With an overwhelming number of diet programs claiming to help people drop pounds easily and quickly, we have created one of the most extensive South Beach diet reviews for the most popular weight loss program to date. Our review stacks it up against other well-known diet plans to bring even more objectivity to our analysis.
Most health experts agree: there’s no one-size-fits-all diet program. Dieters must always consider overall health, lifestyle, and sustainability (can you stick to it long term?), and they should consult a doctor or a registered dietician before starting any new diet.
What Are South Beach Diet Reviews?
In 2003, cardiologist Arthur Agatston released his best-selling book, The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss. In a nutshell, the South Beach diet is low in carbs and high in healthy fats and protein. Not a highly restrictive low-carb diet, this plan, that does not involve counting carbohydrates, has been the subject of many diet reviews.
Previous South Beach Diet reviews have shown its success for individuals wanting to lose weight and those wanting to find a healthy way of eating. Hence, its proponents suggest that aside from weight loss, it also promotes a more holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle.
While South Beach does not eliminate carbs, it restricts people from eating “bad” carbs—i.e., foods with a high glycemic index, which can spike up your blood sugar higher and longer than foods with a lower index. Studies have shown increased blood sugar boosts appetite, which predisposes you to binge eating and, ultimately, to weight gain. Studies also tie prolonged blood sugar increases to a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Essentially, South Beach diet is about eating good carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This diet program, with a name touting a posh area in Miami, also focuses on healthy fats, particularly mono-unsaturated fats.
The best-selling book costs around $14, and you can purchase it on Amazon, eBay, and other large online retailers, or in leading bookstores.
How Our Review Compares to Other South Beach Diet Reviews
Unlike most South Beach Diet reviews focusing on this diet only, we use a 5-star rating system to stack it up against other popular diet books, including The Paleo Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, and The Atkins Diet.
Remember, the best diet program fit your lifestyle, meet your goals, and consider your overall health. In addition, to follow a plan long term, you need to consider its flexibility, your enjoyment (i.e., foods you prefer), and its sustainability (are ingredients readily available in your area?)
Ease of Meal Prep
The meal plan comprises super-nutritious recipes, many of which are flavorful, and easy and quick to prepare. However, some people find grocery shopping an expensive challenge because it eliminates “cheap” carbs such as white pasta, bread, and potatoes, and increases consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and cheese, which can be expensive.
Compared with other diet programs, the South Beach Diet offers more flexibility and more food variations because it is not a true low-carb diet plan, some of which can limit carb intake to less 20 grams per day. Because it is not highly restrictive, eating out and dinners with friends are workable, even in phase one that lasts for two weeks. Also, you can replace white bread with whole-grain rolls in later phases.
Other choices include grilled fish and other seafood, eggs, cheese, beef filet mignon, turkey, salad, vegetables, healthy carbs (vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, and broccoli), good fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil), sweet potato, and whole grains (rice, bread, and pasta).
According to studies, following this program long term has been shown to improve your blood cholesterol levels and your overall health. Since it is far more balanced than Atkins and other diet programs that severely restrict carb intake, there is no or little risk of ketosis, which happens when your body does not get enough sugar for energy. Common symptoms of this condition include bad breath, nausea, headache, dizziness, mental fatigue, and dehydration.
Dieters provide great reviews due to this meal plan’s flexibility (after the initial stage) and ease of preparation. Followers can opt for meal delivery and can download an app to help track meals and weight and diet goals. This plan, after the initial stage, can be a great way to maintain a healthy weight long term.
The Paleo Diet book, by Dr. Loren Cordain, encourages people to follow our prehistoric ancestors’ eating habits—i.e., high-protein and high-fiber foods. It promises sustainable weight loss without having to count or cut back on calories, and claims to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Simulating the diet of a caveman, it demands avoiding processed foods, including wheat, refined sugar, dairy, refined vegetable oils, salt (to reduce sodium intake), some grains and legumes (beans and peanuts). Dr. Cordain argues that our ancestors were hunter-gatherers—not farmers.
