When you love food as much as I do, there has to be a diet plan. A course of action, if you will, on how not to gain 10 lbs a day. I'd love to drown myself in in truffle oil and stuff my face with bagels from H&H on the daily, but that's just not realistic.
Now before I really get into it: a little disclaimer. I use the word diet in the most traditional sense:
di·et • /ˈdī-it/ • NounThe kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
As opposed to:
di·et • /ˈdī-it/ • Verb
To restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.
We do not believe in dieting (v) but rather a healthy diet (n). I hope that clears everything up
So, with an agenda to eat well and stay healthy, I do our research. Enter the South Beach Diet, or what I've come to know as the most successful and easy-to-follow plan thus far. My boyfriend, Phil, and I were able to lose a significant amount of weight (those last stubborn 10-15 lbs!) and have kept it off without even trying.
Simply put, it works because there is no counting, little restriction, and lots of delicious choices. Furthermore, you're allowed to eat as much as you want- as long as you're looking for high fiber, lean protein, good carbs, and healthy fats. Some might call this a "Low-carb diet," and they're missing the point.
The main idea is this: if carbohydrates, sugars, or fats occur naturally in your food, then they are good for you and won't cause weight gain when eaten in moderation. You're going to look for foods that A) you can pronounce, and B) were once alive, whether that means they grew from the ground or once had eyes.
Here's the skinny on how The South Beach Diet really works...
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: It's important to know the difference. According to Dr. Agatston, carbohydrates are pretty much synonymous with sugar. And as we all know, when sugar is absorbed into the blood stream, it becomes fat. Think of how easily sugar is melted into your morning coffee. That's how easily it's absorbed into the blood stream. When carbohydrates are processed (ie, the fiber is removed) our body absorbs their sugars into the blood stream just as easily. Hence, weight gain.
So, those are bad carbs. No white flour, no white sugar. Good carbs, occur naturally in our foods: fruit, some vegetables, and whole grains. They are fibrous, which challenges your body to break down the sugars. Now think of putting a carrot (a high carbohydrate vegetable) into your morning coffee. Doesn't break down so easily, does it?
To Drink, or Not to Drink: It's no secret that alcohol can cause weight gain. Most drinks are riddled with sugar, and beer is the worst offender. It's practically all sugar! If you must indulge (and I always do) stick with red wine or liquor with club soda. Vodka, soda, and a lime-wedge is my poison!
Good Fats, Bad Fats: When low-fat diets were all the rage, saturated fats were replaced with trans fats. Surprise: unnaturally occurring fats are bad for you! Not only do they contribute to weight gain, but they cause heart attacks and strokes. Enter good fats, or what I like to think of as Mediterranean: nuts, fish, olive oil, and avocados. Natural fats are good for you, slow down the digestive process, and in turn lessen the amount of sugar your body absorbs. Furthermore, good fats help you feel satiated, which means less snacking and ultimately, less calories! It's a win-win situation.
Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater: In order to maintain a diet, you must cheat. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in a binge to make up for what you've denied yourself for too long. Whether it's a small piece of chocolate once a day or a big pasta dinner on Sundays, it is important to let yourself enjoy what you want. Just make sure the majority of what you eat is healthy. (We like to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of our diet is South Beach Diet Friendly, the rest is perhaps not.) This is why there are 3 phases to the South Beach Diet...
South Beach Diet Phase 1: 2 weeks of lean protein, good fats, lots of vegetables and salads. No bread, rice, pasta, baked goods, or starchy veggies like potatoes of any kind. No fruit and no sugar, but you can substitute Splenda or Truvia. No alcoholic beverages of any kind.
South Beach Diet Phase 2: Start to reintroduce good carbs like fruit, whole grains, and sweet potatoes. You can drink again, but limit your alcohol intake to red wine or liquor with club soda.
South Beach Diet Phase 3: Now, this phase is tricky. In my humble opinion, it doesn't even need to exist. Dr. Agatston states that "there's no food list for Phase Three. In other words, if you want it, and it doesn't undo all your sacrifices, you should go ahead and enjoy it."
My interpretation for Phase 3: Stick to Phase 2. If you find yourself cheating more than 20% of the time and you're starting to gain weight, go back to Phase 1 for a week or until you feel you're back to your desired weight.
So what exactly can you eat on the SoBe Diet? Check this out:
In Conclusion: Indulge in a balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and good carbs. As a general rule of thumb, eat whenever you're hungry and don't worry too much about portion control. Although, you'll find that while eating lots of protein and fibrous meals you will feel full with smaller portions. I recommend eating every 3 hours.
I also recommend you read the book, which is available on iTunes and Amazon.com, to get the full scoop as well as some recipe recommendations. Learning the science behind the South Beach Diet really helps you understand how to lose weight and keep it off.
And that's all she wrote!