The South Beach Diet (cont.)

Moore said the diet truly does meet several of the criteria for a healthy diet. It's rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, she said. Most importantly, it doesn't leave out any major food groups.

Moore warned that during the induction phase, much of the lost weight is water weight. Losing this much water can throw your electrolyte balance off. So if you're following the diet, it's a good idea to work closely with a registered dietitian or your doctor.

Despite the popularity of the South Beach diet, Moore warned, there's no one-size-fits-all diet. A dietitian can help you individualize the South Beach diet to fit your health needs.

Food for Thought

Most popular diets work -- at first -- because of their novelty. Also, the first pounds lost usually are water from your tissues, not fat itself. Over time, your tissues will rehydrate. That's no reason to get discouraged. If you're eating less, eating better foods, and getting enough exercise, you will become leaner.

One big plus for the South Beach diet is that it doesn't leave you in limbo. It recommends healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle long after you give up on ever getting back a loaned-out copy of the book.

The reason you diet may be to look better. There's nothing wrong with that. But the reason to become healthy is to have a strong heart, strong lungs, and healthy bones. There's nothing wrong with that, either.

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD February 2004.

SOURCES: Agatston, A. The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss, Rodale Press, April 2003. The South Beach Diet web site. WebMD Feature: "South Beach Diet Is Hot; Here's Why." WebMD Live Event Transcript: "The South Beach Diet -- Arthur Agatston, MD -- 7/23/03."

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Last Editorial Review: 5/25/2005