The South Beach Diet:
Could It Help You Lose Weight?

The South Beach Diet--though a relatively new diet phenomenon--has vaulted to the top of the “weight loss plan heap” in less than a decade since its conception. Indeed, South Beach now holds the title as one of the two most popular low-carb diets on the planet (along with the Atkins Diet).

Dr. Arthur Agaston, a Florida cardiologist, conceived of the South Beach program together with a dietician named Marie Almon. Dr. Agaston arrived at his ideas after observing the progress of thousands of patients over many years. He came to realize that the standard “low-fat high-carb” regimen urged on by the American Heart Association and the USDA was shockingly ineffective at treating obesity and preventing heart disease.

Dr. Agaston used his intuition and understanding of the biochemistry of insulin to develop a three phased weight loss system based primarily on carbohydrate restriction. After seeing how well his diet worked for his patients, he embarked to share his secrets with the rest of the world.

Not the same as Atkins

Unlike the Atkins plan, the South Beach diet discourages eating saturated fats and allows more carbohydrates earlier in the process. Dr. Agatston does not encourage calorie counting but believes that calories do matter; his theory is that you just need to eat the “right foods,” and the rest will sort itself out (i.e. you will satiate before you consume “too many” calories.)

Is it the carb-restriction or fat-restriction that helps?

Although Dr. Agatston does not consider his approach "low-carb" per say, many have made the case that the reason why people lose weight on South Beach is due to the carb restriction--not the limitation on saturated fats.

Basic theory behind South Beach

“Bad” carbohydrates (e.g. the sugars found in candy and fruit juice) cause spikes in blood sugar; the body responds by making insulin, which then drives weight-gain. Chronically elevated insulin also causes tissue inflammation, which associates with a host of maladies: from arthritis to atherosclerosis to Alzheimer's disease. (As you'll see if you keep reading these low-carb diet reviews, this “too much insulin drives weight gain” theme is a very, very common one.)

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