WHAT IT IS A three-phase plan that has been likened to the low-carbohydrate Atkins program
because during the first two weeks, South Beach eliminates most carbs, including bread, pasta,
potatoes, fruit and most dairy products. In PHASE 2, healthy carbs, including most fruits, whole
grains and dairy products are gradually reintroduced, but processed carbs such as bagels,
cookies, cornflakes, regular pasta and rice cakes remain on the list of foods to avoid or eat rarely.
Ditto for carrots, corn, bananas, raisins, pineapple, fruit juice and watermelon. This phase lasts
until the weight goal is reached. In Phase 3, adherents are urged to stick mostly with the same
foods as in PHASE 2. Agatston notes, however, that lapses are inevitable and dieters may need
to “switch back to PHASE 1 for a week or two” when they overindulge and regain weight.
PHILOSOPHY The program is based largely on reducing or eliminating foods with a high
glycemic index — a measure of the rise in blood sugar after eating a particular food. The South
Beach Diet, Agatston writes, “corrects the way your body reacts to the very foods that made you
overweight,” especially sugar.
Reality Check: “The glycemic index is interesting,” notes Wadden, but there isn’t enough
evidence to prove its effectiveness in weight loss. Adds Wing, “For weight loss, the bottom line
continues to be calories, not the glycemic index.”