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The glamorously named South Beach Diet is a low-carb eating plan developed by Miami cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon. Originally designed to help prevent heart disease, the eating plan has become a popular way to lose weight. But does it really work? Read on to find out.

What does the plan involve?
The South Beach Diet involves differentiating between good and bad carbohydrates (unlike the Atkins diet which tars them all with the same brush). The South Beach plan recognizes that many carbohydrates, such as rice and wholegrain pasta, are beneficial to the body, and that the restriction of such carbs will adversely effect nutritional levels. However, the plan does not look upon carbs such as white bread, potatoes and refined wheat so favourably. These so called 'bad carbs' offer little nutritional benefits and are therefore heavily restricted under the plan.

Food and recipes
The first phase of the South Beach Diet lasts two weeks and eliminates all carbs, fruit and alcohol. During the second phase, fruit and good carbs are gradually introduced. The third and final phase is seen as a maintenance stage where more portions of less favourable foods are allowed. The main bulk of the South Beach Diet consists of lean meats, egg, low-calorie dairy and a wide variety of vegetables.

Exercise
New versions of the program encourage you to incorporate a regular exercise routine as part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Older versions give no mention to the need for regular exercise.

Practicality
Eating out when on the South Beach diet could be difficult in some restaurants so you will need to be selective in where you go. Alcohol is not permitted but caffeine is allowed. There is no need to buy any special foods in order to follow the program. The plan is perfectly suitable for vegetarians.

Celebrity followers
The South Beach eating plan has allegedly been used by a large number of celebrities in the UK and the US. Stars such as Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Bette Midler are rumoured to have lost weight with this slimming program.

Does the plan work?
Overall, the South Beach Diet is a sensible and effective way to lose weight. The majority of the recommendations will benefit health and help improve your waistline. And unlike the Atkins plans, the South Beach Diet doesn't allow unlimited fats and protein which again is to be applauded. On the downside, older versions of the South Beach ignore the importance of exercise when trying to lose weight. Also, some of the theories presented by the program simply aren't proven.

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Diet & Weight Loss