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South Beach Diet

While some diets eliminate carbohydrates altogether, the South Beach Diet does neither. The South Beach Diet seeks to simply replace "bad" carbs and fats with ones that are "good" for you.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

South Beach Diet Overview

While some diets eliminate carbohydrates altogether, and others remove every last drop of fat, the South Beach Diet does neither. The South Beach Diet seeks to simply replace "bad" carbs and fats with ones that are "good" for you.

Dieters create a balanced menu that features a medley of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, low-fat dairy products and healthier fats like extra-virgin olive oil and avocado.

The South Beach Diet also makes a point to differentiate between foods that have a high and a low glycemic index (high GI foods are those that are high in sugar). Foods with a high GI, according to the diet, are responsible for raising blood sugar levels—the physiological response which is hunger and, in the long run, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes. By leveling blood sugar levels, South Beach dieters can curb cravings and ultimately ward off the onset of diabetes.

The diet is divided into three phases: Eliminate Cravings and Kickstart Weight Loss (a two week introductory stage), Lose Steadily and Maintain for Life.

Dieters who are no more than 10 pounds overweight may opt to start off in the Lose Steadily phase, since the initial stage targets individuals who are diabetic, prediabetic or significantly overweight.

When invented: The South Beach Diet was first invented in the 1980s by Dr. Arthur Agatston, who was studying preventative measures for heart disease. His first book—titled The South Beach Diet—was published in 2003.

Who invented it: The South Beach Diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a Miami based cardiologist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami.

Dr. Agatston was assisted by nutritionist Marie Almon—a registered dietitian who continues to tweak the diet today so that it stays up to date.

Length of diet plan: The South Beach Diet is intended to become a way of life. There are no days off on this plan, though once you enter the third and final phase of the diet, occasional indulgences are permitted.

Celebrity Devotees

Jessica Simpson followed The South Beach Diet in order to get Daisy Duke-ready. Jessica Alba and Oprah Winfrey are other known devotees. Another reported South Beach dieter is former President Bill Clinton, who adopted the plan after his 2004 heart operation, along with his wife Hillary.

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