Is the South Beach Diet Still Legit … or Was It Just Another Fad?

Find out about Natural supplements to Support a Fit Heart

South Beach Diet - Dr. Axe

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Developed with the intent of aiding in weight loss while simultaneously improving health, the South Beach diet is more than just a short-lived fad diet.

In fact, this diet has seen massive success in the decades since its creation and has been credited with an array of benefits — like improved heart health, enhanced weight loss and steady blood sugar levels.

It emphasizes some of the core principles of healthy eating but breaks it down to keep it simple and easy to follow, making it a good fit for those looking to take the first step toward better health.

What Is the South Beach Diet?

The South Beach diet is a lower-carb, heart-healthy diet created by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston in the 1990s.

He noticed that his patients were able to easily lose weight when following a low-carb, high-fat diet like the Atkins diet, but he wanted to also cut the risk of heart disease by prioritizing complex carbohydrates and unsaturated sources of fat.

The South Beach diet is broken up into three phases. The first phase is the most restrictive and limits high-carbohydrate foods like fruits and grains. The second phase is slightly more lax but still focuses on unsaturated sources of fat, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. While these first two phases are geared toward weight loss, the final phase of the diet is designed to help with weight maintenance instead.

While some people have criticized the diet as nothing more than a fad diet, there are many studies demonstrating that following this type of eating pattern could come with health benefits that extend far beyond weight loss.

South Beach Diet Benefits

  1. Enhances Heart Health
  2. Boosts Weight Loss
  3. Reduces Hunger
  4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels
  5. Promotes Healthy Eating Patterns

1. Enhances Heart Health

The main concept of the South Beach diet is to lose weight while also protecting the health of your heart by including a plethora of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fish, vegetables and healthy fats, in your diet.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that replacing 5 percent of daily calories from saturated fats, which are not allowed on the South Beach diet, with an equal amount of calories from polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, which are encouraged on the diet, decreased the risk of coronary heart disease by 25 percent (PUFAs) and 15 percent (MUFAs), respectively. (1)

Meanwhile, another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that a high-carbohydrate diet leads to increased levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides compared to a high-fat diet. (2)

2. Boosts Weight Loss

Of course, the main reason that most people start the South Beach diet plan is to lose weight fast. But does it really work?

One 2007 study from the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Nutritional Science at Penn State University had 20 participants follow the South Beach diet for 12 weeks. At the end of…

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Heart health

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