Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

I suppose the following is as much of a review of the diet as it is of the book, but they seem hard to separate. How, after all, can one review the book without trying the diet?

My initial exposure to the South Beach Diet was during a conversation with my father. During a visit at his home, I noticed that a copy of the book was on the table. I asked my father if he was trying the diet, to which he had replied that he had lost over 10 pounds in just 2 months. Given that I felt about 20 to 25 pounds overweight, I was also interested in losing weight, so we started discussing it.

From that moment, I virtually cut out all breads, pastas, and rice, reduced my fruit intake by 80% or more, reduced refined sugar intake by 90%, and began drinking Metamucil prior to lunch and dinner. The most immediate result was that within a couple of days I felt better than I had recalled feeling in years, notably better. It was not that I felt bad; I just did not know that I could feel better. It should be noted here that this effect appears to be specific to me as it does not seem to be mentioned, as I recall, in the book as an effect for others.

So I bought the book. Even better, I actually read it!

I found the book to be an easy read. The author mixes in a sufficient amount of science and test results to give one a feel for the "why it works" and "what to expect" of the diet. My only criticism is that I found the testimonials to be a bit on the overly-promotional side, sort of like "AND THAT'S NOT ALL, YOU'LL ALSO GET THIS SET OF KNIVES", if you will. Regardless, these testimonials are in boxes, easily identifiable such that you can take them or leave them. In my opinion, read a couple, then skip them.

After reading the book, I began following the diet more religiously, completely cutting out carbs, fruits, and sugars for about 3 weeks, then only reintroducing negligible amounts of high fiber breads, fruits, and sugars. In about 3 months I have gone from 220 pounds to 197 pounds, although it should be mentioned that I have also increased my level of exercise. Regardless, I believe that the majority of my weight loss is attributable to the diet.

The change has been so dramatic it is really not believable. It is as if the weight just melted off of me. Frankly, I never thought it could come off so easily and quickly. Put me down as impressed.

My father's total weight loss, in his case with no change in exercise, is now in excess of 25 pounds, all in about 4 months. You can also count him as impressed.

Along the way, I have seldom been hungry. The key to this diet is to eat lots and lots of vegetables, which I do, in addition to eating meats, eggs, and nuts, up to and until content, in sensible amounts. When I'm particularly hungry, I keep grazing on celery, bell peppers, and cucumbers until I'm full.

The only time I have found myself hungry is when I was not prepared. The South Beach Diet is a low carb diet in a high carb world. I have learned to always have a pocketful of nuts with me, which can generally get one through a stretch of time when one just can't stop and slice a cucumber. At this point, I cannot imagine that I'll ever get off of this seemingly healthier diet.

I have recommended this diet to a number of friends, and I recommend it to you. Buy the book. Follow the diet. It is quite likely that this book will change your (then quite possibly longer) life.

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