South Beach Diet Pros and Cons

Presentation of South Beach diet pros and cons.

The South Beach diet pros and cons question is vividly debated by both sustainers and detractors.There are solid arguments in both directions. And here are some:

South Beach Diet Pros

  • South Beach is a healthy diet (the diet was originally designed for preventing and reversing heart disease, and weight loss is the very pleasing side-effect):
    • It recommends prevalent consumption of foods containing heart-healthy unsaturated fats (mono and polisaturated ones) in the detriment of the saturated fats and trans fats.
    • It encourages complex carbs consumption and banns simple carbs, thus helping the regulation of the insulin level and the body response to food.
    • Also, it is based on eating low GI foods which discourage the consumption of junk-food (white bread, sugary cereals and sweets).
    • It is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, and it doesn't omit any major food groups (during phase 2, 3).
  • Cravings disappear due to the restriction of refined or highly processed carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, cakes, and cookies, which are quickly digested and leave you feeling hungrier faster. Lean protein and healthy fat are more filling.
  • Weight loss is fast. During the South Beach diet phase 1 you can lose up to 13 pounds. In a comparative study of South Beach Diet and American Heart Association Diet the results were in favor of the South Beach Diet. Thus, dieters on South Beach experienced a spectacular weight loss, a decrease in waist to hip ratio, a dramatic decrease in triglycerides, and their good to bad cholesterol ratio improved more than the AHA group.
  • It's easy to follow. It does not imply counting calories, tracking points, or measuring your portions. It is not too limiting, all food groups are allowed (in Phases 2 and 3). The diet is fairly balanced after the initial strict phase. It also permits occasional indulgence plus the food is delicious!
  • You won't get hungry. Dieters are encouraged to eat regular portion sizes and healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.

South Beach Diet Cons

  • Insufficiency of scientific data on the South Beach diet — there is only one study that Dr. Agatston conducted with some of his own patients, but it was not a long-term study and the patient-sample was not very large. Dieters should be monitored long term, as high protein intake makes the kidneys work harder and strip the body of calcium.
  • Phase 1 is the most restrictive and has some inconveniences:
    • Ketosis might occur due to the lack of carbs resulting in fat burn, and thus its effects of weakness, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, dizziness, glucose body depletion, dehydration.
    • The fruit lack results in loss of vitamins and minerals.
    • Eliminating all carbohydrate-rich foods during this phase will also cut out some other good sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals. (e.g. wholegrain breads and cereals are rich in fibre, B vitamins and iron, and milk is an excellent source of calcium and zinc).
  • The rapid weight loss is not recommendable. Some nutrition experts say that it is safer to lose no more than 2lb a week for good health.
  • South Beach diet seems to be expensive: protein is more expensive than carbs.
  • The recipes are very complex and time-demanding.
  • For those that are accustomed to carb-rich diets the South Beach diet is very demanding. It requires a great deal of willpower. There is the danger of lapsing back into the old eating habits.
  • It was said that the beneficial effects on blood lipids and insulin resistance are due to the weight loss, not to the change in caloric composition.
  • There is the risk for compromised vitamin and mineral intake (that is why supplements are recommended), as well as potential cardiac, renal, bone, and liver abnormalities overall. South Beach uses the glycemic index to make food choices, which can be inaccurate. The GI is variable with: the way of cooking, ripeness, particle size and many other factors. It is also established for specific foods eaten alone.
  • The absence of any significant mention of exercise.
  • The lack of options for people who don't like or can't eat dairy products. (many snacks are dairy-based, yet the diet bans soy in the first two weeks).