The South Beach Diet: How it Works

Decreased body fat and bad cholesterol level along with the increased cardiac health and good cholesterol level are among the key results, promised by the South Beach Diet. However, such declarations are typical for most of the diet plans, developed recently. Still, in order to make a positive decision concerning the diet, we need to look deeper at the backstage of the diet performance.

Happily, Dr. Agatston, who created the South Beach Diet, not only declares the alluring results for a dieter in his book, but also shows in great details how to achieve the expected results and, what is even of more importance, the author explains the internal processes, provoked by the diet in human organism, due to which the diet goals are achieved.

Fat, protein and carbohydrates are the main constituents of all the foods we consume; so, let us find out how these food groups interact with the human body through the prism of the South Beach Diet.

Carbohydrates, found in the great variety of foods, such as fruits, bread, rice, pasta, vegetables, bakery, are the major source of energy for humans. However, not all the carbohydrates are equally useful and sound. There are good carbs and bad carbs, says Dr. Agatston in his book on the South Beach Diet.

All the processed carbohydrates (bakery, white bread, instant oatmeal, fried potatoes etc.), as well as those with high Glycemic index, are considered to be bad carbs and should be avoided within the South Beach Diet. The reason is in the process of carbohydrates digestion. Any carbohydrates are transformed into sugar, called glucose, during the digestion. However, when a person consumes bad carbs, the level of glucose increases drastically and this process is very rapid.

Glucose is fuel for all the body organs, but it cannot be used by them without insulin hormone. So, in response to the increase of glucose amount the level of insulin in blood also increases drastically. It is the point where vicious circle appears: the increased amount of insulin requires more carbs, causing food cravings, which make a person eat more and more carbohydrates. As the result, carbs bring too much glucose into human body. Of course, certain amount of it is burned as the fuel for usual activities, but all the rest is stored as the excessive body fat.

Another group of carbohydrates (whole grain bread, certain fruits and vegetables) are called “good”, because they do not cause a dramatic increase of blood sugar level. On the contrary, good carbs are transformed into glucose gradually, thus keeping the feeling of hunger away for a longer period of time.

Restricting the intake of bad carbs and promoting the consumption of good carbohydrates is the only way to start loosing weight, according to the South Beach Diet.

Fat is another component of any eating plan. Dr. Agatston’s approach to fats does not differ much from his classification of carbohydrates. One of the chapters in the South Beach Diet book is called “Good fats, bad fats”; it gives basic description of the role fats play in one’s eating regimen.

Since the South Beach Diet is called to improve cardiac health of the dieters, this program recommends avoiding all the saturated and trans fats and welcomes consuming unsaturated fats. The sources of good fats are olive and canola oil, fish and nuts.

The book gives many examples and even describes the results of clinical studies, showing that the South Beach Diet improves cholesterol level in dieters, decreasing the LDL level (bad cholesterol, which clogs blood vessels, contributing to the development of heart attacks, strokes and hypertension), while increasing the HDL level (good cholesterol).

It is worthy to underline that the way South Beach Diet affects the bad cholesterol is rather unique. Dr. Agatston says that following his eating recommendations helps not only to decrease the amount of bad cholesterol particles, but to increase their size. It is suggested that larger particles cannot penetrate the blood vessels lining easily and narrow them; so the risk of arteries clogging is reduced.

The role of fiber in foods is also of key impotence within the South Beach Diet. Fiber helps to digest food in a proper way. In the unprocessed carbohydrates fiber binds all the sugars, so it takes time for the human digestive system to get all the sugars from food. On the other hand, when food is processed, fiber is either destroyed or removed, so sugars are easily transformed into glucose, which gets into blood stream very quickly.

One of the basic postulates of the South Beach Diet says: “The faster your body absorbs sugars and starches, the fatter you get”. Consequently, good carbs and fats, low glycemic products and fiber - in general all the recommendations and rules of the South Beach Diet aim at helping a dieter achieve the strategic goal: slow down the process of carbohydrates digestion in his body.


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