Diet Plans & Programs: The "Skinny" on Popular Diet Plans

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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The South Beach Diet

(Arthur Agatston, MD)

The Diet Plan Theory

The South Beach diet is the newest high-protein, low carbohydrate, and fat-controlled diet. This diet claims that the cause for obesity "is simple: The faster the sugars and the starches you eat are processed and absorbed into your bloodstream, the fatter you get." The goal is to "take out bad fats and bad carbohydrates." Like many of the fad diets, it is divided into different phases. The first phase claims to eliminate cravings and kick-start weight loss; the second phase is for long-term, steady weight loss; and the third phase is to be followed for 365 days a year once you have achieved your weight loss goal.

Advantages

The second and third phases of this diet promote a balanced diet that can be beneficial to your health and weight. These phases promote consistent meal times, healthy snacks and desserts, and water. The meal plans and recipes can be useful for those who need some guidance on what to eat. There are now six other books and an interactive web site supporting this plan.

Disadvantages

The theory behind the diet is not the reason you will lose weight if you follow this plan. Weight loss can only occur when you consume fewer calories than your body needs. In the introduction chapter the author makes numerous claims that you do not need to limit the quantity of food that you consume and then provides portion restrictions on many high calorie foods, such as nuts. It's appealing to hear you can eat unlimited quantities, but weight loss will not be achieved without limitations.

The initial phase of this diet should be avoided. This two-week phase claims to produce a weight loss of eight to 13 pounds with severe dietary restrictions; including fruit, dairy, and starches. Phases like this are usually included so people see quick results, but are limited in time because they are not nutritionally balanced and can't be followed for a long period. It tends to be more discouraging than motivating to lose quickly and to feel like you are "on a diet." Long-term weight loss and maintenance takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work. It's best to begin slowly and to always consume a nutritionally balanced diet.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2015

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