About South Beach Diet
Created by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, the South Beach Diet promises to help you lose weight fast, maintain a healthy weight, and “live a lifetime of optimal nutrition”—without hunger or deprivation.
On top of this, we’re told the meals and snacks you’ll eat with the South Beach Diet are delicious, nutritious, and healthy, and the program’s “breakthrough” phased approach delivers a safe, effective, and foolproof weight loss method.
Since its release in 2003, the South Beach Diet has become one of the most popular diet plans in recent memory, with millions of customers to date. In fact, its popularity is probably one of the reasons you decided to learn more about the program in the first place.
Just because it’s popular, though, does this mean that the South Beach Diet will help you “get in the best shape of your life”? More importantly, is it a real-world tool you can use to keep the weight off for the long-term?
Here, we’ll take a deep dive into the South Beach Diet, including what kinds of results you might expect, what others are saying about the program and more. First, let’s start with the basics.
The Basic Principles Behind the South Beach Diet
The three-phase South Beach Diet plan is ultimately centered around two main principles:
- There are good carbs/bad carbs
- There are good fats/bad fats
As a result, the program focuses on replacing bad carbs (refined starches and sugars) with good ones, as well as bad fats with good fats. According to US News, this largely entails eating lots of vegetables, fish, low-fat dairy, and lean protein (including beef, chicken, turkey, and shellfish).
You’ll also eat a lot of whole grains and nuts, get plenty of good fats from other sources like eggs and olive oil, and avoid artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Using these foods, you’ll eat three normal-sized meals per day on the South Beach Diet, in addition to two snacks and one high-protein dessert. The goal is to ensure that you feel satisfied while properly fueling your body.
Depending on what you’re looking to achieve, you can remain on the South Beach Diet for as long as you like, and you won’t have to worry about counting calories, fat grams, carbohydrates—or anything else for that matter.
Now that we’ve covered the overarching theme behind the South Beach Diet, let’s go more in-depth and look at each of the program’s three phases.
What Are South Beach Diet’s Phases? How Long Do They Last?
In order to deliver “optimal nutrition for healthy living,” the South Beach Diet follows a three-phase approach:
Phase 1: 14-Day Body Reboot
During the first two weeks, the company claims you’ll “reset your body for rapid weight loss” and stabilize your blood sugar by focusing on high-protein, healthy fats; gluten free foods, and on reducing your cravings for sugar and refined starches.
WebMD tells us that this is the strictest phase of the program. You’ll eat a lot of protein (beef, poultry, seafood, eggs, cheese), as well as some fats like canola and extra-virgin olive oils, as well as avocado.
Any carbs you eat will be focused on the lowest glycemic index, including vegetables.
During this phase, you won’t be able to eat any fruit, foods containing starch, or dairy, or drink fruit juices and alcohol.
Phase 2: Steady Weight Loss
In Phase 2, you’ll begin adding foods back to your diet, including good carbs from unprocessed, low-refined sugar, whole grains (bread, rice, and pasta), sweet potatoes, fruit, and a broader range of vegetables.
If you choose the meal plan (more about this next), you’ll be able to eat out on your own two days per week, which the company claims gives you a “chance to practice the principles of South Beach.”
Additionally, we’re told you’ll be introduced to some easy-to-follow fitness tips during this phase.
Phase 2 will last as long as it takes you to reach your desired weight, before moving on to Phase 3.
Phase 3: Continuing Your Success
In South Beach Diet’s third and final phase, you’ll be able to enjoy all foods in moderation (no food lists), while still following the basic principles.
At this point, we’re told you’ll be able to know how to make good food choices and how to get yourself back on track in the event of an occasional overindulgence. If you get too far off track, they recommend returning to Phase 1 or 2.
What Does the South Beach Diet Meal Plan Include?
Before we dive in, keep in mind that you don’t have to purchase the South Beach Diet’s ready-made meals in order to follow the program. In other words, you can simply purchase the book and make your own meals according to the guidelines.
