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South Beach Diet
Product Grade
Report Card Grade
0 Reviews
Best Feature:
Balanced diet plan that doesn't require calorie counting
Worst Feature:
Phase 1 might be too restrictive for some people
Best Uses:
Effective diet encouraging more balanced nutrition
Prices for the books and food will vary

Where to Buy

Store Name


The South Beach Diet was created by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a preventative cardiologist living in Miami Beach, FL. Dr. Agatston believed that you could reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes by eating a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats. The South Beach Diet plan is often classified as a low-carbohydrate diet, but, unlike other low-carb diets, the South Beach Diet doesn't restrict all carbs or make dieters measure their carb intake. Instead, the plan uses the glycemic index (GI) to differentiate between "good" and "bad" carbs. Carbs with a high GI are "bad" because they release glucose into the bloodstream faster and keep blood sugar levels higher for a longer period of time. Studies suggest that this increase in blood sugar levels can trigger hunger, weight gain and possibly diabetes, all of which can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Unlike the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet plan also discourages eating "bad" fat (eliminates trans-fats and restricts saturated fats), as they contribute to LDL cholesterol and heart disease.

You can purchase The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life on Amazon for about $17. You can also sign up as a member on their online site. The fee is $5/week, and you'll have access to community message boards, recipes, weight loss tracker, and daily newsletter.

Product Report Card Grade

We give the South Beach Diet an A- because it is an effective weight loss program that encourages more of a balanced diet than similar “low-carb” programs like Atkins. Dieters don’t have to count calories and can even eat (approved) snacks/desserts during the most restrictive phase of the program. While it is a great diet overall, we had to deduct a few points because the initial phase of the program is extremely restrictive and prohibits you from eating from all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, alcohol, and some higher-glycemic veggies as well.

