Trading the dazzling Hollywood for the sunny beaches of Florida, the South Beach Diet is the same hype, but coming from a different location, which should make it more palatable to those people who’ve had enough of Californian ideas. And though it comes from a different place, the South Beach Diet follows pretty much the same pattern as the rest of the high profile diets: a doctor comes up with an idea and, more important, with a way of marketing it, the new diet is tried by a lot of people, the book becomes a best-seller and a new hype is born.
But is there anything to this diet that can justify all the hype, the positive reviews and the scores of people ready to swear by the good book of Doctor Agatston or are we faced with yet another empty craze that should fade away any day? The answer is actually somewhere in the middle. Many people can testify to the fact that the South Beach Diet works, but what they will not testify is the price paid in terms of health.
As with the Atkins Diet and other famous weight loss plans, the South Beach Diet can boast some good results, which have been endorsed by two studies. One of the studies was conducted by Doctor Agatston himself, while the second one was commissioned by Kraft Foods, the company that bought the “South Beach Diet” trademark for a line of products designed to be used by people while on the diet.
But what is the real price of the South Beach Diet? In order to get the right answer we must first look at what the average user expects from this weight loss program. Like many others before, the South Beach Diet tells the user to avoid carbohydrates during the first phase, followed by a menu rich in low GI carbohydrates (such as fruits, cereals and low-fat milk) and ending in an open-ended phase that should go on for the rest of the user’s life.
Nevertheless, as any dietitian or nutritionist can explain, the first phase of the diet is simply unhealthy and likely to bring you trouble in the long run. Shedding between 8 and 13 pounds in the first two weeks of grueling dieting is a most appealing prospect, but it’s also very bad for the internal organs and muscle mass. The heart is especially strained by the rapid pace of weight loss, which is a bit ironic because Doctor Agatston is a cardiologist by trade.
The rapid weight loss has a secondary unwanted effect, which is to get the body used to such lean periods and to make it harder for you to shed weigh next time you try to use shock tactics. And let’s face it: most people who lose weight with a diet like the South Beach Diet aren’t likely to stick to the third phase for the rest of their lives. Nobody wants to deny him or herself good food for the next 50, 40 or 30 years.
Which means that after two or three years the average user would see the 8 to 13 pounds lost in two weeks come right back on the tummy and thighs. Everything will be back to normal, except for the added heart problems.