In the light of the latest research, the food pyramid that traditionally ranges the food groups according to the amount that should be used for a healthy diet has essentially changed. Dr. Agatston suggests a reconsideration of the traditional food ranging pyramid. Thus, the pyramid base should be occupied by the good carbohydrates from vegetables, whole fruits and whole grains. The next level should include lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and good fats. The following level should include saturated fats, then processed carbohydrates and at the apex, trans-fats.
Complex carbs and lower GI are South Beach Diet-friendly.
Carbs are essential for the optimum functioning of the body.
South Beach Diet encourages dieters to take best advantage of complex carbs benefits:
- Replace white bread with whole grain bread, white rice with brown rice and white potatoes with sweet potatoes.
- Add new grains to your food like barley for soup, bulgur, quinoa for salads, kasha instead of rice etc.
- Refined carbs are to be served in combination with high-fiber vegetables, a small amount of fat (preferable of vegetable origin) or a source of protein: meat, fish, beans — to slow down the rise in blood sugar.
First phase of the diet bans all starches but beginning with phase 2, healthy grains are gradually reintroduced into the diet.
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts
Whether it is meat or its substitutes, foods in this group fill you up and slow down the speed at which your body digests carbs. However, a diet based on protein providers does not mean that it is healthy to eat any type of meat in any quantity all the time. Lean protein should be part of every meal, such as skinless chicken and turkey, lean pork, fish, shellfish, nonfatty cuts of beef (such as tenderloin and sirloin) and Canadian bacon (instead of regular bacon).
Eggs, nuts and beans are also healthy sources of protein, but eaten in moderation — according to latest studies, a maximum of 7 eggs a week is perfectly admissible and healthy.
Milk, yogurt, cheese
Dairy products are calcium-providers and healthy bones need calcium. Dairy products are recommended in low-fat versions. They are nutritious and not fattening.
Milk products are allowed in all diet phases, first (phase 1) only as low-fat cheese — part-skim mozzarella cheese stick, cottage cheese — and then in all forms, but always low-fat.
Vegetables and fruits
The diet is based on lots of vegetables, beans, legumes and soy products. The vegetable range is slightly limited during phases 1 and 2, the starchy and sugary vegetables are restricted — beets, carrots, corn, potatoes. You continue to have at least 1/2 cup with breakfast, 2 cups each with lunch and dinner, plus you may have veggies as snacks.
While phase 1 eliminates all fruits.
In phase 2, one serving of fruit per day is allowed, and the avoided ones are bananas, canned fruit, juices, pineapple, raisins, and watermelon.
Fats, oils, sweets
Fats play an important part in the good functioning of the body.
Avoid foods rich in saturated fat and favor unsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts and oily fish, such as salmon. Not only are this type of fats included in the South Beach Diet food list, but they are strongly recommended, as they known to be heart-healthy.
Sweets are not allowed in their sugar version. Sugar substitutes are recommended especially during phase 1. The following phases gradually permit some sweets, like desserts of fruit or cheese for example, prepared and combined in such a manner as to maintain a low GI. South Beach Diet book does contain some delicious sweets recipes, quite encouraging for the sweet lovers!