Ease of Meal Prep
While many Paleo recipes are quick and easy to prepare, cooking might challenge beginners because it requires them to stock up on the allowed foods and to cook from scratch. It eliminates packaged and processed foods entirely, and many find meal preparation time-consuming and demanding.
Because it eliminates canned and boxed food, and prohibits vegetarian options such as legumes and beans, you must be extra creative with limited food options. Essentially, this diet emphasizes fish and other seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthier fats such as olive oil and coconut oil.
Studies have shown diets rich in lean protein and plant-based foods can help in maintaining a healthy weight, preventing binge eating (providing satiety even with smaller servings), and reducing risk of diabetes. Some small clinical trials have shown the Paleo Diet could lower risk of high blood pressure, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.
A great way to lose weight, many people find Paleo highly restrictive and end up lapsing into old unhealthy habits. Dr. Cordain has suggested some “cheating,” especially in the first few weeks. For instance, you can eat anything you want for three meals a week to curb feelings of deprivation.
The Paleo Diet may not suit athletes, particularly runners and those requiring carbs for endurance. Also, vegetarians and people who want a weight-loss diet less focused on meat should look for another plan.
- Michael D. Ozner
- BenBella Books
- Kindle Edition
- Edition no. 1 (04/29/2014)
Not one diet plan, Mediterranean diets involve eating healthy plant foods, fish and other seafood, and small amounts of meat and poultry. It’s not a weight-loss program, but a style of eating of people from Mediterranean cities like Sardinia, Italy, and Ikaria, Greece. Inhabitants of this region live longer and have lower rates of cancer and heart-related diseases than people in other countries.
The diet's popularity stems from a well-rounded approach that is not highly restrictive. In fact, it allows moderate consumption of red wine.
Ease of Meal Prep
Diet recipes require staples found in the average kitchen and ingredients you'll find in your local grocery store, so many describe it as “very realistic.” But, since it leaves little room for processed fare, you must allot prep and cooking time. Meal preparation is not overly time-consuming and a good number of recipes call for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Not highly restrictive, Mediterranean diets only limit dairy products, sugary foods, and red meat. Its versatility allows you to enjoy a wide range of food that includes fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish.
Studies have linked this diet to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Any diet rich in fruits and vegetables, studies show, lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve immunity.
Although not for weight loss, it can help you shed extra pounds due to no processed foods with high calories and no nutritional value.
Weight loss might be slower than with true weight-loss programs. However, experts suggest the plan is realistic and something dieters can stick to long term.
The Atkins Diet book presents a low-carb weight-loss plan. It does not involve calorie counting and allows you to eat anything you want as long as you avoid or limit foods high in carbohydrates. Changed to accommodate people with varying weight-loss goals and different fitness levels, it entails getting 30 percent to 50 percent of your total calories from protein.
Ease of Meal Prep
Most recipes are easy to prepare and ingredients are easy to find in grocery stores. You can also find Atkins frozen foods, snacks, and drinks if you’re pressed for time.
You must avoid staple carbs such as white flour and sugar, and stick to carbohydrates in vegetable forms such as quinoa, buckwheat, oats, kidney beans, and chickpeas. Some who have tried this diet found it to be restrictive, especially if you plan to stick to it long term. Meanwhile, it favors people who like eggs, meats such as bacon, chicken, and pork, fatty fish and seafood, and full-fat dairy, like butter and cheese.
The Atkins Diet provides some of the quickest results in terms of weight loss goals. Realizing visible improvements in a short amount of time might enable dieters to stay the course more successfully. Studies have shown the Atkins Diet can improve blood sugar, triglycerides, good cholesterol, and other health markers.
Rapid weight loss makes Atkins ideal for those needing strong “visible” motivation to stay the course. However, some claim they regained weight, however, after weeks or months of lapsing into old eating habits.
Like most South Beach Diet reviews, our review gives it a relatively high rating of 4.5 stars because its recipes are realistic. They do not involve calorie and fat counting and most are easy to prepare. In addition, this diet program has a well-balanced approach allowing you to stick to it long term, without having to worry about health risks.