The three-phase South Beach diet promises weight loss through a celebration of healthful foods and enjoyable meals. The later phases rest on the well-researched glycemic index, a tool that helps people use balanced meals rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats and good carbohydrates to control hunger and calorie consumption. The optional phase one of the diet outlines a more restrictive jump-start to the program.
Phase 1 of the South Beach diet does not require you to count calories, carbohydrates or anything else. Instead, you eliminate all starches, sugar and alcohol for two weeks. This includes fruit, potatoes and whole grains as well as refined breads and sweets. You are, however, allowed to eat beans. The diet also encourages you to eat five times per day, with three meals and two snacks.
Dr. Arthur Agatston, the creator of the diet, argues teaching people to count calories or measure ounces undermines the natural pleasure of eating and is, therefore, difficult to sustain long term. Phase 1 recommended meals, however, contain 200 to 400 calories per entree and 100 to 200 calories for side dishes, snacks and desserts.
The South Beach diet aims to help you identify good and poor food choices, which is supposed to lead you to natural portion and calorie control. This is why phase 1 of the plan is so restrictive. It is designed to stabilize your blood sugar and help you get over cravings for refined carbohydrates.