Beach diet or the South Beach diet is a heart friendly diet plan that advocates the consumption of “good fats” along with carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index. The diet, thus, focuses on eliminating refined sugar and Trans fatty acids, found in many heavily processed foods, from the diet plan. Though, the beach diet plan was formulated for the benefit of heart patients, it is today, followed by many as an effective weight loss diet regimen. Some popular Beach diet recipes include Greek Salad, Shrimp Scampi, Smoked Mushrooms, Stuffed Apples, Chocolate Dipped Fruits, Salmon Cakes, etc.
History and Origin of Beach Diet
The beach diet was conceptualized in Miami, by renowned cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon, during the early 1990s, as a more practical alternative to the already existing low-fat diet approaches like Ornish diet and Pritikin diet.
The early work on insulin resistance and glycemic index of foods by Dr. David Jenkins, in the 1980s led Dr. Agatston to believe that refined carbohydrates and food that caused sharp increase in blood sugar levels were as harmful as fats and oils in the diet. Thus, eliminating only fat from the diet was not enough, both “bad fat” and “bad carbohydrate” had to be restricted. However, he differed in his approach from the other low carb diets like the Atkins diet, and proposed that right amounts of carbohydrates and fibers were essential for healthy functioning of the body.
Though developed in early 1990s, the diet gained mass popularity after the release of Dr. Agatston’s first book, The South Beach Diet, in the year 2003.
Dietary Laws Governing Food Consumption under South Beach Diet Plan
Dr. Agatston, bases his diet plan on insulin resistance and glycemic index theory proposed by Dr. David Jenkins. In accordance with this theory, the South Beach diet plan advocates the followers to avoid:
• Bad fat – This includes all the saturated fats that come from animal resources, Trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol rich foods.
• Bad Carbohydrates – These are the carbohydrates that are low in fiber and/or have a high glycemic index. Such carbohydrates are supposed to bring about insulin resistance and increase the risk of developing conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Instead, the diet plan recommends the followers to include:
• Good fat – These are the unsaturated fats like poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and other essential fatty acids.
• Good Carbs: These are the fiber rich carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index.
However, to achieve maximum benefit of the South Beach diet, one must follow a healthy lifestyle pattern, which is free from unhealthy practices like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise.
Typical Diet Routine Based on Beach Diet
The South Beach diet plan is divided into 3 phases and the diet routine in each phase differs greatly from the previous one.
Phase 1: This is the first 2 weeks of the diet plan. In this stage, the participant is supposed to eliminate all simple carbohydrates, including sugars, processed carbs, fruits, and low fiber vegetables and other foods with high glycemic index. The meal plan includes frequent but small meals, in an attempt to curb the hunger cycle. Here is a sample Phase 1 meal plan
Breakfast: Tomato juice, along with scrambled egg whites with herbs and mushrooms, and de-caffeinated tea/coffee with sugar substitute
Mid Morning Snack: 1 slice Low fat cheese
Lunch: Chicken Caesar Salad with Caesar Dressing
Evening Snack: Low fat Protein shake
Dinner: Baked vegetables, with grilled fish, and Greek salad.
Dessert: Lemon Peel Ricotta Crème.
Phase 2: This is more liberal than the previous phase and re-introduces many high fruits, vegetables, and grains into the diet. This phase can be continued until the participant reaches his ideal weight requirements. An ideal Phase 2 meal plan would essentially be quite similar to the phase 1 meal plan; however, the following Beach diet dishes may be included:
Breakfast: Low fat milk
Mid Morning Snack: Fruit or Fruit salad
Lunch: A serving of High fiber rice (brown rice)
Evening Snack: Juices
Dinner: A serving of whole grain bread
Dessert: Fruit yogurt.
Phase 3: This is the maintenance plan and lasts for life. The phase 3 diet plan aims at retaining the health benefits achieved by following the previous phases of the Beach diet. This is most liberal of the 3 phases. The extra snack meals may be avoided. However, the doctrines of low glycemic carbs and good fats must be followed.
Health Benefits of Beach diet Recipes
The proponents of Beach diet claim that it provides a long term solution for weight loss and weight control through behavior and lifestyle modification, rather than a series of short-term diets. Also, due to the emphasis on low glycemic foods, the diet plan is supposed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Cindy Moore, RD, a former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, termed the South Beach diet as a healthy diet plan, which does not eliminate any major food groups and emphasizes on the consumption of whole fruits and vegetables.
Beach Diet Trivia
Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Lorna Luft, and Nicole Kidman are among the famous celebrities who have endorsed the South Beach Diet.