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  • South Beach Diet: A summary of its recommendations for losing weight

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    Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:54 pm Email this article
    Below is brief summary of the South Beach Diet recommendations according to an article by Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH from the University of Michigan's Medical Center.

    The diet consists of three phases.

    Phase One (2 weeks): Eliminate cravings

    The first phase, which lasts two weeks, is to eliminate cravings.

    Eliminate all starches, sugars and alcohol

    It is accomplished by eliminating all starches such as bread, potatoes, rice and all sugars including fruits and all alcohol.

    Eat highly nutritious vegetables and snacks

    During Phase 1, highly nutritious vegetables and snacks are recommended.

    Expected weight loss during Phase One: 7-13 lbs

    The expected weight loss during this phase is 7 to 13 pounds.

    Here is a list of foods that are encouraged and discouraged during Phase 1.

    Alcohol: Discouraged

    Alcohol is discouraged.

    Beef: Lean cuts encouraged

    Lean cuts of beef, such as sirloin, tenderloin, and top round, are encouraged.

    Cheese: Low-fat encouraged

    Low-fat and fat-free cheeses, such as American, cheddar, and 1% or 2% or fat-free cottage cheese, cream cheese substitute, dairy-free, feta, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, ricotta, and string cheese are encouraged.

    Cheese: Full-fat discouraged

    Brie, edam, and non-low-fat cheeses are discouraged.

    Dairy: Low-fat encouraged

    Low-fat or fat-free milk or soy milk are encouraged, as are sugar-free low-fat or fat-free yogurt.

    Eggs: Encouraged

    Eggs, including whole eggs, unless limited by your doctor, are encouraged

    Fats: Canola and olive oil encouraged

    Canola and olive oil are recommended over other oils.

    Fruits and fruit juices: Discouraged

    Avoid all fruits and fruit juices during Phase 1.

    Lunchmeat: Fat-free or low-fat only

    Fat-free and low-fat lunchmeats are OK.

    Nuts: Encouraged

    Nuts are encouraged. They include almonds (15 per day), macadamias (15 per day), peanuts (20 per day), peanut butter (1 Tablespoon per day), and pistachios (30 per day).

    Pork: Low-fat encouraged

    Boiled ham, Canadian bacon and tenderloin is encouraged.

    Honey-baked ham is discouranged.

    Poultry: Skinless encouraged

    Skinless poultry is encouraged. This includes Cornish hen, turkey bacon (2 slices per day), turkey and chicken breast.

    Chicken wings and legs, duck, goose, and processed poultry products are discouraged.

    Fish and Seafood: Encouraged

    All types of fish and shellfish are encouraged.

    Spices and seasoning: Encouraged

    All spices with no added sugar are encouraged, in addition to broth, extracts such as almond and vanilla, horseradish, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, and pepper (black, cayenne, red, and white).

    Starches and Carbs: Discouraged

    Patients are told to avoid all starchy foods during Phase 1 including breads, cereal, matzo, oatmeal, rice, pasta, pastry, and all types of baked goods.

    Sweet treats: Limit to 75 calories per day

    Limit sweet treats to 75 calories per day. This includes hard and sugar-free candies, chocolate powder with no added sugar, cocoa powder, sugar-free fudge pops, sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free gum, sugar-free popsicles, and sugar substitutes.

    Tofu: Encouraged

    Use of soft, low-fat, and lite varieties of tofu are recommended.

    Vegetables and legumes: Most types encouraged

    The following vegetables are encouraged: artichoke, asparagus, beans (black, butter, chickpeas, green, Italian, kidney, lentils, lima, pigeon, soy, split peas, and wax), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, snow peas, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, water chestnuts, zucchini.

    The following vegetables are discouraged: beets, corn, potatoes and yams.

    Phase 2 Recommendations: Add good carbs such as grains and fruits

    In Phase 2 of the diet, patients are told to add “good” carbohydrates such as whole grains and whole fruits.

    A glass of wine with diner is encouraged

    Patients are also encouraged to add a glass of red or white wine with a meal, which the author of the diet claims may slow digestion.

    Phase 3 Recommendations: Maintenance based on making good choices

    Phase 3, the maintenance phase, begins once a person has reached their goal weight.

    During this phase, there are no real restrictions because the patient is supposed to know enough to make the correct choices, for example, eating brown rice instead of white rice, pita bread instead of white bread, and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

    Eat low glycemic index foods (glycemic index less than 55)

    The South Beach Diet also encourages patients to eat foods with a low glycemic index of 55 or less, and low glycemic load.

    Glycemic index tables

    The glycemic index and glycemic load of foods can be found in tables found here.


    Moyad M. Fad diets and obesity—part iii: a rapid review of some of the more popular low-carbohydrate diets. Urol Nurs. 2004 Oct, 24(5):442-45.


    Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH
    University of Michigan Medical Center
    Department of Urology
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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