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The South Beach Diet Super Charged

Book Review

The South Beach Diet Super Charged
By Arthur Agatston, MD, with Joseph Signorile, PhD
Rodale (2008)
Reviewed by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN


South Beach Super Charged is an updated version of the original South Beach Diet (Rodale 2003). This version claims to burn more calories and fat in less time to help readers lose weight (especially belly fat), decrease cravings for sugary and starchy carbs, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and improve overall health. The original book claimed to help readers lose eight to 13 pounds during the first two-week diet phase and one to two pounds per week on phase two.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

Like the original South Beach Diet, this version guides readers to choose high-fiber carbohydrates found in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats, lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy. There are three diet phases:

  • Phase One is a two-week period that restricts many foods including fruit and whole grains.
  • Phase Two lasts as long as a person wants to lose weight and adds back fruit and whole grains.
  • Phase Three is a weight maintenance phase and has a bit more flexibility.

A typical day in any phase includes three meals, two snacks and one dessert and averages about 1,500 calories. There are four weeks of meal plans and all recipes include nutrition information.

The diet now adds 20 minutes of daily exercise that alternates between a walking workout and a body toning program to boost metabolism and prevent plateaus. The exercise plan focuses on interval walking and core strengthening. The interval walking program alternates between short bursts of intensive effort and easier recovery periods as opposed to working at a steady continuous pace. The core strengthening program develops muscles in the back, abdomen, pelvis and hips to increase overall strength and flexibility and improve bone density and muscle tone. The book explains how the daily exercise will not only burn calories while exercising, but also increase "after burn," or the calories burned after exercise. The exercise program is written in three phases to help readers progress gradually and includes photos of all strengthening exercises.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Phase One of the diet restricts healthy food groups and is not a well-balanced eating plan. Phases Two and Three focus on realistic and well-balanced meals while permitting occasional indulgences. The exercise program doesn't require buying expensive equipment or gym memberships, encourages a gradual and safe progression and the photos show proper form to prevent injuries. The addition of success stories, easy recipes and specific strategies for dining out make this an inspiring and realistic approach to getting healthy.

Bottom Line

Readers are likely to see success using this diet and fitness book. I recommend skipping the restrictive Phase One meal plans and instead follow the more balanced Phase Two diet. The simple 20-minute-a-day exercise program is a realistic and inexpensive approach to fitness.