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South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet, designed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, is billed as “The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss.”  A variation of the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet eliminates carbohydrates, such as potatoes, fruit, rice, cereal, rice, pasta, corn, and carrots, for the first two weeks.  After the two-week induction plan, these foods are strongly discouraged, but not forbidden if consumed in small amounts.  The South Beach Diet does not require counting calories or strict portion sizing, and snacking is built into the diet.    

The three phases of the South Beach Diet are induction, reintroduction, and maintenance.  During the induction phase all carbohydrates and alcohol are banned, and dairy products are severely limited to two servings of milk, yogurt, or buttermilk.  During the reintroduction phase the dieter gradually adds back a few of the banned items.  Carrots, tomatoes, onions, pasta, and other carbohydrates may be consumed in small quantities.  A glass of wine or beer occasionally is permitted.  The second phase continues until the dieter reaches his target weight.  The third phase of the South Beach Diet is maintenance, during which the dieter eats “normal foods in normal portions” for life.   

The theory behind the South Beach Diet is that highly processed carbohydrates, such as the ones banned in the induction phase, are digested too quickly by the body causing insulin levels to rise to unhealthy levels.  High insulin levels make the body crave more food, even if it does not need it for health or energy.  More carbohydrates will be consumed which will cause another insulin spike, and the resulting carbohydrate-consuming cycle will cause weight gain.  

Many doctors and diet professionals agree that the South Beach Diet does meet the criteria for a healthy diet plan.  Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains are its main components, and the limitation of alcohol consumption is viewed as healthy.  Doctors warn that initial weight loss will probably be mostly water, not fat.  As with many diets, this rapid loss of water on the South Beach Diet may cause a problem with electrolyte balance.  This is why some dieters experience light-headedness and weakness during the induction phase.  A consultation with a doctor is suggested before embarking on the South Beach Diet.

The South Beach Diet encourages healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle for the long term.  Its goal is not only weight loss, but also strength and fitness.        

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