The South Beach Diet, a low-carb, high-protein diet plan, claims that participants can lose 8 to 13 pounds during the first two weeks, known as "phase one." During this time period, the diet focuses on vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, nuts and limited carbs coming only from fibrous vegetables and legumes. Although it can successfully kick-start a new diet, says U.S. News and World Report, its restrictive nature can make it difficult to figure out what to eat.
The Basics of Phase I
If you want to lose 10 pounds or more, the South Beach Diet recommends starting with phase one, the strictest phase of the eating plan. According to its creators, phase one should stabilize blood sugar, eliminate cravings and jump-start weight loss. To prepare, clean your cupboards of most carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, crackers, cereals and other grains, and toss fruits, which aren't allowed until phase two.
The Power of Protein
Although protein isn't limited in phase one of the South Beach Diet, stick to lean options that contains less than 5 grams of fat per 2- to 3-ounce serving. Top choices include skinless turkey, chicken or duck breast; pork tenderloin; fish and shellfish; soy-based meat alternatives; and lean beef such as flank steak, tenderloin and lean ground beef. Eggs, nuts and seeds also help with a protein boost, as do legumes such as beans.
Healthy Fat Options
The amount of fat during phase one of the South Beach Diet is slightly higher than the government-recommended amount of 20 to 35 percent of calories per day. However, you shouldn't go crazy during phase one -- stick to healthy fats such as olives and olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil and avocado. Salad dressings that have 3 grams of sugar or less are allowed, as are 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil spread. The proper serving size for an avocado is one-third of a whole fruit, while 15 olives and 2 tablespoons of oil are each considered one serving.
Limit Your Carbohydrates
Although South Beach is a low-carbohydrate plan, it does allow for some carbs, particularly those rich in fiber. All sorts of legumes, including black beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, chickpeas and lentils, are approved. Fill up on acceptable vegetables, too, such as spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli and artichokes.
Don't Forget Dairy
Dairy products provide a mixture of fat, carbohydrates and protein, but not all dairy is approved to eat on South Beach. Stick to low-fat options, including cheese, milk, yogurt, buttermilk and soymilk. You can also enjoy 2 tablespoons of light or fat-free cream cheese. Aim to get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day from dairy products and other calcium-rich foods.
A diet without any treats can leave you feeling deprived. If your sweet tooth sings to you, look for sugar-free versions of ice pops, gelatin, jams and jellies or syrup. You can also have unsweetened cocoa powder made from 100 percent cacao. However, limit these options to 75 calories per day.
- U.S. News and World Report: South Beach Diet Reviews
- U.S. News and World Report: South Beach Diet
- South Beach Diet: What Can I Eat?
- South Beach Diet: Curb Hunger with Lean Protein
- South Beach Diet: South Beach Diet Phase 1
- South Beach Diet: Say Cheese!
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The South Beach Diet Super Charged