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South Beach Diet

How does the South Beach Diet work?

Developed by cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston in Miami, Florida (hence the name), this best-selling book has been popular for the past couple decades as a meal plan to help you lose weight and keep it off. How does it work, and is it effective? I set out to answer that in my review below.

What is the South Beach Diet?

Each diet that I review on here has its own tenets that it follows. In the South Beach Diet, the focus is to steer clear off “bad” carbohydrates and fats and to consume “good” carbs and healthy fats instead. For anyone who is trying to eat healthily, these are good principles to follow. The meals in this diet plan are very low in carbs and high in lean protein. If you go to too extreme on both of these fronts (in terms of carb and protein intake), there can be adverse problems, but Dr. Agatston has measured these amounts out to a science to getting you the precise amount you need in a healthy way.

Phases of the South Beach Diet

Like other diets, this one is split into phases or cycles that determine what you eat. There are three phases in the South Beach Diet: Body Reboot, Steady Weight Loss, and the Maintenance phase.

Body Reboot

This phase is adhered to for one week and consists of three meals and two snacks on each day. Snacks are typically a shake or nutritional bar, so don’t get carried away thinking you can snack on what you want. The meals are focused on lean proteins like fish, turkey, or soy, along with non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.

Steady Weight Loss

This is where you’ll consume the “good carbs”. On these days you’ll eat three meals and three snacks. You can find out more information on the foods that this entails in this best-selling book on this diet.


There are no limitations during this phase, you can eat whatever you want. However, don’t take that literally. The literature for this diet provides advice on healthy choices in the kitchen, a lifestyle that you can continue to follow for better health.

Does It Work?

This diet will only work as well as you follow it. You could say that about every diet, but it is especially true with this one. Other diets have a very rigid meal schedule that you cannot deviate from. This one, particularly during the Maintenance Phase, gives you the control of what you eat. It’s up to you to make healthy choices.

The principle behind this diet is the ketosis method, which is transitioning the body into using stored fats as energy, as opposed to using sugars for energy. This boosting of the metabolism helps to burn fat faster and provides longer-term results.

My Thoughts

I like that the restrictions in this diet are not too harsh. Some other meal plans, like the Cabbage Soup Diet (described here), are way too rigid for my liking. This puts me in more control of what I eat, and the book I read has lots of recipes and suggested meal plans that make this easy to abide by. There were a lot of delicious options and I never felt hungry or unsatisfied. There is a reason why the South Beach Diet became so popular! If you’d like to get more information, I strongly suggest you take a look at this book.

Other Diets I Recommend

If the South Beach Diet interests you with its focus on healthy choices, you may also like these other popular diets:

Military Diet

how does the Military Diet work?

Want to lose weight fast? How does losing 10 pounds in 7 days sound? That’s what the Military Diet purports to do, so I decided to give it a look and see if it lives up to its claims.

What is the Military Diet?

Like other diets I’ve reviewed on here, this has become quite popular lately as a quick way to lose weight. Unlike other meal plans described on this site, this diet is completely free – there’s no original book from one person who created this diet, rather it is a general dieting philosophy that caught on. However, while there was no single original piece of literature that spawned this fad, there are books like this one that have been published to provide more guidance on this diet.

what food can you eat on the Military Diet?

This diet is also known as the “3 Day Diet”, as well as the “navy diet”, “army diet”, and even the “ice cream diet”, but no matter what you call it, it follows the same pattern. It consists of 3 days following a strict eating regimen. This is followed by 4 days of going back to your normal eating to complete the week. This cycle of on/off is repeated for continuing weeks until you reach your goal weight.

How It Works

Each week is split into two periods – 3 days on, 4 days off. During the first 3 days, you adhere to a low-calorie diet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no snacking allowed between meals. The plan is to be between 1,000 and 1,500 calories on these days. This creates a caloric deficit and boosts weight loss.

On the following 4 days, there aren’t restrictions on what you eat, but it is advised to make healthy meal choices and keep your calories in check. You don’t need to be at or lower than 1,500 calories, but don’t go hog-wild everything in sight.

You will continue to follow these 3 days on, 4 days off schedule each week until you reach your goal weight.

What’s the Science Behind It?

