south beach diet phase 1 explained

South Beach Diet: Phase 1 Explained

Phase One of the SouthBeach Diet: The South Beach Diet is a popular weight loss program based around the monthly delivery of their prepared low-carb, high protein, portioned meals together with drinking lots of water and an active lifestyle. (reviews / cost)

The goal of the diet is to cut carbs and cravings while teaching you to be a mindful eater, so that making healthy food choices becomes a habit.

Why a low carb diet? Research shows that cutting carbs is an effective way to curb your hunger and cravings and lose weight quickly. When you eat a low carb diet, your body starts to burn fat  (instead of carbs) as fuel.

There are 3 phases in the South Beach Diet, and it all starts with the all-important Phase 1, aka “The 7-Day Reboot.”

South Beach Diet: About Phase 1:

“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start” – Do-Re-Mi, The Sound of Music

Phase 1 is the foundation of the South Beach Diet, and it does three important things:

  1. Resets your body
  2. Reduces your cravings
  3. Prepares you for a period of gradual and sustainable weight loss

The meals delivered by The South Beach Diet are central to achieving these goals, but you’ll also compliment the prepared meals with fresh food from the grocery store. You should also drink 8 cups of water a day (64 oz.) during Phase 1.

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Here’s how eating during Phase One works:

Phase 1 Rules: Eating

During Phase One you’ll eat 6 smaller meals per day. These meals consist of:

  • 3 South Beach Diet Meals: (Prepared) Breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees are already made! You’ll just add fresh grocery store foods as side-dishes
  • 3 Homemade Snacks of your choice (see below)

All of the daily “side-dishes” and snacks come from the South Beach Diet list of approved lean proteins, healthy fats, and non-startchy vegetables.

WOMEN can select: (per day) 

  • 3 lean proteins
  • 2 healthy fats
  • 5 non-starchy vegetables

MEN can select: (per day)

  • 4 lean proteins
  • 3 healthy fats
  • 5 non-starchy vegetables

 Phase 1: Food List

south beach diet phase 1 food

Here are some of the approved foods that you can eat during Phase 1:

★ Lean Proteins:

Proteins are central to the Southbeach Diet and the building blocks of muscle and healthy bones. Protein also digests slowly, making you feel fuller for a longer time. Remember to select lean or trimmed cuts of beef, pork, and poultry whenever possible. Here are the approved proteins for Phase 1: (*Portions: 3 oz. unless noted.)

BEEF (Lean):
• ground beef (93% lean)
• steak (t-bone, sirloin, London broil, round, flank)
• ground sirloin
• pastrami (98% lean)
• boiled ham
• Canadian bacon
• pork loin (chop or roast)
• smoked ham (uncured)
• tenderloin
• chicken breast (skinless)
• ground chicken breast
• ground turkey breast
• turkey bacon (4 slices)
• turkey sausage (low fat, 2oz.)
• fish (all types)
• sashimi
• shrimp & shellfish
• canned tuna / salmon (in water)
(2 oz; lower-sodium, all natural)
• chicken breast
• ham (boiled, uncured)
• roast beef (lean)
• turkey breast
(Lean, no more than once per week)
• center cut
• chop
• loin (chop or roast)
(*Portion: 1oz. or 1/4 cup unless noted)
• blue cheese
• cheddar
• cottage cheese (low fat, 1/2 cup)
• feta
• goat cheese
• mozzarella
• parmesan
• provolone
• ricotta (1/2 cup)
• Swiss cheese
• egg whites (3 large)
• whole egg

(*Portion: 1 cup unless noted. Limit to 2 servings per day)
• buttermilk
• Greek yogurt (full-fat, plain, 5.3 oz. )
• Kefir (plain)
• milk (whole or soy)

*So, how big of a potion is 3 oz of meat? For cooked beef, pork, poultry, and fish, it’s about the size of a deck of cards! For ground meat, it’s a little smaller than your fist.

★ Healthy Fats:

Healthy fats keep you feeling full and help to curb cravings. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, and almonds plus polyunsaturated fats like walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fresh salmon. (Portions: nuts & seeds = 1oz., limit to 1 serving per day) 

(Portion = 1oz., limit to 1 serving per day)
• almonds
• brazil nuts
• cashews
• chia seeds
• coconut (unsweet, 1/4 cup)
• coconut milk (unsweet, 1/4 cup)
• flaxseeds (ground or whole)
• hazelnuts
• macadamia nuts
• peanuts
• pecans
• pine nuts
• pistachios
• pumpkin seeds
• sesame seeds
• soy nuts
• sunflower seeds
• walnuts
(*Portion: 2 Tbsp. Choose full-fat, oil-based over "creamy.")
• Italian dressing
• vinaigrette

(*Portion: 1 Tbsp.)
• canola
• coconut (extra-virgin)
• corn
• flaxseed
• grapeseed
• olive oil (extra-virgin)
• peanut
• safflower
• sesame
• soybean
• sunflower
• walnut
(Portion = 2 Tbsp)
• almond butter
• cashew butter
• peanut butter (natural)
• avocado (1/2 fruit)
• guacamole (1/4 cup)
• mayonaise (1 Tbsp)
• olives (black or green, 15-20)

★ Non-Starchy Vegetables:

Phase 1 limits your vegetables to the “non-starchy” variety. (sorry, no potatoes, peas, or corn!) These are great as a side-dish or a snack all by themselves.  Try to avoid added sugar or salt with canned or frozen veggies. (*Portions: 1 cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked.)

