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The South Beach Diet aims to be a lifelong eating plan that you adapt when you reach the maintenance period, which is phase 3. By this point, you have learned how to eat in a healthy way, meaning you can have occasional treats, like a slice of cake, but by using what you learned in phases 1 and 2, you keep yourself from veering too far off the plan.
“It has all the right kinds of foods you should be eating,” Schmidt says. “In the long term, if you follow it Monday through Friday, and on the weekend give yourself a little leeway, you’ll maintain. It is more restrictive, but there are fabulous recipes and tons of them.”
As Agatston outlines in his book, the long-term effects of following the South Beach Diet — beyond just losing weight — include lowering your cholesterol, along with your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even some cancers. Those are long-term effects that most diets don’t offer simply because they aren’t set up for you to stick with them indefinitely.
“If you’re eating well and to be healthy, you won’t be overweight,” says Schmidt.
The Takeaway: Should You Try the South Beach Diet for Weight Loss?
“The diet can work for some people, not all people,” Stephens says. Crucially, she says that people need to move past the word “diet” and focus more on lifestyle changes.
“In the end, you’ll be eating exactly what’s been recommended for years and proven by science,” Stephens explains. “Lean meats in small portions, lower fat dairy, and lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will make you feel better, lower your blood pressure, better control your blood sugar, and help you lose weight.”
Additional reporting by Stephanie Bucklin