Five years after the publication of his wildly popular South Beach Diet (which has sold some 23 million copies), author Arthur Agatston, MD, has released an updated version called The South Beach Diet Supercharged. The diet outlined in the new book is essentially the same as that found in The South Beach Diet, with some additional foods allowed. What’s new is the addition of 20 daily minutes of interval walking or total-body toning exercises designed to “rev up your metabolism” and result in faster weight loss and better health.
After listening to his patients and getting feedback on his web site, Agatston says, he decided to update the South Beach Diet plan with more flexibility in the earlier phases along with the new exercise component.
“We learned about lots of struggles people were having with weight loss and exercise, from sitting all day and getting injured when they go to the gym [and] boredom with routine exercises, to hitting plateaus and yo-yo dieting,” he says. “That inspired me to figure out a way to safely burn more calories without a huge time commitment.”
Some studies have shown that losing weight requires close to an hour a day of moderate exercise, more time than many people can easily fit into their lives. So Agatston teamed with University of Miami exercise physiologist Joseph Signorile, PhD, in search of fast-track fitness, and discovered the merits of interval training.
Just as a car uses more gas when you start and stop, interval training burns more calories than walking at a steady pace, Agatson says. Further, adding high-intensity intervals makes muscles work harder. And, as a bonus, Agatson says, “time goes by much faster while you are exercising.”
The South Beach Diet Supercharged also includes lots of practical advice, and strategies for maintaining weight loss. It includes plenty of tips, success stories, answers to frequently asked questions, menu plans, and 40 new recipes. The South Beach Diet Supercharged is available as a book, audio compact disk (narrated by the author), and a workout DVD.
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: What You Can Eat
The trademark three-phase South Beach Diet plan has not changed with this updated version. It’s still all about eating smart carbs, healthy fats, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fiber while controlling calories. High-fiber and lean protein foods are key to keeping hunger at bay. Dieters are encouraged to eat three meals and regular snacks in reasonable portions.
Phase 1 is the strictest, prohibiting sugars, alcohol, and starches — even healthy whole grains and fruit. According to the book, this two-week phase is designed to help dieters get rid of their cravings for refined starches and sugary foods.
In Phase 2, dieters can enjoy all the foods from Phase 1 plus most fruits, whole grains, wine, and light beer on occasion. After sticking to the Phase 2 guidelines for two or more weeks, dieters can then advance to the final maintenance phase, or diet for life. No food is off-limits in the final phase, but dieters are advised to choose foods wisely, control portions, avoid foods that trigger cravings, and stick to the interval exercise plan.
Loyal South Beach dieters will be delighted with the newly expanded food selections, menu plans and recipes for Phases 1 and 2. Phase 1 includes more meat, poultry, vegetables, beverages, desserts, soy foods, legumes, healthy fats, and prepared foods. Phase 2 includes everything in Phase 1, plus more fruits, starches, and a little alcohol.
Even if you’re a vegetarian or a picky eater, you can customize the plan to meet your own needs. You’ll be choosing from a wide variety of healthy foods, which helps prevent boredom and encourages you to try new foods.
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: How It Works
Studies show that calorie-controlled diets that are rich in plant foods, healthy fats, and lean protein — like The South Beach Diet Supercharged — are a nutritious formula for weight loss. While millions of people have lost weight on the healthy South Beach Diet, there was little emphasis on exercise in that plan. And experts agree exercise is a key component of any weight loss or maintenance plan.
In The South Beach Diet Supercharged, the 10-week fitness plan adds that component. It features an advancing three-phase workout regimen that is coordinated with the three-phase meal plan.
The premise is to combine high-intensity and low-intensity bouts during the 20-minute walking routine. On alternate days, you follow a total-body toning routine you can do in the comfort of your home. (You will need a stopwatch to time the intervals, and perhaps a pedometer to track your steps each day.)
Experts disagree on exactly how many extra calories interval training can burn, but most agree that exercising at a higher intensity uses up more calories. According to Agatston, “approximately 25% or more [extra] calories are burned in the later phases of interval training.”
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: What the Experts Say
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, gives The South Beach Diet Supercharged a big thumbs-up. She describes it as “three phases with lots of great food and a nutritious plan, along with a practical exercise plan.”
“The addition of 20 minutes per day that slowly builds during the three phases, without requiring any special equipment, is a reasonable approach,” she says. “Interval training allows people to work harder without having to spend the entire time at the higher level, and over time, the more you do it, the easier it becomes to burn more calories.”
She also praises the book’s 85 photos illustrating the correct exercise techniques to prevent injury and ensure proper muscle strengthening.
“Illustrations of the proper form of exercise are also important to reducing injury and showing people how easy it is to do these at home,” says Blatner, author of the book TheFlexitarian Diet.
The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Food for Thought
The South Beach Diet Supercharged is a healthy diet plan for anyone who wants to reduce risk for heart disease and diabetes, lower blood cholesterol, lose weight, and gradually incorporate exercise into their life. Most registered dietitians advise clients to follow weight loss plans similar to the recommendations found in Phases 2 and 3.
Agatston has incorporated useful tips and suggestions to help followers of his plan stop thinking like dieters and embrace the behavioral changes necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
It’s hard not to like a program that promotes a healthy diet and promises faster results in less time. After all, even busy people should be able to find 20 minutes a day to devote to exercise.
This review was published on WebMD.