The South Beach Diet and diabetes link is widely touted for its advantages for diabetics. So what’s the big deal? While widely popular, the South Beach Diet is actually more of a lifestyle choice than a quick fix. Testimonials show that many participants lose well over 10 pounds during the first several weeks while in “Phase 1” of the diet!
Renowned Miami cardiologist Dr. Aurthur Agatston created the low saturated fat, good carbohydrate, high protein diet for his obese heart disease patients. However, the application of the diet to the general public exploded with the publishing of his first book detailing its success with his patients.
The diet is not specifically marketed at diabetics, however you do have the ability to tailor the diet to your type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Generally, the South Beach Diet is marketed as being healthy for everyone. This sentiment is particularly echoed by Dr. Agatston if you are a diabetic or have a cardiac related health condition. In fact, he claims that the diet was developed with these two groups in mind.
HOW DOES THE DIET WORK WITH DIABETES?
The diet is similar to the Atkins Diet, in that it is done in distinct phases. It moves away from Atkins a bit in other areas, as the diet also restricts saturated fats (less of an issue with Atkins) and tends to allow more carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables).
Although the diet is characterized as a “low carbohydrate” diet, it is more accurate to say that the diet makes a distinction between good (whole grains) and bad carbohydrates (refined grains and sugars, such as white flour and high fructose corn syrup).
PHASE 1 – INITIAL STAGE
This stage is designed to eliminate cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates (particularly non-whole grains). Basic foods eaten are lean meats (fish, white meat poultry, lean beef, soy), high fiber vegetables, low fat cheese and dairy products, low saturated fat nuts, etc. The diet, even in this phase, does encourage snacking! This stage lasts two weeks and significant weight loss can occur. I lost 10 pounds during the first week when I tried the diet.
PHASE 2 – LOG TERM WEIGHT LOSS
This phase introduces more fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grains. You remain on this phase until you reach your ideal weight.
PHASE 3 – ONGOING MAINTENANCE
This phase is permanent lifestyle adoption: Essentially, healthy eating for a healthy you. The plan allows for indulgences and incorporates all types of food (other than high sugars and other unrefined carbohydrates).
WHY THE DIET AND DIABETES ARE POSITIVELY LINKED
There are many proponents of the South Beach Diet and diabetes health. South Beach, itself, claims that the diet is perfect for those with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
One, the diet allows you to lose weight easily and predictably. Achieving an ideal weight is critical for managing, if not avoiding diabetes.
Two, the diet consists primarily of low glycemic index foods, helping to maintain lower blood sugar levels. Three, the diet is low in saturated fat, helping to ward off heart disease, a major problem for diabetics. Lastly, the diet heavily promotes moderate exercising, even more so than Atkins. Doable exercise routines are also available from the company.
The company also allows you to tailor the diet to your specific type of diabetes and has over 1,000 diabetic friendly recipes.
Moderate exercise is recommended. The newest South Beach Diet book has an extensive section dedicated to exercise, particularly interval walking training. I think the bok is worth buying for this section alone.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAYS:
Some critics point to the “fad” nature of the diet and the view, somewhat incorrect, that the diet is a sibling of the low carbohydrate Atkins diet. More scientific critics point to the inconclusive nature regarding the benefits of a low glycemic index diet (of which this is one).
Also, this diet will require you to learn to buy different foods and prepare fairly complex recipes. Initially, this extra time and hassle can take some getting used too.
In response to this criticism, for a fee, the diet has designed a category killer menu planning option. Read our review of The South Beach Diet Meal Plan here.
BOTTOM LINE – SOUTH DIET AND DIABETES
The South Beach diet seems easier to manage and maintain than others. It has the benefit of some quick weight loss during just the first two weeks of the diet and allows for a variety of foods, including sweets, as part of its ongoing lifestyle.
The criticism of the diet, while important to note, does not seem as extreme as other diets. Additionally, the South Beach Diet and Diabetes link has additional strength in that it is really a modification of a Mediterranean Diet, which has been scientifically proven to benefit diabetics.
His latest book, The South Beach Diet Supercharged, is fairly nominal. However, if you are serious about giving the diet a look, South Beach has additional services that you can subscribe to. The cost is approximately $5 dollars a week and include:
- Customized Meal Planning
- Grocery Shopping Lists!
- Thousands of Recipes
- 1 v 1 Advice from Registered Dieticians
- Online Support (Discussion Groups, Diet Articles)
- Exercise Assistance (Videos, routines, etc.)
For about $20 a month, this is a lot of support and resources. The company has also partnered with Kraft foods to offer a line of frozen foods that conform to the diet’s requirements.