How to Make Menus for the South Beach Diet Phase One

Phase One Menus Made Easy

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Planning what to eat on the South Beach Diet needn’t be a daunting task if you follow this simple approach. This plan works for Phase One, but it is also the basis for ​Phase Two Menu Planning.

First, make sure you are familiar with the diet and what you can eat on it.

Next, familiarize yourself with this outline of three meals plus two snacks. In his Phase One menus, Agatston further breaks dessert out separately.

In this scenario, you would be eating six times per day, so it’s important to think in terms of spreading your eating out over many smaller meals instead of fewer large ones. (This has the advantage of evening out your blood sugar as well.) Now, let’s tackle the meals one by one:

South Beach Breakfasts – Phase One

Breakfast should consist of:

  • A serving of protein, such as eggs, meat, tofu, or cottage cheese
  • At least one serving of vegetables or tomato juice or vegetable cocktail juice (such as V-8)
  • A calorie-free beverage such as coffee or tea

There is no limit on any of these foods except the dairy, so if you are still hungry, eat a little more.


    South Beach Lunches

    Lunch should consist of:

    • A serving of approved protein (serving size not limited, but don’t overeat)
    • Several servings of vegetables, including beans (legumes). In the South Beach book, almost all of the Phase One lunches are meal salads or include side salads.
    • 1 to 2 Tablespoons of salad dressing (see Fats and Oils on the South Beach Diet)


    South Beach Dinners

    Dinners should consist of the following. Of course, they can be combined and cooked in any way, and spiced how you like. This can turn into a Mexican, Asian, or Italian meal, for example.

    • A serving of approved protein (serving size not limited, but don’t overeat)
    • Several servings of vegetables, including beans (legumes).
    • Dairy - check how much you have left, and add in as desired - you might want to save it for dessert (see Dairy Products on the South Beach Diet)
    • Approved fat for cooking or dressing vegetables – 1-2 Tablespoons
    • Calorie-free beverage


    South Beach Snacks

    The South Beach Diet requires two snacks per day. The ideal snack has both a vegetable and a protein source (Sensing a theme? All low-carb diets rely heavily on these two food categories.) For example, you could stuff celery with tuna salad, dip raw veggies into a bean dip, or have a hard-boiled egg along with whatever raw veggies you fancy.

    Nuts are also an excellent snack, as they have protein and fiber together (note serving size).



    Unlike snacks, dessert is not required on the South Beach Diet. Most of the desserts in the Phase One Menus of the South Beach Diet book are some form of flavored ricotta cheese (I love ricotta-based treats myself). Also, 75 calories of sugar-free "sweet treats” are allowed per day. Any acceptable snack would be fine as an evening snack as well if you are hungry.

    Sources of Menus for the South Beach Diet Phase One

    1. The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston contains two weeks worth of Phase One menus.
    1. Admittedly, most of the low-carb menus on this site wouldn’t work for Phase One of the South Beach diet, mostly because almost all of them contain fruit. Menu #6 is an exception, although you could add milk or other dairy and more veggies at dinner.

    After a few days, I recommend you start looking ahead to Phase Two so that you can plan accordingly.


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