The South Beach Diet

An Alternative to Low-Fat Diets

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The South Beach Diet is a diet plan designed by cardiologist Arthur Agastson and dietician Marie Almon as an alternative to low-fat diets. Based on a simple principle, the plan replaces "bad carbs" with "good carbs" and "bad fats" with "good fats." Agatson believes that hunger cycles are triggered by carbohydrate-rich foods that the body digests quickly. The South Beack Diet eliminates these foods, including refined sugar and grains, as well as, trans-fats and saturated fats that lead to heart disease. Originally developed in the early 2000s to prevent heart disease, the diet gained popularity as a means to lose weight.


1. Diet Rule #1: Divided into 3 phases, the plan becomes progressively more liberal as dieters learn to replace bad carbs with good carbs.

2. Diet Rule #2: In Phase 1, all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, and higher-glycemic vegetables are eliminated. The phase lasts for 2 weeks. The goals are to end hunger cycles and achieve significant weight loss.

3. Diet Rule # 3: In Phase 2, weight loss continues but at a slower rate. Most fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains are reintroduced. The phase continues until the dieter meets his or her weight loss goal.

4. Diet Rule # 4: Phase 3, or the maintenance phase, lasts for life. There are no longer permitted and prohibited food lists. The dieter understands the principles of the diet and continues to follow them.


While Agatston accepted the prevailing wisdom among cardiologists that a low-fat diet would reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease, he found that, in practice, patients had a difficult time sticking to the diet. To explain this failure, he turned to the scientific work with insulin resistance which led David J. Jenkins to develop the glycemic index in the early 1980s. He concluded that excess sugar consumption led to excess insulin which led to low blood sugar which led to hunger pangs which led to the consumption of more sugar. Agaston's work teaches dieters not to forgo carbohydrates and fats completely, but to learn to choose the right fats and right carbs.

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