• artichoke hearts
• artichokes (1⁄2 medium)
• arugula
• asparagus
• bamboo shoots
• bok choy
• broccoli
• broccolini
• broccoli rabe
• Brussels sprouts
• cabbage
• cauliflower
• celery
• cucumbers
• daikon radish
• eggplant
• endive
• escarole
• fennel
• fiddlehead ferns
• grape leaves
• greens (mustard, beet, chicory, collard, etc.)
• green beans
• hearts of palm
• Italian wax beans
• jicama
• kale
• kelp
• leeks
• lettuce
• mushrooms
• okra
• onions (red, white, yellow)
• parsley, chopped
• peppers
• radicchio
• radishes
• rhubarb
• sauerkraut (1 cup canned)
• shallots (2 Tbsp raw)
• snap peas
• snow peas
• spinach
• sprouts
• squash / spaghetti squash
• Swiss chard
• tomatillos
• tomatoes
• tomato juice (1⁄2 cup)
• tomatoes, sun-dried (2 Tbsp)
• vegetable juice blends
• water chestnuts
• watercress
• wax beans
• zucchini

★ Extras:

During Phase 1 you are also allowed up to 3 “extras.” A lot of these are condiments, but can be anything that has fewer than 35 calories and 3g of carbs. Here are a few:

  • ketchup (1 Tbsp)
  • cream, whole milk, half and half (1 Tbsp)
  • salsa (2 Tbsp)
  • sour cream (1 Tbsp)

★ “Free” Foods:

Don’t feel guilty about waking up bland food. Here are some freebies to use to spice up your meals and snacks:

  • spices & seasonings (low sodium)
  • soy sauce (low sodium)
  • mustard (not honey mustard)
  • broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • herbs
  • lemon or lime juice

Beverages: Remember to drink 8 cups of water a day! You can also enjoy the following drinks: black coffee, tea (unsweetened), and seltzer.

Sample Menu:

sample menu south beach

So, what do meals actually look like during Phase 1? Here’s a sample day’s menu:

  • Breakfast: (7 am) South Beach Diet Farmhouse Garden & Cheese Omelet* + Greek yogurt
  • Morning Snack: (10am) South Beach Dark Chocolate Nut Bar*
  • Lunch: (12:30pm) South Beach Diet Beef w/ Balsamic Glaze*
  • Afternoon Snack: (4pm) Hardboiled egg and cucumber slices
  • Dinner: (7pm) South Beach Diet Mushroom-stuffed chicken breast* with a small kale salad

*South Beach Diet prepared meals / snacks. View more menu items

The variety of food increases immediately after Phase 1 ends, and you’ll have a lot more options for your meal plans!

Phase 1: Foods to Avoid

south beach foods avoid

Phase 1 is the strictest part of the South Beach Diet, but it only lasts 7 days!

So, why do they ask you to avoid certain foods? Eating too many sugary and processed carbs has thrown your metabolism and blood sugar out of balance, and the goal of Phase 1 is to fix that. You could call Phase 1 a “reboot.” By avoiding certain foods, Phase 1 helps get your body and glycemic index back on track.

In Phase 1 you should avoid:

  • refined carbohydrates (no doughnuts, white bread, or mac and cheese!)
  • Grains, fruits, and beans/legumes
  • Sugary drinks and soda (limit “diet” sodas)
  • Alcohol

Here are some popular foods not allowed during Phase 1:

  • Beef: No fatty cuts of meat like brisket, prime rib or veal!
  • Poultry: Avoid chicken wings & legs, and duck
  • Pork: No honey-baked ham!
  • Starchy vegetables like: potatoes, green peas, beets, corn, and yams
  • Fruit: Skip the fruits in Phase One. No apples, berries, peaches, pears, cantaloupe, etc.
  • Starches & Carbs: No pasta, rice, bread, cereal, oatmeal, or baked good!
  • Drinks: Avoid fruit juices, juice cocktails, sodas, and alcohol (sorry!) 

So, can you eat hummus? Yes, but not in Phase 1. (chick peas are a legume) After Phase One you can eat hummus (2 oz portion) but skip the pita bread and try it with veggies like carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, and broccoli instead.

Phase 1: Exercise

Healthy eating isn’t enough for any weight loss program, as exercise is a key component. That’s why The SouthBeach Diet asks you to be active and move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. Get that heart rate up! This “exercise” could be anything from taking a brisk walk or riding your bike, to a yoga or Zumba class, or swimming.

Tip: Walking your dog after work is a great way to detach from the stress of the day, and your brain loves routines!

Phase 1: Learn “Mindful Eating”

eating habits

Do you ever eat at your desk or while driving? That’s not good! Neither is eating too fast, as it causes you to each too much. Phase 1 encourages you to be aware of food, and slow down your eating. Put your phone away, relax and enjoy each bite.

  1. Think about the texture and flavor of what you’re eating
  2. Put your fork down between bites of food
  3. Hungry after a meal? Wait 20 minutes to eat anything else, as that’s how long it takes for your body to know it’s full!

Stress is a major reason why people eat too fast and make bad choices. During Phase 1 the goal is to eat mindfully and end your bad eating habits.


Phase One of the South Beach diet can be considered a reboot. It’s 7 days (used to be 14) of relatively strict rules to clean out the junk in your system and ending your bad eating habits. Phase 1 prepares you for healthy, structured eating that’s low in carbs and high in protein that will result in sustainable weight loss.

As you can guess, Phase 1 is followed by Phase 2, which is the long-term weight loss phase lasting until you reach your goal weight.

With the South Beach Diet your entrees are already prepared, so you’ll just add healthy snacks and side-dishes. In that sense it’s similar to Nutrisystem (reviews / cost) and Bistro MD. Want to learn more? Here’s today’s best online promotion for new customers::starting phase one south beach*View this featured promotion, or view all coupons

Not into meal-delivery? If you like to cook and would rather count points than be told  what to eat, consider Weight Watchers instead!

You can also compare South Beach to Nutrisystem here!

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November 12, 2017

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