What You Can Drink on the South Beach Diet


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The South Beach Diet's goal is to help you drop weight, burn fat, and balance your blood sugar—and in service to that goal, it removes refined carbohydrates, grains, beans/legumes, sugary drinks, and alcohol in Phase 1, which is the strictest phase of the diet.

In Phase 2, you add back some starchy veggies, beans, legumes, fruits (but not fruit juices), and whole grains. You stay in this phase until you reach your goal weight.

In Phase 3, you can add back a wide variety of foods in moderation.

So, given that any beverage sweetened with sugar is out of the question on South Beach, what do you drink when you're craving a sweet, refreshing beverage?

Beverage Rules 

Luckily, the diet outlines its rules for beverages as clearly as it does foods. The main rules regarding beverages are:

Beverage Ideas

Taking the rules into account, here's a list of what you can have with no guilt on the different phases of this diet.

  • Water, regular, sparkling, or with a squeeze of lemon
  • Tomato juice
  • Vegetable cocktail juice, such as V8 Vegetable Juice
  • Milk, within limits
  • Seltzer (unsweetened)
  • Club soda
  • Black coffee (or artificially sweetened), 1 to 2 cups daily
  • Decaf black coffee
  • Tea without sugar (hot or iced), 1 to 2 cups daily
  • Decaf tea, sugar-free
  • Dry wine with dinner after Phase One
  • Non-carbonated diet beverages, including sugar-free powdered mixes
  • Carbonated diet beverages in moderation (and caffeinated sodas, mainly non-decaf colas, included in the 1 to 2 daily serving limit)

Alcoholic Beverages on the South Beach Diet

Dry wine is preferred, in moderation and with a meal. Limit to 1 to 2 servings of 4 ounces each.

These beverages can be consumed on a limited basis, perhaps once or twice per week:

  • Mixed drinks that contain water or sugar-free mixers (no fruit juice) after Phase 1 
  • Light beer in Phase 3
  • Artificially sweetened coffee powders

Tips for Success 

Do your homework. Knowledge is power. Read, read, read all about the South Beach Diet before you take the plunge so you can prepare yourself, make space in your fridge and pantry for compliant foods, and get your family on board if needed.

Download the food lists. There are three phases to the South Beach Diet. The first phase, which lasts two weeks, is the most restrictive. More carbohydrates will be slowly reintroduced in the next two phases.

Plan your weekly menus. The success of any diet is measured by how prepared you are with available food and planned menus. It cuts down on just "grabbing something" because you don't have the ingredients on hand.

Build a support system. Friends, families, formal support groups are all important anytime you change the way you eat. It takes time to adjust and having someone to bounce your frustrations off is a good thing (provided they don't mind).

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Article Sources

  • South Beach Diet Handbook. PDF.