravings for sugar and refined starches, which will eventually lead to weight loss.

The South Beach diet is divided into three phases. The first phase, where you shed about 8-13 pounds off  your weight, is the “strictest” stage and will last for two weeks. Your meals should include lean protein, like fish and other seafood; skinless white-meat poultry, and lean cuts of beef, for vegetarians-you may  substitutes tofu and beans for your meat; high-fiber veggies; reduced-fat cheeses; eggs; low-fat dairy; and healthy, unsaturated fats, like those found in nuts and seeds, avocados, extra-virgin olive and canola oils.

You also need to remove beer and wine from your diet on this phase but you can reintegrate wine back in Phase 2.

You should cut out on all bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, baked goods, fruit, candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, or sugar. These may sound like you’re cutting all your energy sources but your body will initially use up your stored body fats as its energy source.  Don’t worry because these food will slowly be reintroduced into your diet once you progress to Phase 2.

You’ll notice that with Phase 2, the weight loss is slower compared to the first phase. Phase 2 will last longer than two weeks until you reach your desired body weight, depending on how well you follow your diet and how your body reacts. On the average, you might lose around one or two pounds each week.

Phase 2 is where the good carbohydrates are slowly re-introduced into your diet. This is where the difference between good carbs and bad carbs comes in. Good carbs (food with low glycemic index) are preferred instead of the “bad carbs” because food with high glycemic index will cause a spike of glucose in your blood and will retrigger your cravings.

Examples of food with high GI index are white bread, bagel, puffed rice, instant oatmeal, short grain rice, corn flakes, carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, melon, watermelon and pineapple.

Carbs with low glycemic index include grains like barley, bulgur, buckwheat, couscous and converted rice; pasta items like linguine, fettuccine, macaroni, and white, protein-enriched, or whole-wheat spaghetti (All pasta has carbs that break down gradually and therefore releases glucose slowly into the blood stream).

Along the breads, only the multi-grain bread has low glycemic index. Fruits like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, peaches, plums, apples, pears, dried apricots, apples, oranges and grapefruit are low GI carbs.

Add a serving of a carb food to each day’s eating, closely monitoring how you feel, whether the cravings would recur. Dr. Agatston recommends that if you choose to have fruits, eat them either at lunch or dinner, as he thinks that fruit at breakfast is more likely to induce cravings.

Take note of what you eat and when cravings recur or once you start gaining weight, you could go back to phase 1 to lose  the unwanted weight.

Who says you have to starve yourself? (Photo Credit: Prevention)

When you hit your weight target, you could proceed to Phase 3. Your body  should now be accustomed to an eating plan suited for you and your cravings should be minimal. Your blood chemistry have changed which should improve your cardiovascular system.

Continue  following the principles you learned in phase 1 and 2 and you will never have to deprive yourself  for the rest of your life.

The only pit stop you’d have to hurdle with this diet is that you would need to be patient in monitoring your consumption and learning which low GI food will be suited  for your other needs such as protein , vitamins and minerals, but other than that, every thing else comes easy.

Enjoy dieting and happy eating!

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