However, if you choose, you’ll be able to receive three weeks worth of pre-prepared meals at a time. We’re told your first 21-day shipment will include:
- 14-Day Reboot: 14 days of specially selected breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
- Phase 2: 5 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, in addition to “2 days of guidance and easy-to-prepare and sure-to-please recipes.”
In either instance, you can allow the company to select your meals for you through their Chef’s Picks plan. Or, you can pick your own menu from their selection of 50+ options, including:
- Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla breakfast shakes
- Farmstand Garden and Cheese Omelet
- Caribbean Inspired Chicken
- Chicken Roma
- Garlic-Ginger Beef & Broccoli
- Taqueria-Style Beef & Cheese Skillet
In addition to meals, the South Beach Diet also offers a line of junk-free protein snacks like the Cookies and Cream bar, Chocolate Ice Crush, Fudge Brownie Bar, Sea Salt-Kissed Nuts, Chocolate Dipper Peanut Butter bar, and Fudgy Graham Crumble bar.
How much will you pay for each of these meals? Will they deliver a solid value? We’ll get to these important questions in a second, but let’s first take a look at how much weight you might expect to lose with the South Beach Diet.
What Weight Loss Results Can You Expect with the South Beach Diet?
Important note: The HighYa staff didn’t test South Beach Diet firsthand and we’re certainly not medical professionals. As such, we relied on trusted sites like WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and others for much of the information found in this section.
According to the company, you’ll lose 8-13 pounds during the 2-week Phase 1, most of which they claim will be lost from your midsection.
Thereafter, you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week, which is what the Centers for Disease Control defines as “healthy.” This is also considered a reasonable pace for long-term weight management.
WebMD notes that some other benefits to the South Beach program include its simplicity and practicality, that it allows you to eat normal-sized meals, forgoes counting anything, is flexible for different needs, and the dishes are easy to make using widely available ingredients.
Despite this, the Mayo Clinic notes:
“No long-term, randomized controlled clinical trials have measured the health outcomes of the South Beach Diet. Nor have there been such studies of the overall health or cardiovascular benefits of following a low-glycemic-index diet. But eating such foods as whole grains, unsaturated fats, vegetables and fruits should help to promote good health.”
Taking all of this together, when answering the question “does the South Beach Diet work?” WebMD states: “Yes. It's a healthy approach to eating that can help you shed pounds,” since it “relies on proven ways to lose weight: eating smart carbs, healthy fats, lean protein, low fat dairy, and plenty of fiber to keep hunger at bay.”
However, they note that you might want to begin with Phase 2, since “nutrition experts warn against the restrictive first phase.”
Pro tip: While nutrition is arguably the most important aspect of achieving your goal weight, remember that exercise is also a key factor. As such, you might want to consider The South Beach Diet Supercharged, which adds an exercise/strengthening program.
Will You Experience Any Side Effects with the South Beach Diet?
Again, leaning on May Clinic’s advice, they list the South Beach Diet as “generally safe,” as long as you follow it as outlined.
This can result in dehydration and chemical changes in your blood, leading to nausea, headache, problems thinking, bad breath, dizziness, and more.
Finally, again citing the US News article:
“… most [experts] didn’t consider it extremely nutrient-deficient or unsafe. It’s a little heavy on fat at the start in phase 1, short on carbs during phases 1 and 2, and low in potassium throughout. Some experts were concerned it might be too high in protein for those with kidney problems.”
Now, let’s take a look at South Beach Diet’s pricing.
How Much Does the South Beach Diet Cost?
If you’re looking to start the South Beach Diet for as little money as possible, there’s perhaps no better way than with the book, which was priced at $14.28 on Amazon at the time of our research.
However, if you also opt to sign up for South Beach Diet’s meal plan, you’ll have three different options:
- 21-Day Auto-Delivery: $329.99
- One-Time Delivery: $507.68
- Snacks: $25
All options come with free shipping within the Continental U.S. Shipping is not available to PO boxes, APO boxes, or military addresses.
