South Beach Diet Diary

Does it work for a fitness walker?

South Beach Diet Book
South Beach Diet Book. Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

The South Beach Diet was developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD. It is based on re-educating the palate and body to appropriate carbohydrates and fats. In doing so, it promises to lower the bad cholesterol, and in many cases to reduce body fat.

In Phase One of the South Beach Diet, all starches and chief sources of carbohydrates are eliminated for two weeks. The dieter has free rein with lean meat, reduced fat cheese, unsaturated fats, and non-starchy vegetables.

In Phase Two, small amounts of carbohydrates are reintroduced, with an emphasis on whole grains and continued elimination of processed carbohydrates such as white flour.

South Beach Diet Program and Support

The South Beach Diet program is contained in the book The South Beach Diet. The book itself coaches you through the diet plan.In addition to the first book, there are follow-up books. These include cookbooks, dining out guides, beginner's guides and more. They have expanded with a food delivery service for convenience and packaged bars.

I also joined South Beach Diet Online. The online version allows easy printing of menus, recipes, and shopping lists, and has a message board for support and interaction. At the time I used the diet, there was a fee for the online site. As of 2015, they also have a mobile app.

Why I Chose the South Beach Diet

I was forced to stick with lower walking mileage while healing up from iliotibial band syndrome.

I had been maintaining a steady weight with no set diet, but it was time to change. My husband and I bought a gas grill in June and had been grilling most meals. I could see that it would be easy to adhere to the South Beach Diet for dinner - I could have the grilled meat and grilled vegetables while not being much tempted by my husband's baked potato or rice.

I wouldn't buy any good bread, which is my temptation.

If I were able to continue my long-distance marathon walking training, I would not use Phase 1 of this diet. Carbohydrates are needed by endurance athletes. But for those who are walking 2 hours or less at a time, this diet should be OK so long as you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your walk. Carbohydrates are reintroduced after the first two weeks, making it a bit more acceptable for endurance walking.

For breakfast, the program recommends lots of omelets and frittatas, which I enjoy and which are quick to make. For lunch, a salad with some chicken or turkey which I often take anyway. For snacks - my favorite, string cheese. All of this sounded easy enough and in line with my favorite foods, sans the bread and chips and crackers and energy bars I often relied on for a quick snack.

Besides convenience, I am also very concerned over family history of diabetes and I have wanted to eliminate the trans-fat from my diet. The South Beach Diet sounded like a good education program to get me into healthier eating patterns.

Day Zero

On the first semi-day of the South Beach Diet program, I began to read the South Beach Diet book. For breakfast I had four Morningstar Farms imitation chicken nuggets while I put the rest of the package of them on spinach for my lunch salad, with the last of my orange salad dressing. I wasn't sure how that fit with the program, although I later learned it wasn't too far off.
Snacks: Cooked chicken breast (salad type) and a couple of Laughing Cow cheese wedges
Dinner: I had to go shopping to collect the ingredients I would need for the next few days.

My cart filled up with vegetables, herbs, and appropriate cheeses. For dinner I grilled mahi mahi with skewers of zucchini, red pepper, and mushrooms. For dessert, I made the Mocha Ricotta dessert from the South Beach Diet book. It was quite satisfying.

Day One

Morning weight: Down a half pound
Breakfast: Omelet with prepared egg mix (no yolks) and red bell pepper and Canadian bacon. I then went to exercise class and my treatment massage.
Snack: My mid-morning snack was two ham rollups - thin lunchmeat hame on a lettuce leaf with cilantro mayonnaise, a strip of red pepper and a scallion. These were delicious, if a bit messy!
Lunch: Prepared chicken on baby spinach with Caesar dressing, and a string cheese stick.
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast and grilled vegetable skewers. Lemon Ricotta for dessert.
Missing the carbs? Nope.
Hungry? I had a snack whenever I felt hungry, and I felt full by the end of each meal.

I got very hungry between the end of work and commuting home. Once home I had some low fat cottage cheese, but still felt like I needed to have dinner within the hour.
Energy: I am still recovering from the Portland to Coast Weekend. I felt fine at exercise class and didn't feel drowsy all morning. An hour after lunch I felt quite drowsy as usual.

