South Beach Diet vs Atkins Diet

South Beach Diet vs Atkins Diet

In the 1970s Dr. Atkins spurred a diet revolution with his low-carb approach to eating, and loyal followers have been demonizing bread and sugar ever since. In recent years the South Beach Diet has given Atkins a run for its low-carb money, touting that it’s bad carbs—not all carbs—that prevent people from achieving their ideal physique. While both diets declare you’ll lose pounds aplenty, there are several fundamental differences to consider before taking sides.

South Beach vs. Atkins: Phases

South Beach and Atkins both start off with a stringent two-week induction phase where carbs are restricted. You’ll bid adios to pasta, bread, rice, sugar, and even alcohol as you chow down on fish, protein, and select non-starchy vegetables. After the introductory phase healthy carbs like whole grains and fruits are slowly reintroduced, and dieters remain on this phase until their goal weight is achieved. The third phase, or the permanent phase, is designed to help followers keep the pounds off by practicing a more lenient version of the program as a way of life.

South Beach vs. Atkins: Structure

One of the biggest differences between the two diets is their structure. Atkins is highly regimented, requiring dieters to keep track of every carb they consume. Food options are more restricted on Atkins, which may be a danger to food lovers that get bored easily. In contrast, on South Beach dieters are urged to experiment with an array of food in order to find the low-carb options that appeal most to them. Desserts are allowed on South Beach, and for the sweet tooth set, this gracious allowance helps dieters stick to the program and stay motivated.

South Beach vs. Atkins: Health

Health-wise, you’ll find another distinction between the two diets. Both programs rely on recipes that contain animal and other fats, but South Beach stresses lean cuts of meat. Many physicians have voiced concern over the high level of saturated fats consumed by Atkins dieters. Bacon cheeseburgers (sans bun) and ham and cheddar cheese omelets may make carnivores feel like they’ve won the diet lottery, but an Atkins follower that decides to use the protein mantra as an excuse to binge on high-fat foods isn’t going to get a thumbs-up from their doctor at their yearly checkup.

South Beach takes a stronger emphasis on healthy fats—nuts, avocados, and heart-healthy olive oil. If you’ve got envious cholesterol levels and no history of heart disease, the rich foods allowed on Atkins can help you stick to your diet without feeling deprived. But if overall health is your chief concern, South Beach can help you achieve nutritional balance.

How Fast Can I Lose Weight on South Beach or Atkins?

If your interest in a low-carb diet stems purely from vanity, then you’re most burning question is likely: Which diet can help me drop more pounds? Both diets claim you’ll experience a particularly notable amount of weight loss in the first two-week period. South Beach says you’ll lose a staggering 8 to 13 pounds during the first phase, while Atkins claims you can expect to drop up to 15 pounds in the first 14 days.

But before your enthusiasm skyrockets be warned: On both diets experts point out that much of lost weight is water weight. Over time your tissues will rehydrate and the massive weight loss dieters initially experience on these programs will become more modest. But this is no reason to become disheartened. If you’re consuming fewer calories and making an effort to stay active, either diet will help you continue to shed pounds.

Cooking For Your Family on Atkins or South Beach

If you enjoy cooking meals for your family and don’t plan on making separate dishes for yourself and your clan, keep in mind that Atkins isn’t a family-friendly diet. Depending on your protein selections, the saturated fat can be very high, and there aren’t enough fruits and veggies to compliment a child’s physical development. But chances are good that your husband would adore Atkins, so if you’re part of a couple looking to lose weight together, the meat-centered Atkins plan can get your man onboard.

The South Beach Diet takes a broader approach to nutrition, and its meals are a great choice for moms looking to improve their family’s eating habits. South Beach can be more cooking intensive than Atkins, so keep this in mind before embarking on the diet. Most South Beach recipes contain no fewer than eight ingredients, which can be time-consuming or costly if you don’t plan your shopping wisely.

Bottom Line

The burgers, cheese, and other traditionally taboo foods permitted on the Atkins diet can be a godsend to people that would rather die than munch on salads. The quick weight loss that occurs in the induction phase can be motivating as well.

If you like a diet with firm rules and don’t mind counting carbs, consider Atkins your new best friend. If you love cooking and want a broader assortment of foods to choose from when mealtime hits, South Beach is your best bet. The balanced nutrition is perfect for families and great for overall health. Whatever diet you choose, remember that following the program’s specific guidelines is key for weight loss. Happy low-carbing!


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