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The South Beach Diet Controversy

we have been talking about the South Beach diet a bit recently, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman has written us to strenuously object to our highlighting this diet. Here is a new blog post about his concerns and it has a link to a new article we published.


Tue. Jan 27, 11:39am

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First off, I have to say that I might be a little biased having lost more than 50 pounds healthfully on the South Beach Diet. Dr. Furhman has obviously not read Dr. Agatston's book because there are several erroneous claims in the article. For example, Dr. Furhman said that the typical SB breakfast includes two eggs and "lean bacon." Well, pork, although allowed in moderation, is not part of our daily breakfast, it is turkey bacon - and we're only allowed two slices a day. Plus there is no "typical" SB breakfast. Dr. Agatston provides many alternatives to bacon. You can even make up your own using SB principles.

Another false claim is that the diet recommends "yo-yo" dieting. In phase one, people could lose up to 10 pounds, not 13, and the average person loses about 5-8, Dr. A even says so in the book. We never gain back weight on the other phases, we plateau at the beginning of phase II but eventually we start losing again. My weight has not gone up but ONCE (one pound) the whole five months I have been on the diet.

Also, with the South Beach Diet, I cleansed my body of the desire to eat crappy food. I don't get violent cravings for junk food that lead me to Red Robin at night, and this is thanks to the South Beach Diet.

Everyone has a right to pick and choose their own diet. Some may choose the South Beach Diet and we don't need "scare tactics" and doctors telling us false things and making us believe that if we do a highly effective diet, we might die.

Dr. Furhman should promote his own diet, not portray others to be "deadly" as he did in this article.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:26 PM

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Hear hear to 12:26 who sums up both my experience with SB and opinions about the criticism (or sensationalism).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:29 PM

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There has not been one reported death among South Beach Diet followers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:38 PM

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Wow to think what one doc will say to get more followers on a plan of his..SB has been very good to me, I am eating many veggies and lean meats as well as healthy amounts of dairy etc..and have never been more healthy ..this is via my physical I just had a week ago. all my blood levels are the best they have been and my weight is great so I think I will just take the que's from my own personal doctor. She was so pleased with my overall health!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 12:50 PM

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everyone is probably a little right- does the diet work for a lot of people? Of course. is there something to what he is saying- probably. And he is not the only one. I read the article and there are a bunch of notes at the end of it. This is one:


Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 1:32 PM

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Sudden Cardiac Death on low carb or low fat diets....

This is a link to an abstract of a study done by albert einstein collge in nyc:

Objective: To evaluate the change in potassium after initiating a low-carbohydrate or low-fat weight loss diet.

Methods: Participants randomized to a low-carbohydrate (low-CHO) or a low-fat diet had serum potassium measured at baseline, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month after dietary initiation. Paired t tests and repeated measure analysis of variance (ANOVA) compared changes within each subject and between groups.

Results: Mean potassium (4.29 mmol/L + 0.41) was similar in both groups at baseline. The low-CHO arm (n = 48) had a mean decrease of 0.16 mmol/L ± 0.49 (P = 0.03) over one month, and the low-fat arm (n = 47) had a reduction of 0.19 ± 0.45 (P = 0.006). Serum potassium decreased within 3 days of diet initiation in the low-CHO arm, and at one week in the low-fat arm. Five participants (3 in low-CHO arm) required potassium supplementation for serum potassium <3.5 mmol/L.

Conclusions: Minor decreases in potassium occurred after initiating both diets, and was more rapid after the low-CHO diet. These decreases may be clinically meaningful in some patients.

Key Points

* Minor decreases in serum potassium can occur when starting either a low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet.

* Decreases in serum potassium after initiating low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet are greater in patients on non-potassium sparing diuretics.

* Serum potassium should be monitored closely in patients initiating low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 1:36 PM

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I acknowledge that there could be a possibility of death when following this type of diet, but at the same time isn't the same true for a lot of diets out there? Why are we just picking on the one? What about Slim Fast? That seems abnormal and healthy. At least south beach advocates for the consumption of whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean meats, good fats (MUFAS) and no processed foods and not two sugary, "diet shakes" a day. Let's examine other diets as well.

I also have to question Dr. Fuhrman's motivation. Why is he just picking on South Beach? Why not pick on slim fast, a far inferior and less healthy diet? I don't know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 2:24 PM

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I am pretty sure we could get him to start talking about a lot of diets. This promises to be an interesting conversation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 2:39 PM

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I have to credit SBD for getting me to eat healthy. I was on WW first, but I was eating a lot of junk food that were just low in points. When I went on SBD, I started eating a lot of vegetables, whole grain, and lean meat. My experience has been about the same as 12:26 poster. I lost 8 pounds during phase 1. I stopped losing for a while when I went on phase 2, but I didn't gain the weight back. I started losing again after that.

People tend to group SBD with Atkins diet, but they are not the same. SBD does not advocate eating bacon and fatty meat. And cutting out carbs is only for the 2-week phase 1 to get ourselves weaned off of carb addiction. SBD also says that if you really want carbs, you can have it in phase 1 as long as you stick to the healthy kind.

So my diet of choice, or rather my eating lifestyle of choice is SBD combined with WW. Recently, I've started doing "carb cycling", i.e. alternating no carb, low carb, and high carb days because I have a tendency to increase my carb intake if I'm not careful, and this allows me to have my carbs on certain days, but the no carb days keeps my carb intake in check.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 5:45 PM

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This is PP.
Since Dr. Fuhrman is mentioned here, I'll share my experience with his book. Although his book makes a lot of sense theoretically, it was not very practical for me. I totally went off track after trying to go on his diet for a couple of weeks. It might have been a little too restrictive for me. I guess it works for some people, but it just wasn't for me. I do follow his general concept of eat more vegetables, but SBD works a lot better for me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 5:54 PM

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