Why is the South Beach Diet Safe

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet does without fruit, white flour and sugar (Photo by: Peteer / Depositphotos)

Story and concept

Dr. Arthur Agatston practices on beautiful South Beach in Miami, hence the name of the diet. He treated people with severe heart problems, most of whom had to change their diet, and began to deal with various diet concepts.

Among other things, he came across the Atkins diet, which drastically reduces carbohydrates while allowing fat as a substitute. Dr. Agatston modified this by distinguishing between "good" and "bad" types of fats, a concept familiar from many other approaches.

In the early 2000s he wrote his book "South Beach Diet", which appeared in German for the first time in 2004 and found enthusiastic followers, because the weight loss effect is very significant in the first few days. Cookbooks by Dr. Agatston followed and sold well.

His concept: fats are eaten, but only the good vegetable oils and high-fat nuts. Animal fat is taboo except for fish oil.

When it comes to carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and legumes are allowed, i.e. those foods that make the blood sugar level rise only gradually.

Potatoes, everything made from white flour (baked goods and pasta) and sugar are less popular, if not entirely forbidden.

This is where the glycemic index comes in, which is the area under the 2-hour blood sugar curve after consuming 50 grams of various carbohydrates. If the level rises quickly, the area becomes large, so the index is high.

The reference value is the glucose index of 100. However, the diet only prescribes types, not quantities, of foods. That makes them popular, but also prone to failure.

How does the South Beach Diet work?

Main meals should be eaten three times a day, with three additional snacks in between. There are three phases of the South Beach Diet:

  1. Phase: strictest ban on potatoes, baked goods, pasta, rice, sweets, fruit, ice cream, alcohol and fruit juices. This eliminates almost all carbohydrates. Please note: "Good" fat can definitely be eaten. This phase should last up to 14 days.
  2. Phase: Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index can be consumed again, i.e. whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, white flour, potatoes, rice and sweets are prohibited. Duration of this phase: until the desired weight is reached.
  3. Phase: In principle, everything can be eaten again, but the harmful carbohydrates only in small quantities and only as long as the desired weight is maintained. If you gain weight, carbohydrates are reduced. As with all other diets, this phase lasts for life. There is no sports recommendation. No wonder, the diet was developed for people with heart problems who are not sent to jog.


At first there are rapid weight loss successes, mixed food with vegetable fat is also healthy, as are fruit, vegetables and fish. The 3rd phase is generally aimed at healthy eating and does not harm anyone.


The renunciation of fruit in the radical phase 1 appears questionable, as does the replacement of carbohydrates with (albeit "good") fats and protein. Avoiding whole grains and legumes cuts the ballast metabolism.

What happens to blood fat in the long term cannot yet be researched, the diet is too young. The meaning of the glycemic index is scientifically controversial. And without movement there is a quick yo-yo effect.


A diet that is not for everyone. Some recommendations, such as completely avoiding fruit, even for 14 days, seem unnecessary or nonsensical.

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