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The South Beach Diet is a heart-healthy option for losing weight.
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Fad diets come and go, but every so often a weight-loss program proves to be both effective and healthy. Created in the 1990s by Dr. Arthur Agatston, the South Beach diet is best described as a hybrid of the old-school, no-carb Atkins diet and the lusciously healthy Mediterranean diet. This lower-carbohydrate, heart-healthy diet will not only help you lose weight and keep it off, but its sound nutritional principles will have you feeling and looking your best.
The First Phase
Phase One of the South Beach diet is the most restrictive. You may not have fruits, fruit juices, grains, certain starchy vegetables, high-fat proteins and dairy or alcohol. You will also have to avoid any added sugars and processed flour. This phase lasts only 14 days, but it can be a challenge. If at all possible, clear your home of any tempting foods on the forbidden list and plan your meals so you don't have to make decisions while hungry. You might drop 5 pounds or more during this first phase as your body releases water weight caused by factors such as the high sodium content in processed foods.
The Second Phase
This next phase has no time limit built in. Instead, it's designed for you to follow until you've reached your weight-loss goal. During this phase, you should continue eating as you have been, but you can also have up to three servings of fruit and up to four servings of grains per day. You can also have an occasional small serving of light beer or dry wine. The best way to ensure that your weight loss continues during this phase is to keep avoiding all processed flours, refined sugars and whole fat dairy. Concentrate on getting your full servings of vegetables and fruits, lean protein and healthy snacks, and you can expect to lose anywhere from 1 to 2.5 pounds per week. Losing weight any faster may deprive your body of vital nutrients and rob your skin of elasticity, so slow and steady wins this particular race. At this pace, losing 20 pounds should take eight to 12 weeks.
The Final Phase
The final phase of the South Beach Diet is one that you should be able to follow for the rest of your life. There are no forbidden foods, and you're allowed to take an occasional cheat day. If you gain more than 5 pounds in one week and it hasn't vanished by the end of the month, simply go back to the first or second phase until you're back at your goal weight.
Tips and Hints
Weight loss generally happens faster if you combine your diet with exercise. Do at least 15 minutes of an aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming every day and 30 minutes of resistance training with free weights or exercise equipment at least three times per week.