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The South Beach Diet
By Arthur Agatston, M.D.
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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The South Beach Diet is subtitled "The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss." The man behind the diet is prominent Miami Beach cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston.

The lifestyle plan was originally developed for Dr. Agatston's chronically overweight patients. There weren't any bestselling books, just a stapled packet that was handed out at appointments. People's success rates on the diet were high and word spread.

The South Beach Diet is a no-to-low carbohydrate plan. Dr. Agatston had concerns regarding the "liberal intake" of saturated fats allowed on the Atkins plan. "Even if you do lose weight and keep it off, your blood chemistry might suffer from eating so much saturated fat" says the good doctor.

Agatston's plan cuts some but not all carbohydrates. The diet permits certain whole grain breads, cereals and pasta. Ample fats and animal proteins are included to balance the cut in carbs.

The South Beach Diet is divided into three parts. The first section helps readers understand diets, the difference between good fats and how to prepare to begin a diet plan.

The second section discusses meal plans and recipes for the three phases of the diet. Phase One is the most restrictive leg of the plan. For two weeks dieters are restricted from just about everything that's yummy including all breads and fruits. This is supposed to be some sort of cleansing period/body boot camp that promises 8-13 pound loss results.

Phase Two introduces some of the foods restricted in the first leg. Phase Three introduces even more. When all is said and done, you should be maintaining your weight on Phase Three.

Recipes from top chefs are provided in each section. If you're cooking for a family, be prepared to make a diet meal for you and a second dinner for your kids unless they'll eat poached salmon spinach salad.

This review of the South Beach Diet does not include medical analysis. You should always consult your physician before starting and exercise or diet plan. It's a key point that Dr. Agatston doesn't mention as much as he should.

The South Beach Diet is do-able and probably more valid than many diets on the market. You can eat real food in real portions, making it easier for the diet to become a lifestyle change.