Skip to comments.Move over Atkins: the South Beach Diet is Hot, Hot Hot!
Posted on 06/17/2003 8:46:37 AM PDT by sinkspur
The South Beach Diet produces rapid weight loss without counting carbs, fats, or calories.
It started out simply enough. Arthur Agatston, MD, a cardiologist, decided to develop an eating plan that would improve the cholesterol and insulin levels of his patients with heart disease. Now, the South Beach diet has grown into something much bigger. That's because the plan Agatston created not only improves cholesterol and insulin levels, but it also has helped many people lose weight.
"We've had people lose anywhere from five to 100 pounds on the diet," says Agatston, who is director of the Mount Sinai Cardiac Prevention Center in Miami Beach, Fla. "That's great, but what it really is good at is improving heart patients' lipid profiles."
In clinical trials, people on the South Beach diet see dramatic reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol. And they do so without much calorie counting.
Agatston's book about his plan, The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss, has become a best seller and it appears to be poised to overtake the controversial Atkins diet in popularity.
"My medical orientation has always been in prevention," he says. "The diet grew out of the frustration in seeing more and more patients becoming obese, having metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and all the heart disease associated with those conditions."
Despite the South Beach diet's glitzy title, Agatston's research and inventiveness is well respected in cardiology circles. Among other achievements, he is one of the developers of the electron beam tomography scan, or EBT, a screening method used to detect coronary artery disease and other diseases. EBT scans for this purpose are given a score on the "Agatston Scale," to gauge the severity of the disease.
"This plan really does meet several criteria for a health-promoting diet," says Cindy Moore, RD, a director of nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). "It appears to be scientifically based. It is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, and it doesn't omit any major food groups."
So what is the South Beach diet all about?
In the first phase of the South Beach diet, which lasts two weeks, you eat normal-sized helpings of lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish. Vegetables are also allowed, as are nuts, cheese, and eggs. A salad with real olive oil dressing is fine. Coffee and tea are OK, and lots and lots of water is required.
The Atkins diet differs in that carbohydrates are severely restricted during the initial phase. The South Beach diet instead groups "good" and "bad" carbohydrates based on their glycemic index, a measure of how foods affaect your blood sugar.
"The goal is to eat three balanced meals a day, and to eat enough so that you don't feel hungry all the time," Agatston says.
Forbidden in those first 14 days, however, are fruit, bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, or baked goods. No sugar, ice cream, cookies, or cake. And no alcoholic drinks of any kind (wine, fruit and whole-grain breads may be added back to the diet in subsequent phases).
Highly processed carbohydrates cause a cycle of overeating, says Agatston. White bread, for example, is digested quickly, resulting in a spike in insulin levels. Once the carbohydrates are used up, he says, you're left with too much circulating insulin, which causes your body to crave more food. Eating simple carbohydrates makes you want to eat more simple carbohydrates, and in the process, you gain weight, disrupt your lipid levels, and expose your cardiovascular system to unnecessary stress.
A typical South Beach diet breakfast is two eggs and lean bacon. Lunch is salad greens with grilled chicken. A small amount of dry-roasted nuts makes up an afternoon snack. Dinner is lean meat again with fiber-rich vegetables. Cheese and low-fat yogurt are allowed, as is sugar-free gelatin for dessert.
According to Agatston, at the end of two weeks, most South Beach dieters are eight to 14 pounds lighter. He says the weight loss doesn't happen because you're eating less, but rather because eliminating simple carbohydrates has broken a bad eating cycle. As a result, you'll continue to lose weight after the initial two-week period ends.
"I would like to see more backing to that specific weight-loss claim," says Moore, of the ADA. "While the first two weeks are heavy on protein, I'm not convinced that dropping carbohydrates would be enough to induce ketosis."
It's a well-established fact that rapid weight loss can be achieved when your body does not have carbohydrates to digest. This state is called ketosis.
Moore adds that despite the many positive aspects of Agatston's South Beach diet, you would be wise to work closely with a registered dietitian or your doctor with any diet that induces ketosis because the body is shedding water and, according to Moore, this might cause an electrolyte imbalance without proper hydration.
The second phase is similar to the first phase, but you'll start to reintroduce some of the banned foods. You can start eating high-fiber carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads, which raise your insulin levels in a much milder way that do simple, starchy carbs.
"We don't want prolonged, severe weight loss," says Agatston. "You stay on the second phase only until you reach your goal weight."
The third phase of the South Beach diet is really all about weight maintenance, which Agatston describes as a "way of life." Should your weight begin to climb, you simply repeat the process.
"What's become clear recently is that the epidemic of obesity is caused partly by government health organizations promoting a carbohydrate-rich, low-fat diet, the kind you see in developing countries like China," says Agatston. "But those recommendations are based on people eating very high-fiber diets with low protein."
In the U.S., a carbohydrate-rich diet translates into lots of highly processed, low-fiber carbohydrates.
"The food we eat has often already been digested in the factory," says Agatston. "Eating white bread is like eating table sugar."
Though Moore agrees that the South Beach diet can be healthy, she reiterates the need for dieters to see a dietitian before trying it.
"The skill of a dietitian is to work within the parameters of what an individual needs," she says. "It's fine to use this diet for weight loss, but no diet fits everybody. For that reason, you need to work with someone to make sure the general diet is tailored to your particular body."
There is no doubt that low carb diets with no processed carbs are much healthier and will keep the weight off.
The best thing about them is no hunger!
Thats the same thing I thought...and Atkins WORKS!
That is definitely NOT the "South Beach" diet...
