South Beach Diet Review
by Valerie Kirk
The South Beach Diet is a three-phase low carb diet plan that requires individuals to eliminate many simple carbs and some saturated fats.
There are two different ways to go about losing weight with the South Beach Diet:
1). The old fashioned, famous, cheaper way of doing South Beach: buying some South Beach Diet books, and doing a lot of cooking. And I mean LOTS of cooking. In fact, you'd better love cooking if you choose this option, as South Beach recipes are somewhat involved.
2) Enrolling in the South Beach meal delivery program available at SouthBeachDiet.com. The meal delivery program will save you time, but cost you money (between $300.00 and $500.00 per month, depending on the options that you choose.) You will STILL have to cook two days per week, which involves an added grocery cost.
Either way you go, the diet basically works the same way when it comes to weight loss.
The South Beach Diet Phases
Here's a brief wrap-up of what to expect in the three phases.
Phase One: Body Reboot
Phase One lasts for two weeks and bans bread, fruit, rice, dairy, pasta, baked goods, and potatoes. Alcohol is also completely off the menu. The harsh restrictions on South Beach Phase One are meant to help people kick their cravings for carbs.
Whether you opt to cook their recipes yourself, or have the meals delivered from their website's program, the food restrictions are the same.
Phase Two: Steady Weight Loss
In Phase Two, which lasts until the dieter has reached their goal weight, good carbs like fruit, grains, and low-fat dairy are reintroduced.
For most people, this is the obviously longest phase of the diet. The third phase is maintenance, if you choose to stay on it for the rest of your life.
Phase Three: Maintaining Healthy Weight
Phase Three, also known as the lifestyle phase, focuses on weight-maintenance and allows followers more indulgence. This is the time when dieters are transitioned out of the meal delivery service and have to start making diet decisions on their own.
The emphasis of the program is to decrease processed and simple carbs and to opt for lean protein, whole grains, and fiber-packed fruits and veggies. Instead of severely limiting carbs (a la Atkins), your focus is on eating the right carbs.
South Beach Diet Online
This serves as support for South Beach Diet members. You can sign up for a free one-week trial membership, and after that you’ll pay $5 per week to continue the program. Some of the more helpful features include their diet-tracking app, the Daily Meal Planner, support from an online community, and access to over 1,000 recipes.
South Beach Diet Menu
Unlike some other low carb diet plans, you can enjoy dessert on the South Beach Diet. In fact, they encourage it! Using diet-friendly ingredients like fresh fruit, South Beach desserts can keep you from feeling deprived. And good news for grazers: The South Beach Diet promotes strategic snacking. Eating this way keeps blood sugar levels stable. In addition, you’ll avoid many of the highly processed, refined carbohydrates that produce drastic spikes in blood sugar. And when blood sugar is stabilized, cravings are virtually eliminated.
A daily menu on South Beach includes three balanced meals and three snacks (morning, afternoon, and evening). You won’t go hungry on this plan thanks to the bounty of satiating protein and fiber-rich foods. While members of Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig have reported that the meals were less than filling, South Beach devotees are quick to exclaim, “I’m never hungry!”
A unique trait of the South Beach Diet is that the meals are family-friendly. You may not win points subjecting your family to the Atkins diet (“Why can’t we have macaroni and cheese or cookies, Mom? Are you punishing us?”), but your kids will hop on the South Beach bandwagon when you offer them South Beach Chipotle sauced chicken, peanut butter and chocolate bars, and chocolate caramel shake.
South Beach Diet Recipes
During Phases 1 and 2 on South Beach, even the meal delivery users have to cook their own meals two days a week. Their website has a section called The Palm, which features an impressive collection of recipes that ensure you’ll never get bored. Moroccan-spiced salmon salad, garlic and soy grilled pork chops, and chocolate-berry dessert cups are just some of your tasty options.
If you love to cook, there is an array of South Beach cookbooks to choose from (although these are no longer available on the website and can instead be purchased from Amazon and similar sites). The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook: 200 Easy Solutions for Everyday Meals is an example, featuring an impressive assortment of on-the-go foods. There’s even a cookbook (The South Beach Diet Holidays and Parties Cookbook) that addresses the subject of many a dieter’s downfall: social eating. The book puts a healthy spin on classic entertaining meals, whether it’s a family Christmas Eve supper, a Thanksgiving banquet, a summer barbeque, or even a Super Bowl party.
South Beach in the Supermarket? Yes, but not in the Frozen Food Section.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth you’ll want to dive headfirst into the South Beach line of snack and meal replacement bars available at grocery stores. With flavors like s’mores and peanut butter chocolate chip, these high protein treats can keep you on course. There’s also an ample selection of South Beach Diet-approved convenience foods such as string cheese, Triscuit crackers, nuts, and Jell-O.
Those looking for South Beach frozen meals in the supermarket will be disappointed. The South Beach line of frozen meals for supermarket distribution were discontinued several years ago, and now their prepared meals are only available from the official South Beach website.
Dining Out on South Beach
Dining out on this diet is fine as long as you avoid starchy foods like bread and potatoes. Plan on making some special requests that may drive your waiter crazy (hold the sauce, hold the bun, prepare vegetables plain, etc.), but the world is still your oyster if you want to enjoy restaurant meals on South Beach (providing you tip your waiter a little extra!)
One More Reminder about the Cooking
Cooking on this diet plan is no picnic, as many of the South Beach recipes require more than 10 ingredients, often centered on pricier protein sources like fish and steak. Even with the new meal delivery service, cooking is still vital to South Beach two days per week and some dieters may become frustrated with the level of effort involved.
What is the difference between South Beach Diet and Atkins Diet?
South Beach Diet stresses leaner cuts of meat than the bacon-is-okay philosophy that dieters have come to associate with Atkins. South Beach places a stronger emphasis on healthy fats—nuts, avocados, and heart-healthy olive oil. It is somewhat less restrictive when it comes to certain carbs than is Atkins.
The South Beach Diet's heart-health orientation may stem from that fact that it was developed by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston.
related article: South Beach vs. Atkins Diet
The Bottom Line
One major plus for The South Beach Diet is that it promotes a sustainable, long-term lifestyle that’s easy to maintain once you’ve reached your goal weight. Because indulgences are allowed on occasion, it’s a realistic plan that won’t leave dieters feeling deprived. While most people diet to get back into their skinny jeans, South Beach goes a step further and improves overall health while encouraging weight loss.
At a glance: Is the South Beach Diet for you?
• You want healthy recipes the whole family can enjoy
• You have a history of heart disease or simply want to improve your overall health
• You don’t want to count calories or carb grams
• You don’t want to give up dining out
• You entertain frequently
• Other diets have left your stomach growling
• You're a bread or pasta lover.
• You tend to overeat or have trouble determining correct portion sizes when left to your own devices
• You never have time to/ don’t like to cook
• You want in-person support or exercise guidance