As the diet was conceived as a health issue solver, its main immediate intended effect was to improve health condition by diminishing high cholesterol levels and heart condition causes. Weight loss is a desirable “side-effect” especially in waist-to-hip ratio. The fact that it results from sound nutritive principles makes it a healthy one, with an authentic, long-term effect.
The health effects
- South Beach diet low carb principle trains your body to lose the craving for high carbohydrates foods and to prefer the low, complex carbs, lower GI foods. This results in significantly lowering your blood sugar level at first and afterwards giving a new start to the insulin generating process, improving the body response to carbs. Thus carbs are no longer stored as fat.
- the habit of avoiding saturated fats (usually of animal origin) and preferring the unsaturated ones (vegetable oils — olive and canola oils especially) but in limited amounts lead to corrections of the level of cholesterol (the LDL-HDL balance is improved). Fats contained in fish (Omega-3 fatty acids) are particularly advisable, as scientific research has proven that fat fish consumption decreases the risk of arrhythmias (which may lead to sudden cardiac death), decreases triglyceride levels and slightly lowers blood pressure.
American Heart Association has more on Fish and Omega-3 fatty acids
The effect on the body line
Is also a health gaining effect, results from the deficit of carbohydrates (especially in the first part of the diet) determining the body to burn fat for energy. Although lowered, the level of carbohydrates must be maintained at an acceptable limit and the resources must be complex carbs foods with a low GI to provide the body the necessary resources — especially because carbs turn into glucose, which represents the main resource of energy for the brain. A reasonable level of carbs should be maintained to avoid marked ketosis.
Ketosis may appear at some dieters during phase 1. It manifests through specific bad breath and may lead to loss of glycogen stores, dehydration, dizziness, heart palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness, constipation, irritability, and electrolyte imbalance.
Patients with chronic illness (diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and those who are significantly overweight) should consult with their physicians before starting the South Beach diet.
A complete check-up is recommended before starting the diet.
- During Phase 1 dehydration may occur — make sure you have plenty of fluids;
- During Phase 1 hypoglycemia may occur — make sure you are eating plenty of low glycemic carbs, have regular meals and snacks;
- constipation may occur, in case of extreme limitations of total carbohydrate intake — make sure you get vegetables and fiber.
However, ketosis does not necessarily occur to everyone. It can be prevented if the body is provided enough good carbs from the right vegetables, enough water, well balanced meals and snacks.