Convenience: I might have grabbed an energy bar for breakfast instead, but it took only a minute to cook the omelet. It is easy to know what is allowed and what is not allowed. No measuring, no weighing, no calorie tracking.
Other symptoms: I don't usually have heartburn or acid reflux, but I found myself having a couple of acid burps. I hope this is just a stray occurence and doesn't turn out to be how my body will continue to react to a lack of carbs.

I got up and weighed myself and to my surprise I was down 1.5 pounds from yesterday, over two pounds from the morning of Day Zero on the South Beach Diet. I noticed last night that my wedding ring was able to come off my finger, which has been difficult for the past six months. There is a definite water weight loss.

I am surprised that the water weight loss is so dramatic since I don't believe I reduced calories all that much in the past two days.

I have had plenty of cheese and extra cottage cheese, etc. as snacks.

I discussed this with my husband and he was interested in trying it himself, although with his odd eating patterns and narrow range of food choices it would be hard to wean him off the pretzels and popcorn he uses as bulk staples. But he needs to lose the spare tire to reduce his cardiac risk factors, so I shall at least feed him South Beach dinners.

Breakfast Delight

For breakfast, I cooked veggie mini-quiches. Delicious! They are only 77 calories each and so you can eat two or more. They are very tasty. I modify the basic recipe to match the vegetables I have at hand. You can make a batch and freeze them for future use, and they should taste as good cold as hot.

Lunch and Dinner

For lunch, I made the South Beach Chopped Salad with Tuna. It was delicious , although I decided to use the whole avocado rather than just the 1/3 cup recommended - I didn't know what to do with the other half.

Dinner was a grilled top loin steak, grilled mushrooms and peppers, and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I had the Mocha Ricotta for dessert.

Cravings: Whenever I was hungry, I ate another of the Quiche Cups. I went shopping at Costco and had only minor qualms at passing up the chocolate chip cookie sample, but I did have the cheese sample.

Hunger: Not especially hungrier than normal. The chopped salad was nicely filling, and dinner was very filling. It seemed like I was eating lots all day long and I worried that I wouldn't lose weight.

Weigh-In Next Morning

I was down another pound, now down over 3 pounds. That may be the extent of my water weight loss as I am now down the the lowest weight I have been so far this year. We shall see. The test will come to see if the next five pounds come off. It was very interesting to me to see that come off since I ate salty foods all day and had more of the avocado thanĀ 

I began Day Three of the South Beach Diet with a couple of the vegetable quiche cups, which were delicious cold. Today is a walking day, and I'm concerned with what to eat as a walking snack. I meet my walking team mates and carpool to the walk. We have a very nice 11 kilometer (7 mile) walk as the day warms up. At the end of the walk, team mate Dave suggests going to New Seasons Market for stir fry.

We agree and so I get my first challenge at eating out.

Lunch Out: At the market, I can choose the ingredients for the stir fry. I leave out the noodles and select red and green peppers, onions, pea pods, cabbage, chicken, and a traditional sauce that won't have added carbs. We eat our lunches out on the patio and enjoy more conversation. My selection tastes fine and I don't miss the noodles or rice.

Home again, I work on my web site and I have a snack that's probably not quite right - honey roasted peanuts. A few peanuts are OK, but the added sugar probably not. I finish off the vegetable quiches, they are just delicious. For a late afternoon snack I have a serving of the gazpacho soup from the book.

Dinner: I make spinach stuffed mushrooms. You stuff the mushrooms with spinach and the sauteed stems of the mushrooms. We have some of the leftover steak from the night before. The mushrooms are a real winner with my husband and with me.

Overall: I overcame challenges in eating out but eating correctly. I learned a new dish to make - the mushrooms. My husband is now interested in joining me in the program.

Day Four

Weighing in, I dropped another half pound.

This was another walking day - 10 kilometers this time. I made myself a mushroom and red pepper egg scramble for breakfast.

Once again our gang decided to have stir fry at the New Seasons Market. This time I had the peanut sauce on it. I know it may have some coconut oil in the sauce, which is not an approved fat. My friend Elaine is thinking of switching over to South Beach Diet from Atkins because her cholesterol has gone up on Atkins. She also misses vegetables, which are very big on the South Beach Diet but kept low on Atkins.