While there haven’t been any studies conducted on this particular diet, the numbers behind it make sense. You could definitely lose a few pounds if you strictly follow this meal plan as described. When you take in fewer calories than you expend during the day, you will surely drop some weight during the 3 days where you are on low-calorie eating. It’s all up to your own discipline to stick with smart choices on the other 4 days to determine the success you’ll have with this.

Some detractors point out that the meal plans (described in this book) are low in protein and high in carbs, which is not the best recipe for weight loss. In addition, you could be at risk of nutritional deficiency on the 3 low-calorie days. There simply aren’t enough nutrients absorbed when eating 1,000 to 1,500 calories, and without supplementation, you aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

My Thoughts

I can’t argue that you won’t lose a few pounds doing this diet. Eat minimal calories and you’ll lose weight. However, it lacks nutrition that your body needs, and for that reason, this one doesn’t get my endorsement. You can read more about this diet in this book here, but I recommend taking a look at these other diets instead (below) that don’t restrict your calories, rather they reinforce positive lifestyle changes and better decisions in the kitchen.

Mediterranean Diet

does the Mediterranean Diet work?

If you’ve been looking for a meal plan that helps you lose weight, chances are you’ve come across the Mediterranean Diet. It has been around for a number of decades but has really caught on since the early 2000’s. In this review, I’ll take a look at what this diet entails and whether or not it can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Want to start on this diet?

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

It has been around since the 1960’s and was developed to mimic the consumption of residents of Italy and Greece, after noting that these individuals had exceptional health compared to Americans, and had much lower risks of many diseases that arise from poor diet and lifestyle choices.

What Can You Eat?

This diet is split up into foods that you can eat an unlimited amount of, some foods that you can consume in moderation, some foods that can rarely be eaten, and foods that you should avoid.

  • Eat Unlimited: Fruits, vegetables, seafood, seeds, legumes, nuts, whole herbs, spices, potatoes, extra virgin olive oil
  • Consume in Moderation: Eggs, poultry, dairies such as cheese and yogurt
  • Eat on Rare Occasion: Red meat (click here to read about lean cuts of beef)
  • Do Not Eat: Sodas and other sugary beverages, processed grains, added sugars, highly processed foods

What Can You Not Eat?

These are the unhealthy foods, as well as ingredients, that you should avoid when on the Mediterranean Diet:

  • Refined Grains: pasta made from refined wheat, white bread, etc.
  • Trans Fats: Often found in margarine and other highly processed foods
  • Added Sugar: Candy, soda, ice cream, granulated (table) sugar
  • Refined Oils: Canola/ cottonseed/soybean oil
  • Highly Processed Foods: If you see a label marketing the food as “diet” or “low fat”, it was likely factory-made and highly processed
  • Processed Meat: Sausages, hot dogs, bratwursts, etc.

To incorporate these “can” and “cannot” foods into your diet, pick up the Complete Mediterranean Diet Cookbook here!

Recommended Foods and Drinks

It is tough to decipher exactly what foods are “Mediterranean”, as there as so many countries that make up this region and their foods can be so varied. In general, the rule of thumb is to be heavy on plant-based foods and go lighter on animal foods. The exception to that rule is fish and seafood, which is suggested twice per week.

Example foods to include in your diet include:

  • Fruits: I put together a list of the healthiest fruits here, and this diet recommends apples, bananas, strawberries, peaches, oranges, grapes, melons, etc.
  • Vegetables: Click here to read my post about the best vegetables for weight loss. Examples include kale, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts.
  • Seeds and Nuts: Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes: Peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts
  • Starchy Vegetables (Tubers): Potatoes of all kinds, yams, turnips
  • Fish / Seafood: Salmon, trout, tuna, shrimp, oysters, crab, mussels, clams
  • Whole Grains: Whole grain oats, oatmeal, brown rice, corn, barley, rye, whole wheat and whole grain bread and pasta
  • Eggs
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck
  • Dairy: Yogurt, cheese, Greek yogurt – stay away from ice cream!
  • Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, olives

As for drinks, water should be at the top of your list. This diet also recommends – and I love this – a glass of red wine per day. Coffee and tea are also allowed but avoid adding sugar or fatty creamers. Avoid beverages that are sugar-sweetened, like fruit juices.

My Thoughts

I like this diet as, unlike other diets like the Cabbage Soup Diet (reviewed here), you aren’t starving yourself. You are simply making healthier choices when it comes to eating. It’s very similar to the Fast Metabolism Diet (info here) and the 17 Day Diet (more here), in that regard. Not to mention, the allowed foods in this diet are delicious and I could never grow tired of them. All in all, it’s a very satisfying and healthy meal plan that provides many weight loss and general health benefits.

