South Beach Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

south-beach-dietThe South Beach Diet plan was originally created by cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatston based at Mount Sinai Hospital in South Florida.

The diet was originally developed for overweight heart patients. The patients experienced excellent results, not only in their general health but they also lost weight.

Since his diet was so successful, Dr. Agatston began marketing his diet plan to the masses with the release of his book, The South Beach Diet. Recently the South Beach has evolved into a successful online diet plan filled with tools and resources to enable anyone to be successful with this healthy low carb diet.

South Beach Diet Online

Dieters interested in the South Beach Diet are first asked to complete a free diet profile in order to tailor the diet to his/her individual needs.
south beach diet

Dieters then begin working through the three phases of the South Beach Diet.

Phase 1: Start Losing Weight

The South Beach Diet begins with a somewhat restricted two-week induction phase — generally producing weight loss of 8 to 13 pounds.

In this phase most carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, and breads must be avoided. There are three meals a day and snacks — eating until your hunger is satisfied. Meats, shellfish, chicken, turkey, and fish are all on the menu – along with nuts, cheese (fat-free), eggs, salads, and vegetables.

Phase 1 eliminates all fruits.

Phase 2: Reach Your Goal

The second phase reintroduces some of the foods avoided in Phase 1 – but only sparingly. In this phase weight loss should be in the region of 1-2 pounds per week.

Dieters will be able to eat some fruit and a small amount of complex carbs. You will learn to adjust portion size and focus on foods that will satisfy with smaller servings.

Phase 3: A Diet For Life

The third phase is about living the lifestyle more than a phase – its about eating healthy foods, and maintaining weight. Most healthy foods can be added back in, but dieters should continue to avoid carb laden breads, pasta, and processed foods.

This is NOT Atkins

Although the South Beach Diet may seem similar to the Atkins diet or the Zone diet, Dr Agatston stresses it is not a strictly low-carb diet.

It’s all about balancing the good carbs against the “bad” carbs. Although when looking at the first 14-day phase – there is no doubt that this is a low-carb phase. However, the South Beach Diet is based around the Glycemic Index, and carbs are chosen according to this index.

South Beach have an on-line program that includes an 800 recipe database, and options for vegetarians. (see top right).

South Beach Food brand fits in with the diet guidelines for snacking. These prepackaged foods are available in most grocery stores.

South Beach Diet Phase 1 Meal Plan

Tomato juice, 6 oz
Scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and mushrooms
Canadian bacon, 2 slices
Decaf coffee or decaf tea with fat-free milk and sugar substitute
Part-skim mozzarella cheese stick
Chicken Caesar salad (no croutons)
Prepared Caesar dressing, 2 Tbsp
Low-fat cottage cheese (½ cup) with ½ cup chopped tomatoes and cucumbers
Mahi mahi
Oven-Roasted Vegetables
Arugula salad
Low-sugar prepared dressing
Lemon Peel Ricotta Crème

Sample Phase 2 Meal Plan

Berry smoothie (8 oz Dannon Light ‘n Fit fruit-flavored yogurt, ½ cup berries, ½ cup crushed ice, blended)
Decaf coffee or decaf tea with fat-free milk and sugar substitute
1 hard-boiled egg
Lemon Couscous Chicken
Tomato and cucumber slices
Dannon Light ‘n Fit yogurt, 4 oz
Meat Loaf
Steamed asparagus
Mushrooms sautéed in olive oil
Sliced Bermuda onion and tomato with drizzled olive oil
Sliced cantaloupe with 2 Tbsp ricotta cheese

Sample Phase 3 Meal Plan

½ grapefruit
Tex-Mex eggs (2 eggs scrambled with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and salsa)
Whole grain toast, 1 slice
Decaf coffee or decaf tea with fat-free milk and sugar substitute
Roast Beef Wrap
Grilled salmon with tomato salsa
Tossed salad (mixed greens, cucumbers, green bell peppers, cherry tomatoes)
Olive oil and vinegar to taste or 2 Tbsp low-sugar prepared dressing
Chocolate-Dipped Apricots

Look for more high protein, low carb recipes here.

