In the South Beach vs Atkins Diet debate, the good news is that both have been shown to be highly effectively for dieters, particularly for short-term weight loss.
Both diets are restrictive in the intake of carbohydrates, but after that, they diverge: while Atkins is a strict low-carb diet, the South Beach diet plan is more about strategy as it focuses on learning to eat complex, fiber-rich carbohydrates based on food ratings found in the Glycemic Index.
Both the South Beach and the Atkins Diet plan allow you to eat protein and “good fats” during a two-week induction phase during which you will see significant weight loss. You should feel fuller and more satiated after you eat, which will help you to control your appetite for longer lengths of time.
For the induction phase, the South Beach vs Atkins Diet strategy is much the same. Foods allowed include eggs, fish, chicken, beef, and pork, as well as certain cheeses, nuts, and fats. Both diets ban these foods for two weeks:
Most dairy (except for cheese)
Grains (cereal and bread)
Below is an example of foods banned by Atkins during the induction phase but allowed on South Beach. They include:
1% and fat free milk
Legumes (beans and peas)
After the two-week period is up, the diets become less restrictive on foods in the second phase, but still want you to keep sweets and starchy bad carbs to a minimum.
Another important difference in the South Beach vs Atkins debate concerns foods high in saturated fats. Atkins allows these while the South Beach Diet discourages them, especially butter and certain oils.
While South Beach does not ask you to count daily carb grams, Atkins permits just 20 grams of carb intake per day. The Atkins diet plan wants your body to go into ketosis, where it switches from drawing on carbs to get its fuel and energy and instead uses stored fat. Ideally, the protein you eat daily is what your body will use to convert to glucose instead of taking from the protein in your muscles. That will keep you in fat-burning mode and the weight will drop off.
Since no plan fits everyone, the South Beach vs Atkins Diet controversy may best be settled by carefully reading over the permitted foods in the 2-week induction phase of each diet. Since the South Beach diet is less specific, it may be more appealing to you. However, though Atkins’s ketogenic plan is far more restrictive it is likely to achieve much more rapid weight loss results.