south beach diet phase 1

South Beach Diet Phase 1: How It Works, Food List + Sample Menu

south beach logo

Phase One of the SouthBeach Diet: The South Beach Diet is a popular 3-phase weight loss program with monthly meal delivery of their prepared low-carb, high protein, portioned foods, and it starts with Phase 1.

The goal of this first, 7-day phase “body reboot” is to reset your body for fast weight loss by breaking unhealthy cravings and bad habits.

By eating their low-carb, high-protein foods, you’ll transform your metabolism and switch from burning carbs to fat as fuel. This should encourage fast initial weight loss, and also help to prepare your body for sustained weight loss in Phase 2.

nutrisystem coupon
$30 + Extra $50 Off!
1. Cyber Week special + free shipping auto-delivery. Save even more when...Show More
1. Cyber Week special + free shipping auto-delivery. Save even more when you pay for 2-3 months. Click to get this promo code and visit Show Less

Here’s what you need to know about Phase One of the South Beach Diet:

South Beach Diet Phase 1: How it Works | Meal Plan | Food List | Sample Menu

How Phase 1 Works:

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

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

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

Normally your body burns carbs as its primary fuel source. When you’re on a lower-carb diet, like South Beach, your body turns to it’s second option, which is fat. When you burn fat, you lose weight. Simple, right?

Here’s a nifty infographic showing how cutting carbs and eating more protein helps you lose weight:

how south beach phase 1 works

Healthy food is the foundation of the South Beach Diet, so let’s look at the Phase 1 meal plan.

Phase 1 Meal Plan:

Phase 1 is the most restrictive phase of the South Beach Diet. Their specially selected menu of lower-carb foods for Phase 1 helps to reset your body and curb unhealthy cravings.

During Phase 1 you’ll avoid all: refined carbs, grains, fruits, beans and legumes, sugary drinks, and alcohol. You’ll also limit dairy and diet soda.

South Beach Diet® provides you most of your food for Phase 1 including 5 days of meals, plus bars and shakes. However, you’ll also need to add 2 days of DIY meals of your own healthy choices from their recipes or the Phase 1 food list below. So, what do you eat during Phase One?

Each day during Phase 1 you’ll eat:

  • Women: 3 lean proteins, 2 healthy fats, 5 non-starchy vegetables
  • Men: 3 lean proteins, 3 healthy fats, 5 non-starchy vegetables

Need to make a grocery list? The foods approved for Phase 1 are listed below:

nutrisystem 50 off food promo
*Nutrisystem better? View today’s featured promotion or all coupons here!

Phase 1 Food List:

south beach food list meats

As mentioned, you’ll need to buy some healthy groceries in Phase 1 to supplement their prepared meals.

Here is our printable South Beach Diet Phase 1 food list; very handy at the grocery store! (View as Printable PDF)

south beach diet phase 1 food list printable
south beach diet phase 1 food list vegetables printable
(One serving is 3 oz. unless otherwise noted)

Proteins are central to the South Beach 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:
• flank steak
• ground beef: 93% lean
• ground sirloin
• London broil
• pastrami: 98% lean
• sirloin steak
• T-bone

• skinless chicken breast
• ground chicken breast
• ground turkey breast
• turkey bacon (4 slices)
• turkey pastrami: lean (2 slices)
• turkey sausage: low-fat

• fish: all types
• sashimi
• shellfish: all types
• canned fish: tuna, salmon (packed in water)

(1 oz or about ¼ cup,
unless otherwise noted)

• blue cheese
• Cheddar
• cottage cheese: 4% fat, ½ cup
• farmer cheese
• feta
• goat cheese (chèvre)
• mozzarella
• Parmesan
• provolone
• queso fresco
• ricotta: full-fat, ½ cup
• soy cheese
• spreadable cheese (avoid canned cheese)
• string cheese: 1 piece
• Swiss cheese
• boiled ham
• Canadian bacon
• loin, chop or roast
• smoked ham, natural uncured
• tenderloin

Limit to no more than
once per week; remove
all visible fat.
• center cut
• chop
• loin, chop or roast

(2 oz, natural, lower-sodium, nitrate-free)
• chicken breast: regular, smoked or peppered
• ham: boiled, natural, uncured, smoked (avoid
sugar-cured, maple-cured, and honey-baked)

• roast beef: lean
• turkey breast: regular, smoked or peppered

• egg whites: 3 large
• whole egg: 1 large

(1 cup, unless otherwise
noted; limit to 2 servings per day as part of daily protein)

• buttermilk
• Greek yogurt: full-fat, plain, 5.3 oz
• kefir: plain
• milk: whole
• soy milk: unsweetened
Tip: *So, how big of a portion 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.

(One serving is 3 oz. unless otherwise noted)

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. or 3 Tbsp, limit to 1 serving per day unless otherwise noted)
(1 oz or about ¼ cup for nuts; 1 oz or about 3 Tbsp for seeds, unless otherwise noted)
• cashews: 16–18
• chia seeds: 2 Tbsp
• coconut: unsweetened, ¼ cup
• coconut milk: unsweetened, ¼ cup
• flaxseeds: ground or whole
• hazelnuts or filberts: 20
• macadamia nuts: 10–12
• peanuts: dry-roasted or boiled, 28
• pecans: 10 whole
• pine nuts
• pistachios: 48
• pumpkin seeds
• sesame seeds
• soy nuts, dry-roasted
• sunflower seeds
• walnuts, 14 halves

• almond butter
• cashew butter
• peanut butter: natural
(Choose full-fat, oil-based over creamy; all dressings should contain no more than 3 grams of sugar per 2 Tbsp.)
• Italian: regular
• vinaigrette: (balsamic) regular

• avocado
• canola oil
• coconut: extra-virgin
• corn oil
• flaxseed oil
• grapeseed oil
• olive oil: extra-virgin
• peanut oil
• safflower oil
• sesame oil
• soybean oil
• sunflower oil
• walnut oil

• avocado: ½ fruit
• Benecol spread or other plant stanol-based margarines, 2 Tbsp
• guacamole: ¼ cup
• mayonnaise: olive oil–based, 1 Tbsp
• olives: black or green, 15–20
*It can be hard to measure nuts, seeds, and butters, so use a measuring spoon or cup if possible!

