The South Beach Diet: Pros and Cons

The South Beach belongs to those few diets, the major principles of which are based on certain scientific data. Thus, speaking about the health benefits of the good fats, such as olive or canola oil, Dr. Agatston, the author of the South Beach Diet, mentions the Lyon Heart Study, which proved that monounsaturated fats decreased the risk of subsequent heart attacks occurrences by 70 %.

The recommendations of the diet to consume good carbohydrates and fiber are also based on the scientific data. The recent research, led by Dr. David S. Ludvig in Boston, USA, studied how different types of foods influenced hunger. Scientists compared three types of meals: the first type contained unprocessed carbohydrates (oatmeal) rich in fiber, the second was based on highly processed carbohydrates (instant oatmeal) and the third type of meal presented vegetable omelets typical for the South Beach Diet.

The results of the research showed that those people, who ate unprocessed carbs felt no hunger for a longer period of time in comparison to those participants, who consumed instant oatmeal. However, those, who followed the South Beach Diet recommendations, reported the lowest sensation of hunger among all the three groups of participants.

A significant part of the South Beach Diet recommendations is based on the glycemic index of foods, developed in 1980th by Dr. David Jenkins. This index shows how different types of food increase the levels of blood sugar. The South Beach Diet claims rapid and significant increase of blood sugar, caused by eating bad carbohydrates, to be the major culprit of the food cravings, hunger and obesity in the long run. That is why foods with low glycemic index prevail in the daily ration, recommended by the Sough Beach eating plan.

Finally, Dr. Agatston himself initiated the study to prove the effectiveness of the South Beach Diet. Though the study showed very promising results (13.6 pounds of weight loss), this research can hardly be treated as statistically important, since only 40 overweight volunteers participated in the experiment.

No doubt, the official scientific researches and data, proving the effectiveness and correctness of the South Beach Diet principles, are the most trustworthy advocates of the diet. However, these are not the only advantages of the said eating plan. The absence of meal portions limitations, no necessity to count the calorie value of meals and the vast variety of allowed food options make dieting with the South Beach easy and comfortable for most of people.

Still, the opponents of the South Beach Diet do not keep silence. The criticism spike is directed mainly at the initial phase of the diet, which is very restrictive, limiting the consumption of all the carbohydrates completely. Experts say that in such situation all the weight loss goes owing to water loss and not fat loss. As a result, after the carbohydrates intake is resumed, the excessive weight is likely to return.

Some experts still have doubts about the advisability of using the Glycemic Index for defining bad and good foods. They say that eliminating some of the nutritionally beneficial foods just because their glycemic index is high is not a very sound idea.

Another drawback of the diet is said to be its weak emphasis on exercises. Dr. Agatston does not give many of the exercising tips in his book, thus leaving a lot of questions on the role of physical training while following the South Beach Diet open.

Though all the major advantages, as well as drawbacks of the South Beach Diet, have been described above, the final verdict on the diet should still be reached by a dieter in cooperation with his physician, since all the diet principles, rules and recommendations should be first examined through the prism of personal eating habits, health condition and style of life.


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