If you choose the auto-delivery option, this means you’ll continue receiving a three-week supply of food once every 21 days and charged $329.99 each time.
When the time comes, we’re told you’ll receive email reminders to choose your food before it ships, and you’ll be able to pause, update, or cancel your order at any time.
All South Beach Diet meal plans come with a 7-day satisfaction guarantee, less S&H. In order to request a refund, you’ll need to contact customer service at 888-841-2620. Note: this only applies to new, first-time 21-Day Plan customers.
Considering some of these prices, are South Beach Diet customers experiencing weight loss success and a solid value?
What’s Everyone Saying In Their South Beach Diet Reviews?
The South Beach Diet book had a 4.3-star average rating on Amazon, based on 1,800+ reviews.
There, common compliments cited effective weight loss (and the ability to keep it off), the sensible approach to nutrition, delicious meals, little-to-no cravings, and subsequent health benefits.
On the other hand, some felt that all of the same information could be presented in a much smaller book, although most of these customers claimed they were pleased with the diet itself.
As far as the program itself, a quick online search will reveal thousands of individuals who have use the South Beach Diet to reach their weight loss goals. And as we discussed above, many health professionals feel the second and third phases are sensible approaches to healthy nutrition and weight loss.
However, regarding their delivery service, ABC News stated that, “The food itself is not delicious. But it's healthy – proteins and non-starchy vegetables dominate the meals – and for the most part, satisfying. . . if a little boring day in and day out.”
Finally, Healthline notes that the South Beach Diet is well-balanced and could produce “life-long effects.” However, they add that the first phase is pretty tough, that you really have to commit, and that it might not be an ideal program if you require strict guidelines to remain on track.
Who Invented the South Beach Diet? Have There Been Any Changes Over the Years?
As mentioned at the beginning, the South Beach Diet was invented during the mid-1990s by Arthur Agatston, an American cardiologist who studied internal medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Eventually, Dr. Agatston moved to Miami, FL, where he remains today, practicing at South Beach Preventive Cardiology and serving as Medical Director, Wellness & Prevention at Baptist Health South Florida.
Originally created for his own patients, the South Beach Diet was Agatston’s answer to the Atkins Diet, which he felt wasn’t appropriate because of its saturated fat content and the fact that fiber and other nutrients were too limited.
After appearing at conferences and in other media, the South Beach Diet’s popularity began quickly increasing, until the first edition of the book was published in 2003.
Another version was printed in 2005, which made changes based on updated nutrition guidelines, including the addition of low-fat (1 percent) milk and yogurt, removing limitations for tomatoes, onions, carrots, and more.
For a complete look at the differences between each version, we’d recommend VeryWell’s full list of changes.
What’s the Bottom Line About the South Beach Diet?
When it comes down to it, it seems that many reputable online medical websites recommend phases 2 and 3 of the South Beach Diet as a healthy, sensible way of losing weight and keeping it off for the long term.
However, while you might be able to lose the most weight in the shortest amount of time, many of these same sites recommend avoiding Phase 1, as the food restrictions might be considered unhealthy.
Looking for the least expensive way to begin the program? If so, then you might consider purchasing the book and cooking your own meals. Why?
Because if you decide to sign up for South Beach Diet’s meal plan auto-delivery, you’ll have to spend $330 every three weeks, or more than $5,700 per year! Sure, this could be much more convenient, but you’ll certainly pay for the privilege.
Finally, some mini reviews we found on YouTube mentioned taking a fiber supplement with the South Beach Diet plan (especially during the first phase), since you won’t be consuming any carbs.
Any way you slice it, losing weight comes with innumerable benefits, including improved self-confidence, boosted health, increased energy, and more. And according to popular medical websites, it seems like the South Beach Diet might help you get there.
Just be sure to speak with your doctor first!
Before you go: Write a review below and tell us all about your South Beach Diet experience!