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The South Beach Diet

A diet that has become more popular since the start of the millennium, it was created by the dietician Marie Almon and a cardiologist, Arthur Agatston. Following a very simplistic design, the concept of the diet is to replace what is termed as "bad-carbs" and "bad-fats" with healthy alternatives pre-defined by the diet.

Agatston believed that previous creations of the low-carbohydrate diet, such as Atkins, were far too limiting in food allowances. He claimed that the excess calories were found elsewhere in foods that were particularly high in sugars, this lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and raised insulin, which when deprived would cause hunger pains, which would then lead the participant back to eating more sugary food. As such the diet merely reduces certain carbohydrates while allowing the addition of others to compensate and remove the urge to eat high sugar foods.

Alcohol for the most part is prohibited, though small measurements of red wine may be drunk on very few occasions. Throughout the diet the participant must abstain from alcohol with a one day exception where dieters may gorge themselves, This is classed as the "Oktoberfest" exception and was introduced by Arthur Agatston because of his love for the world famous beer-festival. Others have chosen to pick other holiday specific days, such as New Year or St. Patrick's.

The diet after this, is segmented into three stages;

1. Phase 1 - The first stage of this diet tends to be the most extreme, like with any diets dealing with major reductions in normal eating habits. In this first stage, all sugars are removed, along with any processed carbohydrates which covers ingredients such as white bread, pasta or rice, any vegetables that may be high in sugar and all fruits.

This stage of the diet will last for approximately 2 weeks and is where most participants will lose the majority of the weight as the body's metabolism readjusts itself to lacking sugars. After roughly 14 days, insulin levels will have lowered and the body will begin to metabolise stored fat to regulate blood sugar level. It is theorised that this stage will inhibit the hunger cycle.

2. Phase 2 - This stage will continue until the dieter has reached their goal weight, this will follow along the same restrictions started in phase 1, however during the course of the week, the diet will gradually reintroduce certain foods. Fruit and high fibre, nutritional carbohydrates such as whole grain foods will be added week by week. This will continue and aims to stay below the threshold for gaining weight. This second stage will require maintenance and control until a goal weight is achieved through the restrictions put in place.

3. Phase 3 - This final stage of the diet focuses purely on long term habits and essentially taking the same practices in Phase 2 and then continuing them on indefinitely. By this stage, all food will be open again and there will be no more food that is prohibited. At this point the dieter will be expected to follow their recent trends and continue like they have been doing. There is no guide with regards on  after care for dieters and those that have reached this stage are expected to have learnt the habits needed for long term weight maintenance.

The South Beach Diet does have some supporting scientific claims behind its design, though the glycemic index which was created by Agatston as a measurement for sugar contained in carbohydrates, is still put into question by some doctors. It should also be noted that while the diet can involve a large reduction in carbohydrates, this will not be the case throughout the diet. Many think of this as a "low-carb" diet and while this can be true, there are also variations of the programme that contain quite a lot of carbohydrates. The key to it, is the level of sugar and quality of the carbohydrates that are being put into the body and focusing more on the right foods instead of the wrong ones.