Online Tools

The online version of the South Beach Diet has a multitude of tools and resoucrses exclusively available to members. Some of them include:

  1. Weight Tracker: Track your weight as you shed pounds and head towards your ideal weight.
  2. Meal Planner: Customized, easy meals that you’ll love – every day of the week.
  3. Community Message Boards: Join our huge online community of thousands of members sharing support, success, and motivation.
  4. Personal Online Journal: Record your thoughts, struggles, triumphs – and read other member’s journals.
  5. Calendar Tool: Plan your diet day-by-day.
  6. Shopping List Generator: Print out complete shopping lists from your meal planner.
  7. Answers from Dr. Agatston: Ask your own questions to Dr. Agatston and see what he says to others.
  8. Registered Dietitians: Online dietitians will give specific answers to all sorts of tough questions.
  9. Daily Newsletter: Diet news, health tips, and inspiration in your inbox every day.
  10. Beach Buddies Program: Get matched with another member and diet together: teamwork makes for great successes!
  11. Food guides: From fast food to fine dining, the South Beach Diet™ has options for everyone.
  12. Huge Recipe Database: Search hundreds of delicious recipes, all designed to help you start shedding weight.

A Healthier Low Carb Diet

The South Beach Diet is nutritionally sound, however the more expensive food items could make the cost difficult to meet for some. Unfortunately good nutritious foods do tend to cost more than their highly-processed counterparts.

The principles of eating in balance, little-and-often, low-GI carbs are all included in the South Beach. Despite some feeling that the diet is a fad, and has had a major positive impact on the eating habits of millions.


The Original

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

South Beach Wake-Up Call

Dr. Agatston says that this book is intended to be a wake up call and he wants his readers to be alert educated and aware. He explains how the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases is related to an excessive intake of fast and processed foods.

He then outlines how we evolved to eat a diet that was very different, being based on fruits, vegetables, wild game and seafood.

The South Beach Wake-Up Program is based on seven strategies:

  1. Control the Clutter, Free Your Mind
  2. Make Every Meal Matter
  3. Shop Right
  4. Cook As If Your Life Depends on It
  5. Eat In More, Dine Out Smart
  6. Get Moving, Get Fit
  7. Sleep Better, Live Longer

The actual diet includes three phases. Dieters commence in phase one – which is the lowest in carbohydrates – and then move into phase two where foods such as fruits, whole-grain breads, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are gradually reintroduced.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

South Beach Supercharged

south-beach-diet-superchargedThe diet is basically the same as that outlined in the original South Beach Diet with some extra foods allowed. Agatston says that he updated the diet to allow for greater flexibility based on feedback from his patients and on his website.

As with the original diet it involves three phases and promotes the intake of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. In the first phase carbs are dramatically limited to so as to reduce cravings. In the second and third phases the amount of low glycemic carbs are gradually increased.

The main difference with the new Supercharged plan is the inclusion of 20 minutes of a specific type of exercise called ‘interval training’ that Agatston claims will speed up metabolism, increase the rate of weight loss and improve general health. He states that interval training allows dieters to achieve maximum results with a minimum time commitment.

Interval training burns more calories than other forms of exercise, which is why 20 minutes is enough in order to achieve successful weight loss results. Other forms of exercise may require one hour of activity in order to produce a similar effect.

In addition to the emphasis on exercise the updated version of the South Beach Diet includes extra menu plans and 40 new recipes.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

  • Chalasani, S., & Fischer, J. (2008). South Beach Diet associated ketoacidosis: a case report. J Med Case Reports, 2, 45. link
  • Hayes, M. R., Miller, C. K., Ulbrecht, J. S., Mauger, J. L., Parker-Klees, L., Gutschall, M. D., … & Covasa, M. (2007). A carbohydrate-restricted diet alters gut peptides and adiposity signals in men and women with metabolic syndrome. The Journal of nutrition, 137(8), 1944-1950. link
  • Astrup, A. (2005). The satiating power of protein—a key to obesity prevention?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 82(1), 1-2. link
  • Agatston, A. (2003). the South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-designed, foolproof plan for fast and healthy weight loss. Rodale, Inc., New York.
  • Johnstone, A. M., Horgan, G. W., Murison, S. D., Bremner, D. M., & Lobley, G. E. (2008). Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(1), 44-55. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: October 30, 2017. Disclaimer


