Review of South Beach Diet Plan: Explaining what it is and how it works


The South Beach Diet has proven to be a remarkable success. Over 500,000 people have already succeeded in losing weight with this plan online alone. I’ll attempt to answer how it works and why it works here.

How Did it Start?

Dr. Arthur Agatston – a cardiologist – started the program in response to the failure of the American Heart Association’s low-fat/high-carb diets of the 90’s. The recommended diets at the time simply weren’t working over the long-term, so Dr Agatston used his medical knowledge to devise a diet that would work.

What Is it Online?

It is the interactive, online version of the core diet. In terms of motivation, this is a much better way because there are people and resources you can call upon when necessary. When you sign up online, you get a whole array of online tools to help you with your dieting.

You get things like weight-trackers, meal planners and recipe lists. You also get your own personalized home page and you can keep your own journals and records of progress on the arrange. You can (optionally) share your journal with others and read their journals. This all helps keep you motivated.

There is also a discussion group where you can chat with other people on the plan and get advice and ideas, and you can ask questions of Dr Agatson, find recipes and use the meal planner. This is no ordinary diet. It’s not just a book or a course – it’s a fully interactive program supported by experts and dieticians.

How Does it Work?

It runs in 3 phases.

Phase 1 lasts 14 days and the purpose of this phase is to shock the metabolism into losing weight. It’s the hardest part and it restricts food groups such as bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, pasta, wine and others whilst allowing meat, fish, vegetables, eggs and cheese.

You do still get 3 balanced meals per day in phase 1 and the good thing is that this phase only lasts 14 days.

So, are we in ‘diet hell’ here? Well, it is a bit I suppose, but it’s neither as bad or for as long as most other diets I’ve tried. Let’s just call it a mini-hell!

Phase 2 is what you stay on until you reach your target weight. You can start to reintroduce foods you missed during phase 1 … things like bread, rice, potatoes, wine and even chocolate! This phase gets you eating good carbs and sensible meals, yet you’ll still lose weight.

This phase particularly impressed me. I really was quite painless and yet I was losing weight.

Phase 3 isn’t really a diet at all – it’s just a way of life with sensible balanced eating. This phase maintains you at your target weight. You can eat virtually every food you like, but your eating will be angled mostly towards eating good carbs as opposed to bad carbs.

Why Does it Work So Well?

I think it works well for three main reasons.

First, it is a longer-term diet. Yes, you lose weight quickly at first (you do on all diets) but even the first 14 days on the plan are hardly what you’d call ‘crash dieting’. They shock your metabolism into losing weight but you’re still getting three square meals a day. You are already being set up for a long-term eating plan that’s both healthy and enjoyable.

Second, because the diet plan is balanced and allows you some of your favourite foods you’re much more likely to be able to follow it over the long term. Most ‘fad diets’ just make people miserable and they soon give up. A slower process of changing your eating habits is far more successful. This is a crucial reason why the program is so successful – people follow it. After all, a diet is useless if people don’t follow it.

Third, it provides interactive support during the dieting process. This should not be underestimated in terms of how it makes this diet so successful. It helps so much with motivation.


Food – 4 stars

The program helped you to distinguish the difference between good and bad carbs, as well as good and bad fats.

Exercise – 3 stars

The original South Beach Diet hasn’t design a fitness program to incorporate to the diet plan, but the online plan has a fitness feature.

Community – 4 stars

The online program has a supportive community. The community which is the Beach Buddies program believes in team work for greater success.

Tools – 4.5 stars

The online member receives bonus recipes, exercise tips and weight loss tools. The tools include a meal planner, weight tracker, personal journal, food guides and daily newsletter.


  • Named number 5 in the Best Commercial Diets by US News 2011
  • Supports a right way of eating by avoiding refined sugars and trans fats
  • Gives emphasis on fruits, vegetables and lean proteins
  • Thousands of satisfied dieters/clients
  • Has a maintenance plan for continued healthy way of eating and living
  • Has a support from the medical community
  • Updated the plan through the released of the “South Beach Diet: Supercharged


  • Not really friendly for vegetarians
  • No exercise program
  • The elimination of fruits like bananas, sugars and other carbohydrates is sometimes difficult to maintain.

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