Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: December 27, 2023

south beach diet handbook cover for phases 1, 2 and 3

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Looking for the full details about South Beach Diet Phase 1, 2 and 3?

Well, let’s start with this…

The South Beach Diet has become one of the most popular weight loss programs in the world, since Dr. Arthur Agatston introduced it back in the 1990s [1].

It’s popular, because it can be a highly effective weight loss option for a lot of people. It works through a low-carb diet plan, that relies on eliminating most sugars, and simple carbohydrates.

The diet rolls out in three key phases. In this article, we’ll take a look at each of the South Beach Diet phases in great detail, to give you a clearer picture about how the diet works, and what you can expect as you work your way towards your weight loss goals.

South Beach Diet Phase 1 [PDF Included]

Phase 1 consists of the first two weeks of the diet. During this time, most people following the diet can expect to see the largest amount of weight loss, during the shortest amount of time.

While results will be different from person to person, South Beach Diet is currently advertising that customers may be able to lose up to 7 pounds during Phase 1.

What makes this possible?

It’s because Phase 1 is the strictest part of the diet. You will eliminate most carbs, all sugars, and no alcohol should be consumed during these first two weeks.

They say this helps to put your body in “reset” mode, and it should prepare you for steady weight loss during Phase 2 of the diet.

What You Can Eat During Phase 1

When following the first phase of South Beach Diet, you’ll:

  • Eat 6 Times Every Day
  • Women: Three Lean Proteins, Two Healthy Fats, Five Non Starchy Vegetables per Day
  • Men: Four Lean Proteins, Two Healthy Fats, Five Non Starch Vegetables per Day
  • Drink: At Least 8 Cups of Water per Day

Foods You Can’t Eat

During phase 1, you will have to avoid all starchy food and carbs. This includes things like pasta, cereal, rice, bread, pastries, etc. You’ll even have to avoid starch vegetables, such as beets, corn, carrots, and potatoes.

When it comes to beverages, anything that is sweetened or has sugar is off-limits. This includes juices, soda, and alcohol of any kind.

For a full list of foods that you can and can eat during Phase 1 of South Beach Diet, including a PDF version for all three phases, visit their website. 

Phase 1 Exercise Requirements

Before starting a diet and exercise plan, you should talk with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough for it. This includes South Beach Diet.  Assuming you get the all-clear, South Beach Diet recommends getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day during the first phase.

Here’s a short list of example activities you can participate in:

  • Yoga
  • Biking
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming

When it comes to your physical activity, you can basically do whatever you’re comfortable with and enjoy. Remember, even a walk counts, so consider going for one after dinner, or come up with something else that fits your needs and schedule.

The key takeaway here is to keep it fun, and make it something that you enjoy. Exercising doesn’t have to be something you tread, as long as you’re picking something that fits your lifestyle.

RELATED: South Beach Diet Reviews & Cost

Phase 2

Phase 2 of South Beach Diet officially kicks off once you’ve reached day 15 of the program. During this phase you’ll start to introduce some the foods that were eliminated during Phase 1, and will being to set the stage for “steady weight loss.”

While Phase 1 has a clear beginning and date – it lasts 14 days – you will be in Phase 2 of South Beach Diet until you’ve reach your weight loss goal.

While you’ll begin to eat some carbs again, the goal is still to keep them in moderation, so you can continue to lose weight.

Here’s a quick look at what to expect during Phase 2 of South Beach Diet.

What You Can Eat During Phase 2

The rules for how often you’ll eat per day remain the same per day – that’s 6 small meals and snacks. The big change here is the type of foods that you can eat.

You’ll still be following a low carb meal plan, but it’s not as strict as Phase 1.

This means you get to eat the following foods in moderation:

  • Starchy Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Lein Proteins
  • “Good” Carbohydrates: Whole grains, quinoa, pasta made from wheat, etc.

Foods to Avoid

During Phase 2 you’ll want to avoid refined carbohydrates, white rice, potatoes, beets, corn, sweets, etc.

For a full list of what you can and can’t eat during Phase 2, visit the South Beach Diet website.

What Can You Drink?

During Phase 2 you’ll want to continue to avoid sugary sodas and juices. Alcohol can be consumed for those who are least 21 years of age, but it has to be done in moderation. This means an occasional glass of wine with dinner. Emphasis on “a” glass.


Continue shooting for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day during Phase 2 of South Beach Diet. You can increase the intensity if you’re up for it, just remember to keep enjoyable, so it’s something you actually look forward to. This gives a better chance at making it a permanent part of your daily routine, and will help you maintain a healthier lifestyle once you’ve completed the South Beach Diet.

Phase 3

When you’ve reached Phase 3 of South Beach Diet, you have accomplished your goals. That means should have reached your goal weight, and are felling slimmer, healthier, and ready to maintain a healthier lifestyle moving forward.

When it comes to foods that you can and can’t eat, nothing is off-limits. That doesn’t mean you want to immediately jump back in to your old bad habits, however.

If you hope to keep the weight off, you’ll want to continue with a healthy eating plan moving forward. Like pasta? That’s fine, but enjoy it in moderation. That’s going to be key to maintaining your weight loss.

If you ever slip, or start to see the weight creeping back up, then you can jump back into Phase 2 of the diet to get things back on track, or even do a quick reset and follow Phase 1 again.


South Beach Diet rolls out in three main phases. Each one brings a new set of foods that you can and can’t eat, but when used together, they all work to help accomplish one key goal: Helping you achieve a healthy weight, and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

If you take the principles to heart, then you have a good chance and learning the steps necessary to maintaining a healthy weight for life.

Results will be different for everyone who follows the South Beach Diet, but it can be a great option for those who prefer a low-carb weight loss plan.

*South Beach Diet is no longer offering a diet delivery program – If that’s what you’re looking for, we recommend Nutrisystem:

Cited Sources

  1. Franziska Spritzler, South Beach Diet Review and Beginner’s Guide, Healthline. Found here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/south-beach-diet
  2. South Beach Diet, U.S. News & World Report. Found here: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/south-beach-diet
  3. Find the Full PDF Here: https://www.southbeachdiet.com/pdf/sbd/SB-HANDBOOK.pdf