  1. Claudia

    I’ve been on this plan for almost 2 years(I call it a plan because it doesn’t feel like you’re dieting even after a long time). On the first and second phases I lost 16 pounds and reached my goal weight. Now, I’m just maintaining and if I ever feel I’m slipping off a little I go back to phase 1 and loose the excess in 1 or 2 weeks. Very nutritious and the meal plans are great. I follow it to the letter and never complain about variety. There’s plenty of dishes, and you can easily order out following the guidelines. I really like it.

  2. Bobbysox

    I am trying to get more info on the South Beach Diet Plan. I do not know anyone that has tried it. I can’t find the cost of this plan. Is there anyone that can tell me the total cost. Thanks

  3. StephiStephsStuff

    I tried this and lost 7 pounds in a month. Unfortunately, I did not continue the diet after a snow storm left me at a friends house for two days. I should’ve started over and I keep finding one reason or another not to start again. Diets are hard and you definitely have to commit yourself to eating better, in general, in order for you to have success with it. I am currently reading Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman and after I am finished reading the book I am going to begin that plan. It sounds harder than any other plan, but the benefits sound remarkable and I would love to be thinner and also healthier.

  4. Ty

    I love the South beach. it has trully changed the way I eat and how I think of food. As a server I will working while regular people would be eating dinner. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat for 7to 8 hours. Then when I would get off work at 1 am and eat fast food b/c they were the only places open. South beach encouraged me to eat as a way to maintain energy and balanced, not starve myself to the point where I would binge on digusting food. The first two weeks took a little adjusting to( of course!) but then I started getting to the point where I wouldn’t crave the usual high carb high fat foods I lived off of before. Not to mention the benefits for my skin. With omitting fats, carbs, and sugars from my diet, my skin cleared and became more firm! I definitely recommend thus diet for someone who just dosen’t want to lose pounds but wants to make a lifetime change:)

  5. blondesoprano

    I first tried this diet about 6 years ago. My mom and I did it together and were very successful in losing a lot of weight. I had two more pregnancies after that, as well as some stressful times when I overate and made bad health choices in general.

    I got back on the wagon when my youngest child was one, back in 2007. At that time, I lost about 25 pounds over the course of 4 months. The most amazing thing to me is that, even though holidays came and went and I didn’t always make perfect choices, I still managed to keep the 20 pounds off for 2 years.

    I restarted fresh just before Halloween 2009 on this diet, and even with cheating for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve still managed to lose 13 pounds and keep it off in the last 3 months.

    I”ve also upped my activity level a lot, “jazzercizing” about 4 times/week, so my muscle mass is increasing, and I realize the pounds are going to slip off slowly because of that.

    I have about 60 pounds still to lose to be at my ideal weight with a healthy BMI, but: sticking with this diet, esp the intelligent Phase II part of it, along with regular exercise, and losing a modest 1.5 pounds per week… I’ll get there by the end of the year!

    Good luck all you dieters out there! It can cost a bit more to start with, definitely requires more time chopping veggies and prepping ingredients, but it’s delicious and not really that hard to stick with, and the results can be permanent if you incorporate the principles into your daily life-time eating habits!

  6. casce

    The cookbook that is available is excellent, as are the recipes in the diet. I have never followed the diet per say, but use the recipes often. I.e. try the Hummus in the South Beach Diet book (page 178). We added more lemon juice and spices and doubled the onion and it is amazing and low cal..served with sliced cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper. Stuffed mushroons are good too, if you add some onions and a bit of spices. Be creative and have fun and lose weight.