Pick up some literature on the Mediterranean Diet – my favorite is this book on Amazon.

Fast Metabolism Diet

boost fat loss and lose weight with the Fast Metabolism Diet

The Fast Metabolism Diet is the brainchild of Haylie Pomroy in her New York Times best-selling book that operates on the philosophy that you don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight. Pomroy claims to have helped her clients lose as much as 20 pounds in a 4-week period by raising their metabolism.

What is the Fast Metabolism Diet?

The diet lasts 28 days but is broken up into 4 weeks each consisting of 3 phases. The book provides detailed meal plans for each of the phases described below.

Phase 1

Monday – Tuesday: The goal of this phase is to lower your stress levels with a high intake of fruits and other carbohydrates.

Phase 2

Wednesday – Thursday: The focus of this phase is to unlock your fat stores and burn them as energy, as opposed to your body using sugars for energy. Muscle building is also a focus. This phase is heavy on vegetables and lean proteins.

Phase 3

Friday – Sunday: Heavy focus on burning fat by incorporating ideas from the previous two phases, with a higher intake of healthy fats and oils, and heavy exercise to raise your metabolism.

What It Does

This diet is not so much a diet as it is returning to healthy habits: eating right and getting exercise. It is much like the 17 Day Diet in that regard, which focuses on making healthy choices. This diet is heavy on fruits, vegetables, getting enough water, consuming lean protein, and all the other dieting advice that you know you should be following, but just aren’t.

One thing that is stressed in this diet, that is less so in others, is the harping on getting enough water during the day. The importance of drinking enough water cannot be overstated. Our bodies are made up of 60% water, so you need to be replenishing the supply to make sure everything functions properly. Not only that, but drinking water before a meal can make you feel full faster, which leads to less overeating.

Does It Work?

This diet is all about getting back to the basics of eating right, and putting your body in motion (exercise) so that your metabolism is working at its best. There are no secrets or tricks to it, just good solid advice on healthy living. I’m all about that – it’s why I started this site in the first place, to spread my knowledge of all health-related matters.

What Others Are Saying

If my word isn’t good enough, take a look at the Amazon listing (and it’s best-seller status) for this book. Nearly 5,000 reviews at the time of this writing and a 4+ star rating. There must be something to this diet, eh?

Having given this diet a spin for one 28-day period, following the three phases to the letter, I can attest that it helped me lose a couple unwanted inches around my waist. But not only that, I just generally felt better after making smarter food choices. This is the kind of diet that doesn’t stop working after you complete it. It provides you with lifestyle advice that you can continue to follow and maintain your goal weight for years to come.

17 Day Diet

does the 17 Day Diet work?

The 17 Day Diet is the brainchild of Dr. Mike Moreno, released in his best-selling book in 2011. The book is dedicated to helping individuals in their decision-making when it comes to their food consumption, assisting in speeding up fat loss with smart choices of food, as opposed to reducing calories.

What is the 17 Day Diet?

You can guess by the name that the duration of the diet is 17 days long, but in actuality, it is three separate diets (or cycles) that are followed consecutively for 17 days each. The three cycles are called Accelerate, Activate, and Achieve. There’s also a fourth cycle called Arrive, which comes after the completion of the other three phases.

The science behind these three phases is to keep your body from getting too accustomed to one kind of diet, providing it a shock so that your metabolism doesn’t plateau.

Accelerate Cycle

It is during this phase that most of the weight loss occurs. The dieter reduces their calories to around 1,200 per day, as well as reduces their sugar intake. The focus here is on improving your digestion. Users can expect to lose 10-15 pounds during this phase, though most of it is water weight (much like with the Cabbage Soup Diet).

Activate Cycle

During this phase, the dieter will go on an intermittent fasting schedule. With this, they alternate back and forth between limited calorie days and higher calorie days. The reasoning behind this is to reset your metabolism by keeping it guessing, not getting set on one consistent caloric intake, and stimulate fat loss. Users can expect to drop another 5 to 6 pounds during this period.

Achieve Cycle

It is during this phase where the focus is on developing better eating habits. The literature for this diet includes many meal plans and diet tips that you should adopt into your lifestyle, beyond the completion of this diet. Users may drop another 2 to 3 pounds during the 17 days of this phase.

