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South Beach -- Results at a Price

by Paige

Last summer I tried the acclaimed Dr. Agatson's South Beach Diet. I'm eighteen years old and pretty fit and I just wanted to lose an extra 5-10 pounds, especially from my middle.

I found the original teal book at a local yard sale, bought it on a whim, and thought 'hey, why not?'

While I did lose about seven pounds on the South Beach Diet, it was not very pleasant. I just couldn't bear eating the food that was recommended.

It was all HEALTH food, no indulgences at all. I was pretty much only eating vegetables and low or reduced fat everything.

As a girl that loves some good 'ole home cooking this just was not doing it for me. I also hate the taste of Splenda and the way that it would give me migraines so that was a no-go too.

Another thing -- I love going out to eat and have always been a foodie of sorts. On the South Beach Diet, I constantly felt deprived at restaurants; always ordering things without bread or sauce.

Eventually, after a month of torturing myself with the South Beach Diet, I quit. Now, I am on a different low-carb/sugar plan and I am loving it because I can eat normal eggs, cheese, and even fruit and still lose weight.

The best thing for me about the South Beach Diet was the suggestion of eating no sugar added Fudgsicles...they are delicious, no matter what kind of diet you are following. Kudos to anyone who can survive the SBD.

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South Beach: Great Short Term, Difficult Maintenance

by Anna
(Charlotte, NC, USA)

I tried the South Beach diet a couple of years ago - it only lasted about six months. The first couple of weeks it was easy and quite motivating - I was excited and encouraged by the short term results.

I was definitely hungry but it didn't bother me because I had lost about 5 pounds I would say. The many tools available to you on the program make it easy to know what you can and cannot eat, and I liked the philosophy behind starting off more restricted and then easing back into more types of food.

I didn't find going out to eat incredibly difficult. The main issue was carbs - this diet severely restricts your carb intake (even in the later phases of the plan you can't have very many carbs) and that became increasingly difficult for me as time went on. I found myself craving them all of the time.

And eating just a handful of peanuts (and counting them out every time) for a snack wasn't really cutting it. I realized eventually that cutting carbs out of my life was not going to be realistic long term, and the moment you start letting the bread back into your life from the South Beach diet, the weight comes back.

I have now found a more balanced approach involving whole grains, am much happier for it, and have lost weight that I am keeping off.

The other thing I didn't really love was the pre-prepared foods that South Beach provides. None of it is very tasty, and they are filled with chemicals and preservatives.

Overall, this diet is better than many others, but creating my own strategy using common sense and exercise was ultimately a much better solution for me long term, as I was able to stop focusing on restriction and start focusing on health.


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Note from Dr. Dan


A lot of people say that the pre-packaged foods you get from diets like South Beach, or Nutri-System, just don't taste very good.

It must be difficult to make pre-packaged food, because the South Beach Diet book features some of the finest chefs in Miami. I guess they're not involved with the company's products.

Anyway, you can't reach your goal and stay there by eating food out of a box. As you discovered, for long-term weight loss you need a good balance of nutritious food, and it needs to be foods you enjoy. Otherwise you can't stick with the program.

Dr. Dan

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South Beach Diet: Great For Some, Pointless For Others

by Lacey
(Minneapolis, MN)

The South Beach Diet is really a hit or miss diet. Last year, as a new year’s resolution, my mother and I decided to try the South Beach Diet together. I wanted to lose about twenty lbs and my mother wanted to lose about a hundred.

The South Beach Diet works in three phases. The first is designed to ease dieters into the diet and help them reduce cravings and begin weight loss.

Phase one focuses on changing eating habits and filling your diet with foods high in protein, fiber, and nutrients.

The South Beach Diet encourages smaller meals and several snacks so, theoretically, dieters won’t go hungry.

Although this diet had decent food choices, for some it may be difficult to make the change. Especially because it is sudden.

The second phase of the South Beach Diet focuses on long-term weight loss. However, this is the hit or miss part of the diet.

The exercise plans focus a lot on toning and muscle work, not a lot on cardio or walking. This style of exercise works for people like me who would like to lose ten or twenty lbs, but for those who want to lose a lot of weight, they need a lot more cardio than the South Beach Diet offers.

The third phase of the diet focuses on maintaining weight loss and works to ensure permanent results. It centers around forming healthy habits to ensure that dieters don’t simply gain all of their weight back.

So, although this diet worked very well for me and helped me lose fifteen pounds and keep it off, the diet did not work so well for my mother who had a lot of trouble with it.

I would recommend this diet to those who would like to sculpt and tone their bodies, not to those who need to lose a significant amount of weight.

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Note from Dr. Dan


As you point out, there are different body types. You've probably seen "before and after" photos where a person is overweight, and six weeks later they have rippling muscles.

Those people -- when the pictures aren't fake -- are naturally muscular and athletic with a very high metabolism. They can gain weight, but seldom very much. These naturally muscular people are called "mesomorphs."

But someone who is 100 pounds overweight has a different body type -- called "endomorph." The endomorphs gain weight easily. They tend to have heavy bodies and heavy thighs.

And endomorphs need a lot of cardio in order to get benefits from exercise. They need resistance training too -- the pushups, pullups and weights. But if they don't get enough cardio they just don't burn off the fat.

Dr. Dan

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First Time Around the South Beach Diet was Great

by Sandy
(Littleton, CO)

My husband and I both went on the South Beach Diet. The first few days were difficult from cutting that much sugar out. I have never craved sugar before but by the second day I really wanted some sweets.

After the first few days things settled down and the diet was relatively easy to follow. Even though the first two weeks (Phase 1) is pretty restrictive and boring it is easy to follow.

You can't have dairy, bread, fruit and even certain vegetables in Phase 1 and while they give a pretty varied menu plan along with recipes it is pretty repetitive. For example you have eggs for breakfast every day and even with different recipes it is still eggs.

I would not recommend going out to eat for any meals in Phase 1 as it is so restrictive.

After Phase 1 we entered Phase 2 where you could start adding foods back into your diet. We followed the recommended menus to start and then it was easy to modify recipes to fit within the diet's standard and add some of our favorite foods back in but in a "healthy" way.

During Phase 2 it was much easier to get back into social outings and periodically going out to eat.

We followed this diet wholeheartedly for 6 months and had great success with it. We mostly kept the weight off for a full year but then the pounds started to creep back on.

We have attempted doing South Beach several times since then but with limited success. We feel that as Phase 1 is so restrictive that it makes it hard to actually stick to the diet when you try it again but that may be just us.

I would recommend to anyone to give it a shot but would have to add the disclaimer to not let it consume you and to definitely look at other diets that might work better for you and your lifestyle.


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Note from Dr. Dan


You bring up a very interesting point when you say, "We mostly kept the weight off for a full year but then the pounds started to creep back on."

There are two different ways of looking at weight loss. One is the idea of going on a "diet", losing the weight and then going back to your regular habits.

If you do this you will find that "the pounds started to creep back on." Why?

Because you are living in our modern world. And if you have the type of body that tends to be heavy living as we do nowadays -- and most of us have that body type -- then the pounds tend to creep up each year.

The alternative? It's to reinvent your life, to consciously make those permanent changes that will keep you fit and healthy and at a good weight.

Dr. Dan

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