Grains and Starches Allowed on the South Beach Diet


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The South Beach Diet is a low-carb diet like no other. Most don't allow starches or grains little if at all, but this diet is different. Here's the list of approved grains at each phase of the South Beach Diet.

Starches and Grains List — South Beach Diet Phase One

In Phase One of the South Beach Diet, no starches or grains are approved.

This includes all:

  • Breads (including muffins, biscuits, bagels, pancakes, etc)
  • Cereals (hot or cold)
  • Grains (rice, wheat, oats, etc)
  • Anything made with flour
  • Starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, beets, etc 

Starches and Grains — Phase Two

During Phase Two, some starches and whole grains are gradually phased back in. It is very important to add these foods slowly and watch for negative reactions – carb cravings, not feeling as good, or weight gain.
Foods That Can Be Added in Phase Two. Note that “whole grains” means 100% whole grains. “Wheat flour” is code for “white flour” on labels. It must say WHOLE for every grain listed.

Baked Goods, Breads, Crackers, Etc.

  • 1 piece (1 oz) 100% whole grain bread
  • ½ small or 1 oz of 100% whole grain bagel
  • Crackers – 100% whole grain with no trans fats and at least 3 grams of fiber per ounce – 1 oz per serving
  • Crispbread, Rye – 2 pieces
  • 1 small homemade sugar-free muffin
  • 1 small whole grain tortilla with at least 3 grams of fiber per ounce


Cereals should have at least 6 grams of fiber and less than 6 grams of sugar per serving – occasional servings up to 8 grams of sugar. Oatmeal or other hot cereals should be slow-cooked, and not instant or quick-cooking varieties. Hot cereals made of refined grains, such as Cream of Wheat, are not allowed. Examples:

  • All Bran with Extra Fiber- 1/2 cup
  • Bran Buds – 1/3 cup (occasional)
  • Fiber One – 1/2 cup
  • Kashi, Go Lean – 1/2 cup
  • Shredded Wheat – 1/2 cup
  • Shredded Wheat and Bran – 1 oz
  • South Beach Diet Cereals (servings on box)
  • Buckwheat Groats – 1/2 cup
  • Oat Bran – 1/2 cup
  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal - 1/2 cup
  • Steel-Cut Oats – 1/2 cup

Cooked Grains

Most cooked whole grains are acceptable, in a serving size of 1/2 cup. Exceptions are millet and cornmeal or grits. Couscous is acceptable. Although Agatston never explicitly states he means whole grain couscous, this seems to clearly be the best route, as regular couscous has a high glycemic index and would seem to be counter to Agatston’s basis for the diet (the glycemic index of whole grain couscous is not available). Examples of acceptable whole cooked grains:

  • Amaranth – ½ cup for all grains
  • Barley, pearled
  • Buckwheat (kasha)
  • Bulgar
  • Oats, whole kernel (groats)
  • Rice, brown
  • Rice, wild
  • Rye, whole kernel
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat, whole kernel

Pasta and Popcorn

  • 100% Whole wheat pasta – 1 cup cooked, al dente
  • Other Whole Grain Pasta (e.g. brown rice) – 1 cup – occasional only
  • Popcorn, air popped, plain - 2 cups

Starchy Vegetables

All Servings ½ cup

Grains and Starches to Be Avoided — All Phases 

  • Any food made partly or completely with white flour, or any baked good made with sugars of any kind, for example, cookies, cakes, pies
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Corn in any form (1 serving corn as a vegetable allowed “rarely” – every 2-3 months)
  • Potatoes in any form
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Cereals not included above
  • Pizza
  • Rice Cakes
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