This diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist who wanted a diet to help patients prevent and reverse heart disease. There is a three-phased approach to the diet. After an initial two-week introduction period, the diet subscribes to a balance of carbs and fats. Participants on the South Beach diet will learn to control blood sugar and metabolism by monitoring what they eat according to the Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index measures the effect certain foods have on blood sugar. The lower the Glycemic Index of a food, the better it is for weight loss.

Initially for two weeks, most carbohydrates are restricted to break the cravings and addictions to food. South Beach promotes balanced eating until individuals are full, not restricting foods or counting calories. Participants eat three meals a day with three snacks in between. Recommended on the diet are eggs, turkey, chicken, fish, nuts, low-fat cheeses, yogurt, olive and canola oils.

Recommended for all phases:

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water or decaf beverages (club soda, unsweetened seltzers, decaf tea/coffee, decaf/sugar-free soda) per day.
  • Limit caffeine beverages to 1 cup per day.
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily.
  • Take a daily calcium supplement.


Phase 1:
Banishing Your Cravings – this lasts for only two weeks. The goal is to begin reversing the body’s potential inability to process sugars and starches properly and to reduce cravings for foods.

Acceptable foods include: lean beef, skinless poultry, seafood, pork (without glazes), veal (not breast), fat-free/low-fat lunch meat and cheeses, nuts, eggs, tofu, vegetables, canola and olive oils, spices, butter sprays, both, pepper, seasoning with no added sugar, and sweets with no added sugar (limit to 75 calories daily).

Foods to avoid include: fatty beef, duck, goose, processed poultry, chicken/turkey wings, legs, and thighs, full-fat cheese, all fruits, all starches (bread, pasta, cereal, rice, oatmeal, baked goods, pastry), barley, beets, black-eyed peas, carrots, corn, pinto beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, alcohol, all dairy (milk, ice cream, soy milk, yogurt).

Phase 2: 
Reintroducing Carbs – healthy carbohydrates will be gradually introduced back into the diet. This teaches eating in moderation the foods prohibited in Phase 1. Individuals stay in this phase until they meet their weight loss goal. The program is to incorporate carbs slowly back into lunch or dinner, one piece at a time to see the effect on weight loss.

Acceptable foods include: apples, oranges, cantaloupe, grapefruit, grapes, mangoes, blueberries, peaches, starches sparingly (multi-grain and high-fiber), oatmeal, pasta (whole wheat), rice (brown), barley, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, sweet potatoes, yams, chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) and fat-free pudding.

Foods to avoid or eat rarely include: starches with white or refined flours, cookies, pasta, potatoes, white rice, beets, carrots, corn, bananas, canned fruit, fruit juice, pineapple, raisins, watermelon, honey, ice cream and jam.

Phase 3:
A Diet for Life – this is the maintenance phase which establishes how to eat for the rest of your life. It follows the same principles as Phase 2, but with more freedom.

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