  7. Glen

    I recommend the South Beach and small variations to all my personal training clients. This will work for everyone who tries it. You need to look at all the similarities of each diet. Moderate to lower carbohydrates. Variety of foods. Moderate to lower fat sources, and Lean proteins. Each diet besides the tapeworm can be useful in some way as a whole. Not one is right, not all are wrong. Just like Bruce Lee said, “Absorb what is useful, Reject what is useless.”

  8. Phillip

    I would recommend this diet for any one your diet needs 1500 to 1600 calories per day.

  9. sonam

    iam on south beach diet from 5 days with out doing any exercise, i have not lost even a single gram.can anyone advice me why it is so??????????IF I CAN do kapalbharti along with this diet?

  10. Yoli

    I did this diet…. and lost 11lbs in just two weeks which was phase one… I need to get started on this diet again!

  11. Maggie

    i’ve just finished the atkins induction. would it be any different if i pick up on south beach after that? the induction phase seems the same but i’m not sure.

  12. Cyn

    It’s not too bad, I used it about 2 years ago and lost 15 lbs but found it a little expensive at times.

  13. natalie and michelle

    me and my friend natalie were doin a sereach project on this diet we both are ocnvinced and want to try this diet. will report results later.thanks evryone for thier comments byee

  14. Jon Siegal

    i love this diet, i lost 76 pounds!!!! its great

  15. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Dr. Agatston’s theory to explain overweight is that we eat too many sugars and starches. The detrimental carbohydrates are concentrated sugars—such as soft drinks, some fruits, and commercial fruit juices—and over-processed low-fiber starches, such as enriched white flour and white rice. These are his “bad carbs.”

    According to his theory, bad carbs increase insulin levels sharply, leading to increased fat storage (especially abdominal fat) and increased cravings for carbohydrate as the insulin eventually causes abnormally low blood sugar levels a few hours after the carb intake. Then you eat more carbs to raise your sugar level back to normal. Dr. Agatston spends much time explaining the glycemic index, a measure of how rapid and high a spike in blood sugar is seen after ingestion of particular foods.

    This “bad carb” theory is not original or exclusive to Dr. Agatston. Remember “Sugar Busters”? The “bad carb” theory has been popular since around the turn of the century, even though Dr. Robert C. Atkins and others wrote about it many years earlier.

    Figuring less prominently in Dr. Agatston’s scheme are his “bad fats”—saturated fats and trans fats. Some of the “good fats” to eat are olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and omega-3 fatty acids.

    The author had intended to produce a diet with few rules, yet he tells you exactly what and when you will eat for 6 straight weeks. The recipes are prepared from readily available ingredients. How much do you eat? “The meals should be of normal size—enough to satisfy your hunger, but no more than that.” So the author never says how many calories you will eat. Although he says it is not a low-carb diet, it is. Especially the first four weeks.

    Strongest points?

    * The composition of South Beach is generally reasonable and would tend to improve health and longevity while controlling weight, compared to the usual Western developed-world diet.
    * The recipes look tasty and relatively easy.
    * High-fiber, minimally processed carbohydrates are indeed healthier than pure sugars and refined starches.
    * Plenty of people say it has worked for them.
    * Food variety.
    * South Beach is an improvement over Atkins, especially to the extent that the author moves Atkins toward a Mediterranean-style diet. [By the way, Agatston never claims his diet is Mediterranean.]

    Weakest points?

    * Six weeks of prescribed eating, leaving no room for flexibility.
    * Exercise is recommended—essentially a brisk walk for 20 minutes daily—but is not stressed nearly enough.
    * There is certainly no scientific consensus that sugars and starches—“bad carbs”—have caused our obesity epidemic.
    * There in no reference section and very few references are given. You cannot read for yourself the scientific journal articles, if any, that support the author’s opinions.

    An improvement to South Beach would move it further away from Atkins and even closer to the time-honored healthy Mediterranean diet of the mid-20th century, in which more “good carbs” and fewer proteins would be encouraged. And myriad benefits of exercise should not be taken lightly.

    Steve Parker, M.D.