You have no items in your shopping cart.
Originally designed in the 1980s by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon to help prevent heart disease, the South Beach Diet gained popularity in the early 2000s as a means to lose weight. But does the research live up to the claims, and how easy is the diet to stick to in the long term? Here we explain the theory of the diet and what it involves, and whether it can help you achieve success on your weight loss journey with Phen Caps.
Agatston had observed how patients who were advised to stick to low-fat diets in order to reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease had trouble sticking to the diet and wanted to find a solution for them. Drawing conclusions from work by David J. Jenkins on the Glycemic Index, he proposed that patients on low-fat diets were eating no less food than they had been before, but were hungrier due to consuming additional sugars and simple carbs (foods high on the glycemic index), which are rapidly reduced to sugar by the digestion process.
This excess amount of sugar leads to an over production of insulin and low blood sugar, in turn leading to increased hunger and the consumption of more sugar. Agatston was also aware of the low-carbohydrate diet popularized by Atkins in the 1970s, but feared that this diet would lead to too few carbohydrates, too much saturated fat and too little fiber. So, he developed his own diet plan instead, based around replacing ‘bad’ carbs and ‘bad’ fats with ‘good’ carbs and ‘good’ fats.
According to Agatston, it is not carbohydrates that are to blame for hunger cycles, but rather carbohydrate-rich foods that the body digests quickly, resulting in a spike in blood sugar. These foods include the heavily refined sugars and grains that make up a relatively large part of the typical Western diet, and which are eliminated by the South Beach Diet in favor of relatively unprocessed foods such as vegetables, beans and whole grains. Trans-fats and saturated fats are also discouraged; specifically, the diet replaces the fatty portions of red meat and poultry with foods rich in unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, such as lean meats, nuts, and oily fish. Like many diets, the South Beach Diet also uses phases to take the dieter from a rigid two-week diet in phase 1 to a more liberal plan of lifetime maintenance in phase 3:
|Phase||Details||Foods You Can Eat||Foods You Can't Eat|
||As Phase 1 Plus:
||In this phase you are expected to use the GI as a guide to what to eat and what not to eat - no foods are banned, you should just be more careful with high GI foods and try to choose good fats over saturated fats|
While the South Beach Diet does prohibit foods rich in simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, it cannot be considered low carb as it does not require dieters to forgo carbohydrates entirely or even measure their intake. Instead, it focuses entirely on the glycemic impact of foods, and so many vegetables are permitted even in the first phase, and complex fiber-rich carbohydrates such as brown rice and 100% whole grain bread are permitted in phase 2. Agatston sees the diet as neither low-fat nor low-carb, preferring that dieters learn to choose the right fats and the right carbs. As well as being less restrictive, the diet also does not require you to measure calories or food portions in any way.
Unfounded nutrition and health claims
The Journal of General Internal Medicine evaluated the nutrition and health claims made by the South Beach Diet book in 2006 and found that only 33% of the claims made in the book could be confirmed by findings in scientific literature, drawing the fundamental principles and potential for success of the diet into question
Potentially biased reviews
Although two studies have shown favorable results within trials for the South Beach Diet, one of these was by Agatston himself and the other was conducted by Kraft Foods, makers of the South Beach Diet food line. Therefore, in order to draw genuine conclusions about the potential effectiveness of the diet, despite largely unfounded health claims, independent trials would need to be conducted, particularly those that compare the diet to other eating plans over a significant amount of time.
Lack of calorific restrictions
While it could be seen as an advantage that the diet doesn’t involve calorie counting, this can also be a disadvantage as it places few restrictions on the amount of food eaten, which is often the downfall of many people who struggle with their weight. Although teaching people which foods to choose is essential to enabling people to eat healthily for life, there is a potential for confusion with the glycemic index.
Problems with the Glycemic Index
There is also a lot of doubt about the validity of the glycemic index, on which the diet so heavily relies to guide dieters to make good food choices. These include:
Here at Phen.com we respect that the South Beach Diet meets important criteria for a healthy diet by emphasizing vegetables, fruit, lean protein and whole grains while not omitting any major food group, however we would appreciate more information on how effective the diet is and how easy it is to follow. We can see a potential for confusion, misinterpretation of the glycemic index and accordingly, the over consumption of some foods that may have a low to medium GI, but that should be restricted by amount due to calories. And, while counting calories is not always necessary in the long term to eat healthily, calories should certainly be taken into account when establishing a degree of moderation in food consumption.
Indeed, we believe that moderation is the key to healthy eating, as most foods provide benefits to your health as part of the balanced diet which will help you reach your goal weight with Phen Caps.