(*Frozen or canned w/o added sugar or salt. Portions: 1 cup raw, or 1/2 cup cooked .)

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.
• artichoke hearts
• artichokes: ½ medium
• arugula
• asparagus
• bamboo shoots: canned
• bok choy
• broccoli
• broccolini
• broccoli rabe
• Brussels sprouts
• cabbage: green, Napa, red, or Savoy
• cauliflower
• celeriac root: ½ cup raw*
• celery
• chayote
• cucumbers
• daikon radish
• eggplant
• endive
• escarole
• fennel
• fiddlehead ferns
• grape leaves
• greens: (mustard, beet, chicory, collard, turnip or dandelion)
• green beans
• hearts of palm
• Italian wax beans
• jicama
• kale
• leeks*
• lettuce (all varieties)
• mushrooms (all varieties)
• okra
• onions: (red, white, yellow)*
• parsley: chopped
• peppers: (all varieties)
• radicchio
• radishes
• rhubarb
• sauerkraut, 1 cup canned
• sea vegetables: raw (kelp)*
• sea vegetables: dried (nori, spirulina), 2 Tbsp
• shallots: 2 Tbsp raw
• snap peas
• snow peas
• spinach
• sprouts (alfalfa, bean, broccoli,
lentil, radish or sunflower)

• spaghetti squash
• squash, yellow
• Swiss chard
• tomatillos
• tomatoes: fresh
• tomatoes: (canned or jarred) < 3 grams of sugar per serving and no added sugars, ½ cup
• tomato juice:, ½ cup
• tomatoes, sun-dried: 2 Tbsp
• vegetable juice blends: ½ cup
• water chestnuts: ½ cup canned
• watercress
• wax beans
• zucchini
*Denotes vegetables that are higher in carbs. Limit these foods to one serving in Phase 1

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

Don’t feel guilty about waking up bland food. Here are some freebies to use to spice up your Phase 1 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

Remember to drink at least 64 oz. (8 cups) of water a day in all phases of the South Beach Diet!

You can also enjoy the following drinks:
• black coffee
• tea (unsweetened)
• seltzer.

*Be sure to limit diet soda and other zero-calorie beverages made with artificial sweeteners!

*Source: South Beach Diet Handbook

• Foods to Avoid in Phase 1:

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 “body reboot.” By avoiding certain foods, Phase 1 helps get your body and glycemic index back on track.

In Phase 1 you should avoid these foods:

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

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 1. 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 limit diet drinks

Tip: So, can you eat hummus? You can not eat hummus in Phase 1, as chick peas are a legume. After Phase 1 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 Sample Menu:

So, what do meals actually look like? Here’s a sample South Beach Diet Phase 1 menu including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks:

south beach diet phase 1 sample menu
  • Breakfast: (7 am) South Beach Diet® Farmhouse Garden & Cheese Omelet + Greek yogurt
  • Morning Snack: (10am) South Beach Diet® Dark Chocolate Nut Bar
  • Lunch: (12:30pm) South Beach Diet® Mushroom Parmesan Soup w/ Chicken
  • Afternoon Snack: (4pm) Hardboiled egg and cucumber slices
  • Dinner: (7pm) South Beach Diet® Broccoli and Cheese-stuffed chicken breast with a small kale salad

*You’ll also drink at least 64 oz. of water per day. View more menu items

Tip: The variety of food increases after the week-long Phase 1 ends, and then you’ll have a lot more menu options for your meal plans!

• Phase 1 Exercise:

fit woman doing plank

Do you have to exercise during Phase 1? Yes. 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 at the same time every day is a great way to get exercise and reduce stress. Plus, your brain loves routines!

Tip: Learn “Mindful Eating”

Do you ever eat at your desk or while driving? Yikes, 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 1 Weight Loss Results?

During Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, the company claims that you can lose up to 7 pounds in 7 days during Phase 1.

In an independent study, the average weight loss result during the 7 days of Phase 1 was 5.8 pounds, which is pretty consistent with South Beach Diet’s claims.

After Phase 1, you can expect to lose a sustainable 1-2 pounds per week until you reach your weight loss goal.

Tip: Users are encouraged to always eat everything in their monthly deliveries, as skipping meals does not help with sustainable weight loss.

*Related: How Much Does the South Beach Diet Cost Per Month?


Phase 1 of the South Beach diet can be considered a body reboot. It’s 7 days (which used to be 14) of relatively strict rules to clean out the junk in your system and ending your bad eating habits.

It’s a way of letting your body know that, “the times, they are a changing” and the days of unhealthy eating and carb cravings are over. Instead, you’ll be eating foods lower in carbs, and high in protein and fiber to encourage weight loss and better health.

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.

Want to learn more? Here’s today’s best online promotion for new customers:

nutrisystem 50 off food promo
*Nutrisystem better? View today’s featured promotion or all coupons here!

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! Or, view the WW food list with points here.