Similar to the Atkins diet, the South beach diet is subdivided in 3 phases, with the first lasting only two weeks. The main objective during this period is to eradicate your carb cravings, by choosing foods to stabilise blood sugar throughout the day and start your weight loss. This diet is best suited for people that are pre-diabetic or diabetic and need to lose large amounts of weight.
Foods allowed during these two weeks include those rich in protein, including lean or skinless meat, fish and seafood. Alternatively, vegetarians can opt for tofu and various types of beans. In addition, also on the list are vegetables rich in fibre, low fat dairy products (including cheeses), eggs and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil or nuts and seeds. The purpose is to get your metabolism used to high fibre foods, low in refined carbohydrates, to extend your hunger cycles. This way, you will fill full for longer and feel less inclined to snack.
Obviously, this is the starting point for new dieters, which should remain at this stage for at least two weeks. If you already reached stage 3 but noticed that the weight is going up again, it may be beneficial to drop back to stage 1 until that extra weight is lost, before returning to stage 3.
The only exceptions to this rule are nursing women and children, who should start this diet directly at stage 2, skipping stage 1 altogether. In both cases, this diet should only be tried after consultation with your healthcare provider. Also, if you only need to lose a small amount of weight, it may be more beneficial to your health to start t stage 2 and lose those extra pounds slowly instead of risking nutrient deficiencies.
As a general rule, it’s not advisable to stay in stage 1 for longer than two weeks, in particular if you have a BMI less than 30. The only exception Dr Agatston considered was if you have a large amount of weight to lose (BMI higher than 35), it’s possible to remain at this phase for up to 2 months, but it’s not for long-term use. In this case, exercise is highly recommended as a way to help lose weight. Dr Agatston emphasises that even in morbidly obese dieters, it’s not compulsory to stay in this stage for longer than 2 weeks. It’s possible to continue to stage 2 and still continue to lose weight, just at a slower rate.
Those dieters that start this diet with a BMI lower than 30 should only stay at this stage for the recommended two weeks. If not you may find that your metabolism lowers so much that you stop losing weight, and you will re-gain all weight lost very quickly once you stop stage 1. Progressing to phase 2 and 3 at the right time for you is an important element in this diet. Once you past stage 1, you may re-introduce certain carbohydrates back in your diet, to move towards a healthy balanced diet.
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