The Southbeach Diet is nothing but the regular food pyramid applied with increased awareness as to the different types of carbohydrates.
Based on their glycemic index, carbohydrates can be divided into:
- GOOD CARBS, or carbs with an acceptably low glycemic index – mainly starches from whole grain products (such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta) and fiber from fruit and vegetables
- BAD CARBS, or carbs with high glycemic index – in particular sugars (such as glucose, sucrose, maltose, etc)
Exceptions: Fructose (a sugar present in fruit and certain vegetables) has a a low glycemic index. Lactose (a sugar present in milk and dairy products) also has a fairly low glycemic index.
For the same amount of calories, carbs with low glycemic index cause less weight gain and curb hunger better than carbs with higher glycemic index.
The Southbeach Diet classifies foods based on the type of carbs they contain – into foods with low, intermediate and high glycemic index. The usage of foods containing good carbs (of low glycemic index) is encouraged, concomitant with avoidance of foods containing bad carbs (of high glycemic index).
Looking at the regular food pyramid, we can see the very same recommendations:
- Good carbs (whole grain breads and cereals, rice, pasta) are recommended as the mainstay of one’s diet, followed by vegetables and fruit.
- Bad carbs (sweets or sugars), on the other hand, are recommended to be used sparingly.
The importance of the South Beach Diet was of drawing public attention to the dietary role of carbs, and educating people as to what constitutes good carbs versus bad carbs.