This Product
Overall Score
Our Awards
Date Reviewed
April 2013
January 2012
April 2013
You don't have to count calories; you can eat snacks and dessert even during Phase 1; lots of reading material and recipes available online; less restrictive and more balanced diet than Atkins in the long term
Can customize diet plan to fit almost any person and lifestyle (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.); teaching nutrition and portion-control from the beginning can make the plan easier to maintain in the long-term; allows for occasional splurges; in-person and online support available; offers pre-made snacks and meals so you can stick to the plan even if you are pressed for time; offers exercise incentives
Convenience of prepackaged, microwavable meals that control portions; lots of support for members with the Jenny consultants, a 24/7 support telephone line and multiple online tools; tailored diet plans; winner of Consumer Reports taste test for prepackaged diet meals
Not great for people who can't eat dairy; phase 1 may be too restrictive for some to follow
Flexibility of plan may not work for the undisciplined; counting points can be tedious; have to maintain membership which can be costly
Most of the complaints are about how expensive the plan is; relies heavily on prepackaged meals, so its difficult to go out for dinner; Jenny consultants are not dieticians/nutritionists by profession; not appropriate for vegans or people with food allergies (gluten, peanuts, etc.)
Food prices vary. You can purchase The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life on Amazon for about $7 (est.). You can also sign up as a member on their online site for $4- $5/week.
Food and membership costs vary. Currently, it is $30 to sign up, $19/month for online access and $43/month for unlimited meetings.
Food and membership costs vary. It can range between $0-$25 to sign up, $25-$38 in monthly membership fees and about $400 in monthly food costs.
Diet Type
Low-Calorie, Balanced
Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Balanced
Diet Goals
Weight Loss
Weight Loss and General Health
Weight Loss
The idea behind the South Beach Diet is that you can lose weight and improve your overall health through a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats. Although it is often classified as a low-carb diet, the South Beach Diet doesn't restrict all carbs or make dieters measure their carb intake. In fact, it encourages dieters to eat "good" carbs that have a low glycemic index (GI), and, unlike Atkins, it discourages them from eating "bad" fats (eliminates trans-fats and restricts saturated fats).
The idea behind the Weight Watchers Program is that you'll eat less and won't feel as hungry if you make healthier food choices that fill you up for longer.
The idea behind the Jenny Craig program is that you can lose weight and maintain that weight loss when you combine balanced nutrition and portion control with an improved attitude toward food and exercise.
How It Works
The South Beach Diet was created by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a preventative cardiologist living in Miami Beach, FL and it has 3 phases. The 1st phase of the plan is the most restrictive and lasts 2 weeks. It is designed to eliminate cravings for refined starch and sugar, as well as jumpstart weight loss. During this phase, you are prohibited from all sugars, processed carbohydrates, fruits, alcohol and certain higher-glycemic vegetables. The 2nd phase will last until you reach your goal weight. During this time, you will reintroduce "good" carbs, such as whole grain bread and fruit, and are allowed to have a glass of white or red wine with dinner. The 3rd phase lasts indefinitely and is designed to help you continue using the principles you've learned in the previous phases to maintain a healthy weight for life.
Weight Watchers uses a PointsPlus system to help dieters measure daily food intake and to encourage them to make healthier choices. The PointsPlus system assigns a point value to different foods, which is calculated by its protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber and calorie content, as well as by how difficult it is for the body to work it off. Each dieter is given a unique PointsPlus target according to their gender, height, weight and weight loss goals. You can basically eat whatever you want on the Weight Watchers program, as long as you stay within your daily PointsPlus target, but you are encouraged to eat more "Power Foods," which are considered the healthiest and most filling. "Power Foods" include whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy and (unlimited quantities of) fresh fruit and non-starchy veggies.
The Jenny Craig program assigns each dieter a personal Jenny consultant who will customize their weight loss plan and meet with them during weekly one-on-one sessions to help guide them through the program's 3 stages - food, body and mind. To educate you on nutrition and portion control, the program initially provides frozen or shelf-stable prepackaged meals that are high in fiber and low in fat/cholesterol. You will supplement these meals with 2-3 servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, or non-fat dairy products bought at a local grocery store. Halfway from your goal weight, you will slowly transition to cooking your own meals (using Jenny recipes) until you have reached your goal weight and are only cooking your own food. Meanwhile, your Jenny consultant will help devise a workout program based on your current activity level with the ultimate goal eventually being 60 minutes of advanced physical activity a day (Pilates, running or weight training). Your Jenny consultant will also help you better understand how your existing relationship with food, life experiences and social environment have impacted your health and weight, and how you can build the necessary skills to change your previous mind-set and maintain the good habits that you have acquired during the program.
Calorie Intake
The South Beach Diet doesn't require calorie counting and encourages 3 meals a day plus 2 snacks.
Since Weight Watchers uses the PointsPlus system, there isn't a focus on calories, but, no matter what, you will be getting at least 1200 calories a day.
Calorie intake can range from 1,200 - 2,300 calories per day depending on the plan you come up with your Jenny consultant, which will be based on your age, height, current weight, gender, your activity level, etc.
The South Beach Diet offers how-to books with numerous recipes to follow. For $4/week, you can also register on their online platform where you can get access to 24-hour support, peer-support discussion groups, customized meal plans and progress tracking tools.
You can sign up to attend group meetings at your local Weight Watchers branch or you can just sign up for the online program. To keep track of the points you are consuming, Weight Watchers also offers a pocket guide, pocket calculator, an online database of 40,000 foods and a mobile app with the database for additional convenience. Weight Watchers also offers recipes that show the PointsPlus value or, if you are making your own dish, you can use the company's online tools to calculate points ingredient by ingredient.
You can participate in the program by attending weekly sessions at a local Jenny Craig center or you can also participate from the comfort of your own home. Either way, you will have access to a Jenny consultant for one-on-one weekly meetings and to Jenny's 24/7 telephone line to get information or support whenever you need it. The program also offers online support, including peer-support discussion groups and progress tracking tools.
South Beach Diet recommends interval exercise as the best way to keep your metabolism up and avoid weight-loss plateaus.
Physical activity is encouraged, and Weight Watchers assigns different activities a PointsPlus value in order to incentivize dieters. Whether it is an hour of running, dancing or doing laundry, you'll receive extra food points when you exercise to allow for the occasional splurge.
30 - 60 minutes of physical activity is encouraged, and your Jenny consultant will help you determine your fitness goals/routine. Usually, Jenny consultants will try to incorporate exercise into your daily life (ex. walking, taking the stairs, doing laundry, etc.), but they may suggest that already active dieters add more rigorous exercise (ex. Pilates, weight training, etc.).
Examples of available books include: The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Gluten-Aware Plan for Losing Weight and Feeling Great--FAST!, The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life, The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook: 200 Delicious Recipes Ready in 30 Minutes or Less.
Examples of available books include: Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites: Over 200 Best-Ever Recipes from the Weight Watchers Test Kitchens, Weight Watchers In 20 Minutes, Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.
Examples of available books include: Jenny Craig No Diet Required, The Jenny Craig Cookbook: Cutting Through the Fat, Simple Pleasures: Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul.

ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review

Pros And Cons


  • You don't have to count calories
  • You can eat snacks and dessert even during Phase 1
  • Lots of reading material and recipes available online
  • Less restrictive and more balanced diet than Atkins in the long term


  • Not great for people who can't eat dairy
  • Phase 1 may be too restrictive for some to follow

Key Features

Coming soon


As with all weight-loss diets, you should check with your doctor or health care provider before starting on the South Beach Diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease.
The South Beach Diet has received excellent online reviews from customers on Amazon, but it sounds like many have trouble sticking with the plan long-term and maintaining their weight loss. In a US News poll, South Beach ranked 14th in the "Best Diets Overall" category and only about 7.5% of dieters said South Beach worked for them. Nutritionists like South Beach over Atkins because it meets the important criteria for a healthy diet: it emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein while not omitting any major food group. That said, not all of the nutrition and health claims made by the South Beach Diet book are true. In 2006, the Journal of General Internal Medicine published an evaluation of 42 of these claims and found that only 33% could be confirmed by findings in the scientific literature. 17% were not supported, 43% yielded "both supported and not supported" results, and 3 claims had no support for or against.


Customer Responses, Reviews, or Complaints

Scottsdale, AZ
Weight Loss Program Review
Review submitted: 2013-11-07
In the past I have tried a few different weight loss programs in order to lose a few pounds. I just want to be healthy all of the time and lead a healthy lifestyles without yoyo-ing weight issues. Some of the ones I have tried are very dramatic and I will probably never try those again because they are too severe and I just don't think I'm cut out for those. I am more interested in the programs that are a day to day healthy lifestyle rather than a quick fix all or nothing type. There are so many programs out there, I am always willing to try new things and new programs but I would like to use the knowledge in order to lead my own healthy life and not rely on a program everyday.
Westminster, MD
Weight Loss
Review submitted: 2013-10-15
Used South Beach diet program to lose weight. Program was successful and I felt healthy and fit while on the diet. I bought the book which was extremely informative in preparing for a diet. I did not feel hungry and liked the structure that allowed for between meal snacks that helped prevent the urge to binge. Meals and recipes were easy to follow and prepare after ensuring the proper items were bought. Downside was the diet required daily preparation of meals to take to work which added an extra 30-60 minutes to morning routine. It was difficult to not have fruit the 1st two weeks, I was in heaven the day I could have grapefruit and toast for breakfast. I learned to make changes to my daily diet and shopping habits even when not on the structured diet, such as buying whole grain breads. The program could be costly for persons on strict budgets and/or multiple family members. This diet plan works well as long as the person plans shopping and meal preparations in advance to avoid cheating. I was able to lose 70+ pounds over a one year period and with eating modification have been able to keep weight off.

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