Meal Plans for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet

Eating Well During the Restrictive Phase

Shrimp stir fry
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In 2003, Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist based in Florida, had grown increasingly concerned that the Atkins diet, a program based on the restriction of carbohydrates, encouraged dieters to consume far more saturated fats than was healthy. While it was clear that the diet could produce results, Dr. Agatston believed there was there was a better way to lose weight without increasing a person's risk of diabetes or heart disease.

With years of hands-on medical experience to draw upon, Dr. Agatston went to his computer and created a program all his own. With that, the South Beach Diet was born.

Similarities and Differences

Both the Atkins and South Beach diet are structurally identical. Each is down into a two-week restrictive phase (Phase 1), a main weight loss phase (Phase 2), and the maintenance phase once you've achieved your ideal weight (Phase 3). Both restrict carbohydrates and identify which ones are "good" and which are "bad."

The main differences between the two diets are that the South Beach diet has less saturated fat and doesn't limit non-starchy vegetables. It also introduces fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables into the diet far earlier, during Phase 2, when Atkin's allows only a small amount of fruit.

The Real Differences Between the Atkins and South Beach Diet

Phase 1 Goals

With the South Beach diet, the goal of Phase 1 is to stop the highs and lows in your blood sugar caused by the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Phase 1 is considered the most difficult of all phases and requires you to give up things like pasta, bread, fruit, and refined sugar.

In their place, you would be given high-protein foods like meats, poultry, pork, seafood, and some dairy. You would also be encouraged to eat lots of vegetables and to replace bad fats with healthy ones.

While it may seem daunting at first to have to give up bread, fruits, and other foods you love, you won't be starved. Rather, you would be encouraged to eat heartily from a list of low-glycemic foods that are just as filling but far less likely to affect your blood sugar. You may be surprised at how long the list of approved foods is.

How to Survive the First Phase of South Beach Diet

During Phase 1, you would eat three meals and two snacks per day, alongside an optional sweet. By eating six times a day, the intake of nutrition would essentially be continual and you would be less prone to fluctuations in blood sugar.

To get a better idea of what the South Beach diet entails, it is important to look at how a typical daily meal plan is put together during Phase 1.

Phase 1 Breakfasts

For Phase 1 of the South Beach diet, breakfast would consist of:

  • A serving of protein, such as eggs, meat, tofu, or cottage cheese
  • At least one serving of vegetables, tomato juice, or vegetable juice
  • A calorie-free beverage such as coffee or tea

With the exception of dairy, there is no restriction on the types of approved foods you can eat. While Dr. Agatston does offer suggested serving sizes, he encourages you to eat a little more if you are hungry rather than feeling deprived.

Phase 1 Lunches

Phase 1 lunches should consist of:

  • A serving of approved protein
  • Several servings of vegetables, especially salads
  • One to two tablespoons of salad dressing
  • A third to a half a cup of beans or legumes
  • Dairy, if needed (within the prescribed limits)
  • A calorie-free beverage, including plain water

While the serving size of the protein is not limited, you should make every effort not to overeat to where you feel stuffed.

Phase 1 Dinners

Phase 1 dinners should consist of:

  • A serving of approved protein
  • Several servings of vegetables, including beans and legumes
  • Dairy (again, within the daily limit)
  • One to two tablespoons of an approved fat for cooking or for dressing vegetables
  • A calorie-free beverage

To keep satisfied, Dr. Agatston encourages dieters to switch things up as much as possible by finding low-carb recipes that deliver a variety of flavors, such as Italian, Asian, or Mexican.

Phase 1 Snacks

The South Beach diet requires you to eat two snacks per day. The ideal snack would have both a vegetable and protein component.

For example, you could stuff celery with tuna salad, dip raw vegetables into a bean dip, or make a lettuce, tomato, and lunch meat roll-up. Nuts are also excellent as they are a great source of protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fat.

Phase 1 Desserts

While dessert is not required on the South Beach diet, it is something that many people enjoy. By and large, many of the approved desserts involve flavored ricotta cheese. There are also a number of tasty sugar-free sweets that weigh in at a mere 75 calories.

In the end, any acceptable snack would be fine in the evening if you are hungry. The main goals are to avoid eating out of control and to consume enough to leave you satiated and not stuffed.

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