Weigh in: -2.5 pounds, Happy Dance
Very Personal Observations on South Beach Phase 1
Disclaimer: You have to make your own food choices and modifications. I’m not a South Beach purist but it’s working for me.
The South Beach diet is really not too far away from my usual eating with a few exceptions. Phase 1 is very strict with no fruits or whole grains allowed and it seems to me an emphasis on animal proteins, cheeses and processed foods. It would be difficult to eat a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet in Phase 1 and 2. I can work with this on the short term and I’ll just be careful when I add back higher carbohydrate whole foods. I’m so grateful that I wasn’t trying to come down from the average American diet. Phase 1 would have been very difficult but maybe that’s the point to really overhaul your diet. My carb cravings were gone by day 3 and I actually found that I wasn’t craving wine every afternoon, probably because I made sure I wasn’t thirsty or ravenous at 4pm, my “witching hour” for bad choices.
Breakfast: You probably noticed that the weekly menus don’t include breakfast. In general, you shouldn’t skip breakfast. I made the decision to continue to drink my morning low-fat lattes for breakfast, this is more milk that is allowed on Phase 1 but it gives me a few carbs to start my day especially on my hard workout days. I tried drinking coffee and cream on days 1-3 but I was so weak after working out that I decided that I need a little glycogen stores and I can’t go very very low carb. You decide for yourself, some people really like ketosis from very low carb diets, but I’m ok with eating 30-75 grams of carbohydrate in Phase 1. This is still considered a low carb diet. The ADA recommends something like 270 grams per day for a well balanced diet, but I’m losing weight and feeling good on a low carb diet. I’m choosing nutrient dense vegetables and will add fruit and whole grains in a week or so, which will let me meet my nutritional goals.
Snacks: I was really falling down the snack “rabbit hole” in the evening after dinner before starting South Beach so replacing my carb snacks with protein and fat was critical for my success. However, I was meat and cheese overwhelmed this week. Deli turkey roll ups? Hate them. I’m not a big sandwich eater so maybe that’s why I couldn’t tolerate deli meat even though I bought nitrate free turkey. Laughing cow and string cheese? Flavorless. I found a smoked salmon cream cheese at Trader Joe’s that was more palatable on celery as a snack. I found that if I reached for an approved snack first, then I really wasn’t craving chips or crackers. For crunch cravings I bought Parmesan crisps at Sam’s club. These really help with the cracker, chip addiction. Just having approved snacks available was a win because I knew I could have one. I actually didn’t eat very many snacks this week. This is where I really cut calories because I wasn’t ever hungry. Win!
Meals: The lunches and dinners were close to how I eat already with protein and vegetables. My husband didn’t even notice any change. I made him a baked potato one day and he was thrilled. He had lots of fruit available as usual. I ate more greens, arugula and spinach by making large salads so that was a win and a strategy to keep. This week, I’m adding a vegetarian day, more fish, less red meat and less cheese to stay true to my usual style. I have to be careful not to go low-fat because fat satisfies and helps reduce cravings. I really didn’t miss grains and potatoes because I substituted cauliflower mash and cauliflower rice. I also found that finally diced sautéed mushrooms satisfies my carbohydrate side dish craving. In Phase 2, I can add back more legumes for vegan meals and fruit because it’s delicious and has necessary nutrients. I don’t think that small fruit servings cause carb cravings for me.
Desserts: I had really fallen down here with nightly sweets so I appreciate the substitutions. I try to use only natural sweeteners but stevia seems to be palatable and safe. It’s a trade off to use artificial sweeteners instead of real sugars but it really helped stop the sugar buzz, craving, sugar buzz cycle for me. I’m ok with that for now. I actually liked stevia sweetened ricotta with lemon, it tasted a little like cheese cake with imagination and it helped with the after dinner “I want a dessert” feeling. I also liked ricotta tiramisu with espresso powder, cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon. I would actually serve that to guests. Adkins peanut butter cups were a nice find and substitute for candy but you need to beware that more than one or two will have a laxative effect.
Worst part of Phase 1: Muscle weakness and fatigue on days 1-3. This could have been from dehydration or low sodium, you dump a lot of water and sodium in the first days of a low carb diet. I increased my water and used salt at the table like a normal person. I also felt like I needed a few more carbs in the morning before working out hard so I added milk.
Best part: I’m not craving high sugar and high carbohydrates foods. I had episodes of, “I’m really hungry and I need to eat” which is different from, “I need sugar now!” which is a craving. I think about having sugar or processed carbohydrate treats but only in a passing way, not in a desperate way.
My wine craving was markedly reduced so it must have something to do with staying hydrated and not letting my blood sugar drop in the afternoon. I found that very interesting and helpful. Alcohol is never weigh loss friendly.
These blogs are really for me to process my journey to losing 10 pounds of American fat but if you find them interesting or you are following a low carb diet then please comment. I can use the support.
Next blog: Weekly Phase 1 Menu and shopping list.
I leave you with photos from Lake Tahoe, enjoy.