The South Beach Diet - It's All About Phases

The South Beach Diet is a phased approach to nutrition and weight loss. There are 3 major phases where dieters eat specific foods while avoiding others. Eating in this way will help balance a person's glycemic index in order to lose weight and optimize metabolism.

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is used to measure the relative amount of blood sugar that is created in response to eating carbohydrates. Different carbohydrates metabolize at very different rates and when the absorption of sugars is slowed the insulin levels will shift. According to Dr. Agatston, a Florida cardiologist that created the South Beach Diet the insulin levels play a significant role in storing any excess calories as fat.

The original equation - use more calories than what you consume leads to weight loss - is till true. This new approach to weight loss and dieting shifts how the body uses these calories.

South Beach Diet Phase 1

Phase 1 of the diet will last exactly two weeks and focuses on shifting from eating high fat carbohydrates to low fat carbohydrates. For example, boiled ham is eaten rather than a fatty cut of beef. It will also focus on reducing starches like potatoes and bread and eating more black eyed peas and pinto beans. Soft drinks, wine, and beer are eliminated completely.

The plan is to beat sugar cravings and high fat content foods. According to theory this will help flip the switch that causes the body to store excess fat. When this switch is on the body will crave different foods, but with "retraining the cravings begin to disappear.

There is no need to count calories as long as portions remain normal sized. The plan is simple to follow and it is easy to develop a working list of forbidden and permitted foods during this two week phase.

South Beach Diet Phase 2

A few of the rules become more relaxed in Phase 2. Formerly forbidden foods may now be eaten like bread and pasta. While these items are on the 'Allowed' list, they ust be eaten in moderate amounts. Dieters can choose from a wide range of foods, such as rice, cereal, fruit and more. The allowed foods to emphasize should be those with a low-GI index. Red wine is re-introduced, again in moderation.

This period lasts as long as necessary in order to achieve the individual dieter's weight loss goal. For some people that may be just a few weeks, while others may several months or more.

South Beach Diet Phase 3

Once the desired weight has been reached, the idea is to keep the pounds away. Many dieters become very frustrated when they see those pounds that were so hard to lose begin to creep back on. Phase 3 is about making a lifelong commitment to changing eating habits that will retain the hard won goal.

While on the South Beach Diet the emphasis will be on "good" carbs rather than "bad" carbs. Bad carbs mean high GI and good carbs are low GI. High fat meats are discouraged while following this diet plan except as an occasional treat. Refined sugars are a big no-no, while fiber is good to eat since it slows down the digestion of carbohydrates. Eating foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids like fish will also slow down the digestion of carbs.

Summary

While it is possible to categorize the South Beach Diet as a low carb diet plan the emphasis is really on the kind of carbohydrates than the grams it contains. As with any major diet change that is considered, it is advisable to consult your physician before beginning.