Dinner Out: Having had an early lunch, my husband and I went for an early dinner at the Lakeside Grill. This restaurant features Atkins-friendly dinners. But I noted the ingredients in the Atkins T-Bone steak dinner and decided I would have my usual favorite, the Ribeye Steak with Crawfish. I didn't eat any of the excellent bread, and I had them substitute the Atkins-friendly string beans for the usual mashed potatoes. I was very full by the end of the meal. I didn't like their garlic spinach and only ate a couple spoonfuls. My own spinach dishes at home are so much better! .

Day Five was Labor Day. I made an omelet of egg substitute, diced red peppers and onions and a little reduced fat cheese. Then off to walk through a Corn Maze. Our gang of six walking friends had a fun time wandering through the maze, using trivia questions at critical junctions to guide us. That took less than an hour. I had a few peanuts for a snack. Then my friend Rachel and I took another 2 mile walk before I headed home

Lunch: Gazpacho soup and some Canadian bacon. The breakfast omelet had really kept me satisfied, as it was 12:30 or later before I could eat.

Dinner: Grilled mahi mahi marinated in Paul Newman's Caesar Dressing. An article from the Wall Street Journal says that almost all of Paul Newman's products are free of trans fat. It is our staple marinade for fish and chicken and shrimp, and darn good on salad, too! We had grilled vegetables and I boiled some sweet corn for my husband from the corn maze produce shop. I was tempted to have half an ear, but resisted. Mocha Ricotta again for dessert.


After five days, I am down four pounds and I really notice where they came off. As the book said, I have lost a lot on my gut and breasts, and my face also looks thinner. The morning of Day 6 I really like how I look in my slacks - the protruding paunch is substantially reduced.

Cravings: I haven't had much problem with cravings.

Convenience: I like not having to chart everything I eat in order to calculate calories, portions, or points. I have adopted the rule of thumb for Phase 1: breakfast of 1 cup of veggies and unlimited lean protein. Lunch and dinner of 2 cups of veggies each meal and unlimited lean protein. Plus appropriate snacks.

Snack Trouble: The biggest challenge is what to take along walking as a snack. Most appropriate snacks require refrigeration - meats, cheese, vegetables. Those are hard to toss into a fanny pack. I need to research the book for snacks that don't require chilling. I have started using peanuts, but I know they should be somewhat limited in use.

Day Six

Weight: Down slightly, about 0.2 pounds a day the past couple of days.
Breakfast: Omelet with sweet peppers and onion. I can get used to that! Takes about the same time to make as toast.
Lunch: Gazpacho soup (the recipe makes four servings and it has kept very well) and some of the prepared grilled chicken. Snacks of string cheese and red sweet pepper.
Dinner: Mediterranean Salad from the book - delicious. My husband ate later and I whipped him up a variation of the South Beach Chopped Salad. His comment, "How come you never made this before, it's great!"
Energy: Perhaps I am finally recovering from the race a week ago, but I was not drowsy at all at any time during the day, which is unusual and welcome!

Day Seven

Weight: Down slightly, about 0.2 pounds
Breakfast: Omelet with sweet peppers and onion.
Lunch: Potluck Challenge! I made sure to bring something I could eat - Chinese barbecued pork.

I made good choices as they arrived. Sauerkraut but not the sausages and buns. Pot roast. Salad with a bit of taco filling on top. I finally gave in to a small portion of a hot chocolate chip cookie. I figured the rest of the meal would take care of the glycemic index. I was able to navigate the potluck minefield with only cravings for that cookie.
Dinner: Salad with avocado, cheese, and lime juice as the only dressing. Then after 8 pm we grilled thick pork chops and my husband urged me to add a brown sugar and mustard coating to them. Again, I didn't think a bit of sugar on a huge pork portion would make my insulin go bonkers.

Energy: Once again, I was not drowsy at any time during the day. I hope this continues.

Final Weigh-in at One Week

Down 4.6 pounds - I dropped 0.6 in the last day, to a new low weight for the entire year.
Noticeable difference in my gut size, breasts, and face.
I am loving this diet.

Next: South Beach Diet Diary - Week 2

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