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South Beach Diet Books

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What Is The South Beach Diet?

They may seem similar, but The South Beach Diet is more than just a heart-friendly version of the Atkins diet. All the same, they do have a lot in common.

Both South Beach and Atkins diets are the creation of medical doctors. The father of The South Beach Diet is cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Cardiac Prevention Center in Miami Beach, Fl.

Both the South Beach and Atkins diets are best-selling diet books. Only someone living in a cave hasn't, by now, heard of Agatston's The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss.

Both South Beach and Atkins diets restrict carbohydrates -- carbs, as diet dilettantes like to say. True, "good carbs" are allowed. But South Beach dieters must say goodbye to potatoes, fruit, bread, cereal, rice, pasta, beets, carrots, and corn for the first two weeks. After that, most of these foods remain strongly discouraged.

Both South Beach and Atkins diets have a more severe induction phase, followed by a long-term eating plan.

The difference, really, boils down to two things:

* Fats. The South Beach Diet bans unhealthy fats but strongly promotes healthy ones.
* Carbs. The South Beach Diet doesn't count grams of carbs. The Atkins diet seeks to change a person from a sugar-burning machine into a fat-burning machine. The South Beach diet looks at how much sugar is in a carb. Low-sugar carbs -- those with a low glycemic index (they don't cause the blood sugar levels to rise and fall as quickly) -- are good (this point may sound very familiar to fans of the Sugar Busters diet)

As Agatston says, this means his diet is not -- exactly -- a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet.
What You Can Eat on The South Beach Diet

You won't go hungry on The South Beach Diet. In fact, like the Body-For-Life diet, The South Beach Diet promotes strategic snacking. You're not doing it right if you don't snack.

There's no counting calories or strict portion sizes. But there's no gorging, either. The idea is to eat normal portions. To many of us, normal portions will seem small at first. They are enough to satisfy hunger, but no more.

As noted above, sugar-rich carbs are off the menu. These include rice and potatoes, and vegetables -- such as beets and corn -- with high sugar content. Also, there are no pastries or other sugar-filled desserts. And alcohol is forbidden in the induction phase and limited in the long-term diet.

What's on the menu? There are three phases.

The 14-day induction phase bans bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, baked goods, and fruit. And you can't have even a drop of beer, wine, or other alcohol. The diet promises that after a couple of days, you really won't miss this stuff. As for dairy, two servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, or buttermilk are now allowed during this phase.

The "reintroduce the carbs" stage gradually adds back in some of the banned foods. Not all of them, but if you are a pasta maniac, have some. Carrots used to be on the "foods to avoid" list at first, but you can now have them at the beginning of phase two. Tomatoes and onions, previously limited, are now fine in any phase. Fruit makes a comeback, too. Just pick and choose. A little now and then, no more. How long does this last? Until you hit your target weight.

The final stage is your diet for life. Eat normal foods in normal portions, following a few basic guidelines.
How The South Beach Diet Works

The South Beach Diet is based on the observation that Americans are carb crazy. That's the reason for the induction phase. Those first two weeks are meant to help people quit craving carbs. And it's why carbs are minimized throughout the diet.

Highly processed carbs, according to the South Beach theory, get digested too quickly. That makes insulin levels (a hormone the body makes to process sugars) spike. And once those fast-burning carbs are used up, your high insulin level makes you crave more food. So what do you tend to eat? More carbs, of course.

By breaking this cycle, The South Beach Diet promises to make you want to eat less food, but better food.

What the Experts Say About The South Beach Diet

Cindy Moore, RD, a director of nutrition therapy at Cleveland Clinic and a former spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, discussed The South Beach Diet with WebMD.

Moore says the diet truly does meet several of the criteria for a healthy diet. It's rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, she says. Most importantly, it doesn't leave out any major food groups.

Moore warns that during the induction phase, much of the lost weight is water weight. Losing this much water can throw your electrolyte balance off. So if you're following the diet, it's a good idea to work closely with a registered dietitian or your doctor.

Despite the popularity of The South Beach Diet, Moore warns, there's no one-size-fits-all diet. A dietitian can help you individualize The South Beach Diet to fit your health needs.

One big plus for The South Beach Diet is that it doesn't leave you in limbo. It recommends healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle long after you give up on ever getting back a loaned-out copy of the book.

Please consult a physician before starting any diet program.

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