Arrive Cycle

This phase, which is ongoing and long-term, is about making healthy choices and maintaining your goal weight. Following the advice in this book, you will make healthy food choices on weekdays, with more of your favorite foods allowed over the weekend.

Moreno’s book includes comprehensive lists of acceptable foods, including lean proteins, vegetables that help you lose weight, fruits that are low in sugar, and other natural carbohydrate recommendations. There are sample menus that give you many food options during all of the above cycles. Upon reading his book, you’ll also notice that he is a big fan of green tea at every meal, due to its antioxidant and fat burning properties.

There are also a lot of helpful tips that keep you on track when you’re on the road, dining out at restaurants, enjoying the holidays, or even during your menstrual cycle. No stone is left unturned and Moreno provides a complete plan to get your diet, and weight, on track.

My Thoughts

I absolutely love this diet. It offers a wide variety of foods to eat, doesn’t overly restrict your caloric intake, and best of all it gives advice on how to make smart choices that you can make part of your routine. Many fad diets work during the time you follow them, but then you balloon back up after completion. This diet provides lifelong information that can keep you at your ideal weight for as long as you stick to its principles.

Cabbage Soup Diet

While other diets I write about on here let you choose what you want to eat, within reason, this is not one of those. The Cabbage Soup Diet does not offer a lot of variety – you can guess by the name what you’ll be eating a lot of – but you’ll be losing weight. If that’s the goal and you can stomach eating the same meals over and over, then this diet is for you!

What is the Cabbage Soup Diet?

While the history of this date can’t be traced to a particular origin, it gained a lot of popularity starting in the 1980’s. It goes by a few other names, including the “sacred heart” diet, the “military cabbage soup” diet (not to be confused with The Military Diet), the “TJ miracle soup” diet, and the “Russian peasant” diet.

No matter what you call it, many users who have followed this meal plan have reported losing up to 10 pounds in as little as a week.

If you have an event coming up that you need to drop pounds fast for – perhaps you want to look good in a swimsuit, or need to squeeze into a dress – then this may be a regimen to follow.

does the cabbage soup diet work?

What Are the Meals Like?

Every day that you follow this diet, you will be eating a lot of cabbage soup. In addition to that, here are the principles to follow for the week:

  • Day 1: you can eat fruit, with the exception of bananas
  • Day 2: you are able to eat vegetables, provided that they aren’t starches
  • Day 3: you can eat fruits and vegetables
  • Day 4: you can consume bananas and skim milk
  • Day 5: you are able to eat beef, or chicken without the skin, as well as tomatoes
  • Day 6: you can consume beef and vegetables
  • Day 7: you may eat brown rice, vegetables, and drink unsweetened fruit juice

That is a very simplistic look at the meal plan, so if you want greater detail on what you can and cannot eat on any given day, I suggest you pick up some literature like this book on Amazon.

Along with all the cabbage soup you’ll be eating, you can see in the above schedule that it is heavy on fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. For suggestions on the healthiest fruits to eat for weight loss, I have a detailed list here.

Does the Cabbage Soup Diet Work?

This diet has not been well received by medical professionals. While weight can be lost by following this fad diet, much of that weight is a result of losing a lot of water weight as opposed to fat. Given that, the effects of this diet are not permanent. On top of that, the minimal calories consumed is very low, to the point of being unsafe for some, and there is very little protein intake. Because of this, many followers of this diet have reported feelings of weakness and light-headedness.

In addition to that, it is a very bland menu. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could make it through a week of eating so much cabbage soup and very little variety of the other foods that are allowed on each of the days described above. I imagine just the smell of cabbage would make me nauseous after a few days.

My Thoughts

Sure, you can lose some weight with this diet, but it won’t be fat loss. That’s ultimately what you want in a diet – burning fat and keeping it off. This may work in a pinch to get rid of a little bloat. However, it’s not a long-term recipe for success.

Instead, I recommend you follow something like the Ketotarian Diet if you want real, lasting results. Combine that with a consistent exercise routine and diet pills (suggestions here) to boost your weight loss, and you will get the results you’re seeking.

On the other hand, many reviewers of this book have a lot of positive things to say about the Cabbage Soup Diet, so if you have any interest, for sure check out some more literature.

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