Compared to diets where you have to carefully count calories, carbs or points, and meticulously measure and weigh your food, the South Beach Diet claims that it places less rigorous demands on you. However, that's not entirely accurate -- there's still some measuring and counting involved. On page 111 of the original plan's book, "South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss," it states, "The South Beach Diet doesn't require you to measure what you eat in ounces, calories, or anything else." But then on the following page, in the menu for "Day 1," it lists a 6-ounce serving of vegetable juice cocktail for breakfast and you're to top your lunch salad with exactly two tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette. One way it is different from some diets, though, is that you're encouraged to include snacks in between each major meal.
The main point of the South Beach Diet is to make you healthier by eliminating any cravings you have for foods listed as "bad carbs," which include refined sugar products like cake, candy and soda. Unlike the Atkins plan, which shuns carbs altogether, the South Beach Diet does allow you to eat some carbohydrates, but only those that are considered good carbs, such as vegetables, whole grains and fruit.
The South Beach Diet works to accomplish its goal of making you a healthier eater in three separate phases. The first phase, often referred to as the induction phase, is very strict and is meant to push you to the point of eliminating bad-carb cravings. This is when you must give up a host of bad carbohydrates -- such as baked goods and sweets -- for 14 days. The appealing part of this phase is that you could lose eight to 12 pounds. The second phase is when you can slowly start to incorporate more of the good carbs back into your diet. You decide how long you are in phase two, however long it takes you to hit your target weight. And once you move into phase three, you should be on the track to lifelong healthful eating habits [source: South Beach Diet Plan for Beginner].
Interestingly, there was no corresponding exercise routine to go along with the original South Beach Diet plan. However, a three-phase interval workout and body-toning program has been added to the plan in "The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life." In this book, Dr. Agatston enlists the help of Dr. Joseph Signorile, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Miami.
Ready to learn about the first phase of the South Beach Diet? Head to the next page to find out what foods are permitted in this phase.