What do you get when you ask a cardiologist and dietitian to create a diet alternative to low-fat diets? You get The South Beach Diet.
This diet is typically referred to as a low carb diet. But is it? To find out lets explore the background of how the diet was developed.
In the Beginning
This diets original purpose was to help with the prevention of heart disease for the cardiologists patients. He developed it in the early 2000s, and talk of the diet rapidly spread as a popular way to to lose weight The Cardiologists name was Dr. Agatston. At the time he had accepted the common conclusion among cardiologists that a low-fat diet would reduce cholesterol and thus prevent heart disease. But what he discovered was that his clients struggled to keep on track with these low fat diets. To help understand why this happened, he researched the same medical works for insulin resistance that David Jenkins used to organize the glycemic index.
How Sugar Affects Our Bodies
He saw that when sugar goes into the bloodstream, our pancreas sends out insulin which triggers cells to absorb the sugar. The studies showed that prolonged exposure to short bursts of sugar would lead to our cells becoming resistant to insulin. As a result sugar would say in the bloodstream which would then cause the pancreas to send out another wave of insulin. The insulin overdose in our bodies would eventually bring the blood sugar to below normal levels. This process would cause diabetes, and produce circles of hunger. To much sugar led to excess insulin that caused low blood sugar which led to wanting to eat which led to the eating more sugar! What a vicious circle!
Agatston suggested that clients on low-fat diets were not eating less food than then before going on the diet. They simply had compensated for the fat by eating more sugar and carbs. This led to the vicious circle I described before. Clients felt so hunger,that they would eat and excessive amount of calories which would turn into fat. Agatston knew of the Atkins Diet, but he was worried the people on it would not get a balanced amount of carbs,too much saturated fat, not enough fiber, and increased the risk of heart disease! So he developed the South Beach Diet
The Diet Plan and Simple
Its a very simple diet in principle. Essentially what your doing is replacing bad carbs and bad fats with good carbs and good fats.
Whats the Difference?
Foods made from refined sugars and grains. Snacks, white bread, etc. are bad carbs. The South Beach Diet suggests low gi carbs such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Trans fats and saturated fats are the bane of a heart doctors existence. Therefor the diet was made to exclude them. The South Beach Diet exchanged these bad fat food with foods rich in unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acid which help to create HDL cholesterol and give many other health benefits. An example would be the replacement of fatty portions of red meat and poultry, with lean meats, oily fish, and nuts.
So is the south beach diet a low carb diet? No. Not really. Its more of a sugar balancing diet to help curb hunger that also stresses the reduction of bad fats.