Decoding Your Containers: What Do the Colors Mean & How Do They Work

Article posted in: South Beach Simple

South Beach Simple™ makes following the principles of the South Beach Diet® book, well, simple —All thanks to a couple of essentials that are designed to make your life easier. Along with a tasty, filling South Beach Diet® bar and South Beach Complete™ shake, each day you’ll round out the rest of your menu with two meals and two snacks using the portion-perfect containers that are exclusive to the South Beach Simple plan! Keep reading to learn how these containers make it so much easier to follow the South Beach lifestyle.

If you’re just getting started, see our Phase 1 Explained to get started! >

We just can’t “contain” ourselves any longer—so let’s dive right in to find out exactly how the containers work, which foods you can fill them up with, and how many you need each day.


colored containers


Your pink containers are for Lean Proteins, like lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken and turkey breast, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk and plant-based proteins like tofu, soy burgers and soy milk. Here are some top pick grocery ideas for your pink containers:


Healthy Fats go in your gray container. Some options are nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, avocado, olives, oils like extra-virgin olive and canola, olive-oil-based mayonnaise and oil-based salad dressings. Here are some top pick grocery ideas for your gray container:

gray container


Fill the coral containers with Good Carbs. In Phase 1, this means beans and legumes only, but stick to fresh, dried, frozen or canned with no added sugar or salt. Hummus, black beans, lentils, edamame and chickpeas are some popular choices.

In Phase 2, as your menu expands, you’ll also use the coral containers for 100 percent whole grains. Look for foods with three or more grams of fiber per serving. Quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta are all great for Phase 2. Here are some top pick grocery ideas for your coral containers:

coral container


The turquoise containers are for your veggies. In Phase 1, you’ll pick only non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, greens, cucumber, zucchini, green beans, broccoli and tomatoes—just to name a few!
In Phase 2, you’ll use the turquoise containers for starchy vegetables as well. Green peas, carrots, corn, winter squash and yams all fall into this category. Since starchy veggies are higher in carbs, we recommend you limit them to one or two a day—you’ll get the rest of your veggie servings via the non-starchy variety. Here are some top pick grocery ideas for your turquoise containers:

turquoise container


Reach for your teal containers in Phase 2 to fill them with fruit. Fresh or frozen fruits with no added sugar are best. Berries, cantaloupe, apples, bananas, pineapple and oranges are just a few options you can pick from. Dried fruit with no sugar added is okay, too. But since it’s more concentrated than fresh, follow the serving sizes for these in your program guide. Here are some top pick grocery ideas for your teal containers:
teal container


The larger turquoise container is your mixing bowl. This comes in handy for packing up a salad or bowl-style meal to take on-the-go!

For the full grocery guide for each container, click here! >


Your container amounts will vary from phase to phase, as will the amounts for women and men. This will ensure you’re getting the right nutrients in the right amounts to optimize your results in each phase of the plan.

Follow the charts below to see how many containers to add to your meal plan in each phase, in addition to your daily South Beach Diet bar and shake:

Phase 1


Phase 2


Phase 3

Need to figure out how many calories you should be consuming in Phase 3? Click here! >



So, how does this all look in a day? Glad you asked! Check out our recommended meal plans below to see how to split up your containers for the most balanced meals. However, you can feel free to mix and match containers throughout the day to meet your needs.


Phase 1 containers


Phase 2 containers


Phase 3 containers



  • Try labeling the containers if you have trouble telling them apart. The turquoise containers for your veggies also match your mixing bowl; so that’s a great place to start if you need a visual cue!
  • Some foods don’t fit easily into the containers, and others are more calorically-dense, like nut butters, oils and dried fruit. Check your program guide to get the guidelines for these foods.
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables in your turquoise container are unlimited. Feel free to munch on more than the suggested five servings a day if you’re feeling hungry.
  • If you have a busy day ahead, just fill up your containers ahead of time for the day, and you’re good to go. Easy peasy!
  • Have a little free time? Use your containers to measure out the ingredients for a recipe you want to try (helpful hint: check out all the great recipes right here on The Palm! >).

Check out a complete overview of South Beach Simple here! >