Yep. But hey, it worked for the guy who "invented" The Zone diet, which is pretty much identical to this.
Mrs. Gridlock is having some issues with Atkins. Maybe this one would be more to her liking.
Now, what did they mean by lean bacon?
My question is, would a low carb diet bring about the same results - it would just take longer? In other words, is the first stage of the diet just to give you the immediate gratification of dramatic weight loss?
Atkins preaches that reaching ketosis is essential to the success of his diet.
I never bothered with ketosis; doing it right requires buying strips and testing urine and other such nonsense. Also, you get really constipated and your breath smells awful.
This South Beach Diet is modified Atkins, and it seems to work just as well.
Red Meat May Be Key to High-Protein Diet
Women With High Triglycerides Lost 25% More Weight on Red-Meat Diet
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Medical News on Friday, May 09, 2003
May 9, 2003 -- Carnivores, rejoice! Red meat might be key to your high-protein diet. That's the finding from a new study, presented at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
"This is not the Atkins diet," says lead investigator Manny Noakes, PhD, a research dietitian with the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization in Adelaide, Australia. "This is a high-protein diet, but it includes more fruits and vegetables than Atkins," she tells WebMD.
The Atkins Diet, which has drawn criticism from dietitians, is a high-protein diet but allows few carbohydrates (at least in the first few weeks). Later, dieters are allowed to gradually add in limited amounts of fruits and vegetables. Atkins allows too much saturated fat and is too skimpy on fruits and vegetables, many dietitians say, but research has shown that people on the Atkins diet do lose weight without upping their cholesterol.
In their study, Noakes and colleagues set out to analyze red meat's effects -- very lean red meat, that is -- on risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, she explains. However, the results turned up a surprising conclusion.
But first the data: 100 women were enrolled in the study -- all overweight, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 33. For 12 weeks, half the women ate a high-protein diet of 34% protein, 46% carbohydrate, and 20% fat. The other half ate a high-carbohydrate diet that was 17% protein, 64% carbohydrate, and 20% fat.
Each diet consisted of about 1, 340 calories, and protein in both diets was from lean red meat.
After 12 weeks, both groups lost weight -- but some of the high-protein-diet women lost substantially more weight. Those women who had triglyceride levels higher than 133 mg/dL -- a fat in the blood -- at the study's beginning lost 25% more weight, reports Noakes. At the study's end, the high-meat eaters also had 22% lower levels of triglycerides, she says. High triglyceride levels are often seen in people at risk for diabetes.
Other measures of health -- "good" HDL and "bad" LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and fasting insulin levels -- fell in both groups.
"You can lose weight in lots of different ways," Noakes says. "But certain people might do better on a certain dietary pattern with less carbohydrates, more protein. They will feel less hungry, be able to tolerate eating less for longer periods of time. We find that's generally true of high-protein diets."
Whether or not you have high triglyceride levels in your blood, this type of red-meat, high-protein diet might work for you, she adds. "It's whether or not a particular pattern suits you. A high carbohydrate diet -- rice, pasta, fruit, vegetables -- hasn't always worked for people. There are lots of strategies to lose weight, and this is one of them."
"Younger women may be especially interested in the high-protein diet, since it has lots of calcium and iron, and provides lots of micronutrients," Noakes adds. "We believe that a higher-protein pattern is more nutrient rich and may in fact be a diet of choice for women who are trying to lose weight."
Noakes' high-protein diet is certainly healthy, says Kathleen Zelman, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). In fact, the carbohydrates, protein, and fats in both diets that Noakes tested are within approved ranges set by the ADA and the National Academy of Sciences, she tells WebMD.
"We're not talking Atkins," says Zelman. "These are within normal limits."
Other studies have documented the effectiveness of increasing protein, she tells WebMD. Protein works partly because it makes us feel full. Also, studies have shown that high protein and fewer carbohydrates work well together in terms of weight loss.
Bottom line: Eat fewer refined carbohydrates -- table sugar, baked goods, white bread, pasta -- and more fruits and vegetables, says Zelman. Eat lots of lean protein -- sirloin steak, flank steak, chicken, eggs, tofu, and fish.
How can you stand that stuff?
It's a diet drink plus other stuff that within four hours you are trotting to the pot continuously. Sure you lose weight, but diarrhea always does that to you.
This is disgusting. Pretty much since Atkins first published his diet decades ago, the evidence has been continually mounting that he was absolutely correct. That didn't stop the medical establishment from demonizing the man right up to the day he died. Practically the minute he's no longer around to say "I told you so," suddenly, magically, overnight it's "well-established" that low-carb diets cause rapid weight loss while government-backed high-carb diets cause heart disease and obesity. Oh, but only if you follow this altogether "new" diet created by a "well-respected" doctor, rather than the crazy scheme that dead crackpot was pushing.
Four hours on the couch a day watching television and eating chips equals turning into a big flat slob.
This diet seems like a good, moderate version of LowCarb dieting. I myself have done something similar, back when I was working out alot. If this guys book can bring more people into the low-carb way of eating, and if this help those people become healthier individuals, then more power to him!
Of course it is. Atkins preached ketosis for the first twenty-five years of his diet program, though he did back off in the last few years.
Achieving ketosis is not necessary to lose weight on Atkins or any other low-carb diet.
I don't think it's bad at all. I wouldn't suggest drinking one immediately after a 'full-flavored' beer, but to me it doesn't taste much different from a light beer. Occasionally I splurge and drink the 'good stuff' like a corona or yuengling, but most often I stick to the ultra. And I love beer!