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The South Beach Diet: Is It the Diet For You?
The main difference and similarity between the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet is similar to the Atkins Diet in that it has an initial two week phase that drastically reduces carbs. The difference between Atkins and South Beach is that with the South Beach Diet there are good carbs and bad carbs. The glycemic index of a food is what counts i the South Beach Diet. The glycemic index is how much a food increases blood sugar compared to the amount that same quantity of white bread would increase blood sugar.
Why does the South Beach Diet focus on good and bad carbs and the glycemic index?
A spike in the blood sugar or glucose, signals the pancreas to make more insulin. The insulin’s job is to get the sugar out of the blood stream into the organs for energy or into storage. The body stores glucose as fat. Keeping the blood sugar from spiking means less insulin is produced which means the sugars are absorbed slowly resulting in a steady level of decreasing sugar levels rather than a rush. Low blood sugar leads to cravings for sugary foods and over eating. And the cycle starts again.
Bad carbs spike the blood sugar. Good carbs don’t. Why?
Good carbs are those from foods which contain a lot of fiber, such as whole grains or contain fiber and water such as fruit. The body takes longer to digest the good carbs so they enter the blood stream more slowly.
The longer food takes to digest the better. For example a piece of raw broccoli is better than cooked because your body has to work harder to digest the raw broccoli. The faster carbohydrates are digested, the more quickly they’re turned into sugar – glucose, and the more likely they will be turned to stored fat.
Fiber, protein and fats slow down the digestive system which means the blood sugar rises slowly and falls slowly. The tendency to over eat is diminished and the onset of hunger delayed.
The South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet limits fats and oils and encourages the consumption of lean cuts of meat and low fat cheeses. Vegetables and fruits are allowed after the initial phase I - two week period. Whole grains can be added back including whole grain bread. White breads, cookies, cakes, rice, potatoes, and sugar are off limits except for special occasions.
The South Beach Diet is for life
The South Beach Diet is a change in eating patterns for life, but other than the forbidden processed foods, white flour, and sugar, the diet is reasonably manageable. It allows a broader selection of foods than the Atkins diet.
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