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More Training Info > South Beach 2-Week Induction

South Beach 2-Week Induction: A Coach�s Personal Experience
C.W. Schurman July 2007

It seems like everyone is looking for the �right diet� for weight loss. What most people forget is that when you lose weight, some of what comes off is lean muscle mass, which we want to preserve at all costs as it is the active tissue that helps us do everything with more ease. Since I have recommended the South Beach diet to clients in the past (see www.bodyresults.com/E2LowCarbDiets.asp for an earlier review and additional information on other low-carbohydrate diets), with generally good results, but had never actually tried it myself, I decided to go on the two-week induction plan myself to see whether its claims are valid. This article shares my own personal experience on the two-week induction phase of the South Beach Diet.

The Diet, Abbreviated

The South Beach 2-week induction simply makes sense: get the bulk of your carbohydrates from vegetables, eliminate all sugary and simple-carb-foods--including fruits and yogurt, milk products (except cheese), anything with white flour or white sugar, baked goods, breads, pastas, rice--for two weeks in order to reset your body�s ability to process and use carbs more efficiently. The program allows for unlimited vegetables of all kinds, spices, lean proteins, low-fat cheeses (cottage, mozzarella and cheddar were my staples), and nuts. You are encouraged to eat however much you need (up to 6 times a day) in order to remain satisfied. After you have completed the 2-week phase, the diet has you re-introduce complex carbohydrates including milk, yogurt, certain fruits, and whole grain complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, wild or brown rice, etc. I combined these principles with a similar program from Dr. John Berardi, called Gourmet Nutrition, and selected recipes from both that would follow the South Beach philosophy. The most tasty recipes I included were Tuna Burgers, Salmon Burgers, Coconut Chicken, Apple Chicken Casserole, Turkey Sausage Casserole, Mediterranean Salad, Chicken with Chick Peas, and Kung Pao Chicken.

My Reasons for Trying the Diet

�But you don�t need to lose any weight!� is what I was told time and again when I told people I was experimenting with the South Beach 2-week Induction program. My reasons for trying the plan were several: a) to branch out and find healthier recipes for my family, foods that would leave us feeling satisfied longer and that would give us the macronutrients we need from foods rather than multi-vitamins; b) to help me break my addiction to simple carbohydrates and give me better options for quick snacks on-the-go for me and my daughter; c) to see first hand how effective the diet can be (I�m a �been there, done that� sort of scientist and like to test everything out before I endorse it); and d) to lose a little excess fat before my climb of Rainier so I�d have that much less to lug up the mountain.

What Happened on the Diet?

I�d like to repeat from my earlier low-carb diet review that �anyone participating in any sort of outdoor sport or activity requiring sustained energy for longer than 45 minutes at a single stint will likely find that a low-carbohydrate diet simply does not give them the energy needed to perform at optimal levels.� Wow, is that comment ever right on! The first day was perhaps the easiest. I still had plenty of muscle glycogen. By day 4, I could tell that despite lots of stress from my dual jobs as full-time mom and �-time business owner/author/personal trainer, my blood sugar levels were more even, I didn�t get as frenzied or panicked as I did before the Induction, and I actually felt like I had more energy for day-to-day activity. However, I definitely noticed a drop in energy for my hour-long or longer workouts. I felt like I was sleeping better at night. I didn�t crash around 2 p.m. But I felt like I was eating constantly and my workouts were not going as well as I would have expected.

The real eye-opener for endurance exercise performance came on the day I tried a 6 mile, 4000� elevation gain hike on Mailbox, day 8 of the 2-week program. (For the trip report see www.bodyresults.com/a2mailbox.asp ) I found I only had one speed: trudge. I don�t remember the last time a hike felt so hard, and since I�d done Tiger twice back-to-back (10 miles/4000� gain) only a few weeks earlier, I knew it couldn�t be my conditioning as it was right where it should be getting ready for a climb of Rainier. The only thing missing? Carbohydrates.

But I stuck to the plan and after Day 14, I started introducing carbohydrates back into my diet: fruit first (wow, strawberries NEVER tasted that great!), sweet potatoes next, and various whole grain breads and cereals such as Fruit and Fiber and Grape Nuts. I was shocked to see that I had lost 5-7 pounds, far faster than I thought possible (and frankly faster than it should have.) I clearly was not eating enough calories but it is hard to get enough on vegetables, tuna, cheese, nuts and chicken! I ended up getting sick; perhaps my immune system was impaired somewhat from the lowered caloric intake, or maybe I just caught something from my daughter. In any case, muscle definition increased everywhere--and here it varies from person to person, but I noticed it first in the abdominals, then the face, shoulders/arms, and finally the thighs. The diet proclaims to help you �lose belly fat first� and it really DOES do that. It claims that it will help you even out your blood sugar and it definitely DOES do that.

What about After the Diet?

Here is where the diet got a little trickier. Technically, after two weeks on Induction, you can start to re-introduce carbohydrates to see how your body reacts. I found I had gastro-intestinal issues as soon as I started having fruits or breads; I even tried a few cookies since they�d fueled me so well for so many years. Nothing was making a difference. At Day 17 I was getting desperate as I had a climb of Mt. Rainier planned three days later and I was desperate for healthy fuel I could take with me on the trip without becoming gassy or having diarrhea on the mountain. Maybe it takes a while for the body to re-learn how to process carbohydrates. Perhaps I did not allow for enough time. But I was tremendously relieved to find that my �carbohydrate loading� supper of choice, Phad Thai, seemed to do the trick. The morning we left for the climb I was no longer having problems, my body was using the carbohydrates as it should, and I had unbelievable energy for the climb.

What next?

Since I had too many variables going on as I started the re-introduction phase, I honestly have no good answer for which carbs my body views as �toxic,�, since I pretty much threw them all back in as quickly as I could. Would I recommend the diet to others pursuing similar goals (endurance activities) as mine? With caution � it definitely works, but it is NOT a diet to do during race or climbing season, as it simply does not provide enough fuel for endurance. However, early or off-season, it would probably be a fantastic way to shed a few pounds and help rid you of cravings for simple carbohydrates. While I definitely encountered a few problems (not enough re-introduction time, too severe restriction of caloric intake leading to illness, gastro-intestinal issues) I think most of them came from my own choice of timing of when to try the diet! This time I�ll do a week of induction and then more gradually introduce carbs and see what happens in Trial II.


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