Phase 1 of The South Beach Diet

What You Need to Know Before Trying This Weight Loss Program

Sliced Chicken Breast Salad
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The South Beach Diet is a popular diet plan that's based on cutting "bad" carbohydrates from the diet and encourages the consumption of "good" carbs and healthy fats. There are three phases to the program. If you're interested in trying it, here's what to expect during the first one.

The First 14 Days Are the Toughest

The two-week-long Phase 1 of The South Beach Diet often is referred to as the "strict" part of the plan.

It requires 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. You can find more specifics on the South Beach Diet "Foods to Avoid" list.

You won't go hungry though. There are plenty of foods allowed during Phase 1, foods that rank low on the glycemic index and are prepared in a healthy way—lean proteins like turkey breast and most vegetables.

What is the Purpose of Phase 1?

Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is designed to get you used to a new way of eating right out of the gate, a way to help you jumpstart new 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 of 14 pounds in two weeks.

Even better, you'll likely notice it around your belly.

A 14-pound loss won't be possible if you don't that much to lose, of course. In fact, if your goal is to shed just a few pounds, it's possible you can skip Phase 1 altogether.  If you do not have much weight to lose, you may skip this phase. And if you can go back to Phase 1 if, during the later phases, you stop losing weight or even start gaining, to get back on track.

Staying 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, and doesn't include many 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.