The South Beach Diet: Sounds Compelling – But Does It Work?
Despite how popular the South Beach Diet is, I would never recommend it to any of my clients who come in for nutrition consultations. In this article, I've compiled research on why the South Beach Diet is not a replacement for a healthy diet.
The South Beach Diet was developed by cardiologist Dr. Agatston in the 1980s as a strategy to help his patients reduce their risk of heart attack. The diet is based on the idea that good carbohydrates are those that score low on the glycemic index and that the dieter could consequently 'kill' the hunger pangs that accompany high sugar intake. Though some of Dr. Agatston's ideology is sound, like introducing oily fish and nuts, the extreme phases of the diet, i.e. lack of solid exercise and lack of evidence-based research make this diet a poor choice overall.
First of all, no long term studies have been conducted on the South Beach Diet. The 2005 study by Kraft Foods showed favorable results, but the study only lasted 3 months. The longest study, done over one year, was conducted by Agatston, the same man who created the diet, so I'd like to take his results with a grain of salt since there hasn't been enough broad testing within the general public who followed the diet themselves.
Secondly, the diet is simply too "one-size-fits-all." The nutritional needs of men and women vary greatly, not to mention the nutritional needs of small versus large people, economically capable people versus budget-conscious people and active people versus inactive people. To group such a diverse community of people into one category and asking them to follow the same diet plan can only result in an awkward application of those principles. This is highlighted by the fact that the South Beach Diet, a significant component of which involves dairy intake, doesn't cater to the lactose intolerant, which comprises 4-7 percent of the world's population. Finally, the South Beach Diet lacks control, allowing food such as french fries and a lack of exercise. The end product? A weak, slightly slimmer person who may not remain so as the months progress.
The South Beach Diet also fills dieters with false hope. It makes the tragic mistake of telling dieters that most of the weight will be shed from their midsection, when in fact the weight loss in the first two weeks is a result of the water released from your body from the lack of carbs. The first phase of eliminating almost all cards is so unrealistic that many people I know who have tried the South Beach Diet have given up in sheer frustration.
I also have budget concerns about dieters who practice the South Beach Diet. In order to fulfill the fish requirements alone, the average person would have to spend a lot more as well as cook the meals themselves, making this diet painfully unrealistic for the working person. In an article "Can only the rich afford to be thin?" written by USA Today it was calculated that following the South Beach Diet's exorbitant menu would cost $90 a week. In the same article, Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington-Seattle notes, "To suggest to the lower middle class or poor that they eat a diet filled with foods like red snapper, radicchio, fresh tomatoes, baby lamb chops, olive oil and merlot wine is blatant economic elitism."
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 South Beach Diet by Mayo Clinic Staff
 South Beach Diet 101: South Beach Diet Pros and Cons
 Wikipedia: South Beach Diet
 Can only the rich afford to be thin? (USA Today)
My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.