The Details on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet

The proper way to kick off the weight-loss program

Sliced Chicken Breast Salad
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The South Beach Diet is a popular diet plan based on cutting "bad" carbohydrates and focusing on the consumption of "good" carbs and healthy fats. There are three phases to the program; here's what to expect during the first couple weeks.

Phase One of the South Beach Diet: 

People often refer to Phase 1 of The South Beach Diet as the "strict" part of the plan. It requires two weeks of following the most stringent rules about what you can and cannot eat. Depending on your current diet, this may mean giving up common foods like pasta, bread, fruit, and flavored yogurts. To find more specific details, review the South Beach Diet "Foods to Avoid" list.

Don't worry, though, you won't go hungry during this initial phase. You'll still have plenty of foods to choose from during Phase 1. This includes foods that rank low on the glycemic index and items you can prepare in a healthy way, like lean proteins, including turkey breast, and most vegetables.

The Purpose of Phase 1

Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is designed to get you used to a new way of eating and to help you jumpstart healthier habits. It's also meant to relieve cravings for sugar and starches, according to Arthur Agatston, the doctor who developed the diet. As an added benefit, it's possible to lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time during Phase 1. Depending on your starting weight, you could lose as many as 14 pounds in two weeks—that is, if you have the weight to lose. 

If your goal is to shed just a few pounds, it's possible for you to skip Phase 1 altogether. On the contrary, if you stop losing weight during the later phases or even start gaining, you can go back to Phase 1 to get back on track.

When You Should Stay in Phase 1 Longer

With a doctor's green light, someone who's morbidly obese can safely stay on Phase 1 for more than two weeks, but not more than two months; it's not safe to make it a long-term eating plan. There isn't enough variety to be nutritionally sound, for one thing. Plus, Phase 1 doesn't include several still-healthy foods that you really should be eating that are added back in during Phase 2.

If you're breastfeeding and want to lose some of those lingering baby pounds, you may be able to try the South Beach Diet as long as your gynecologist thinks it's safe for you and your baby's pediatrician isn't worried it will affect your milk production. Skip Phase 1, though, and start by following the healthy eating guidelines in Phase 2 or Phase 3.

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