The Structural Differences of Atkins and South Beach Diets

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The Structural Differences of Atkins and South Beach Diets

The Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet are both regimens that promote weight loss by increasing the intake of proteins while reducing the consumption of carbohydrates. While often grouped together under the “low-carb fad diet” label, these two diets are comparable in design, but contrasting in detail, in particular during phase one.

At first glance, these diets appear to be structured alike. Both diets begin with an induction phase that lasts for at least two weeks in which every meal consists of protein rich foods (such as eggs for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch, and steak for dinner), a lot of vegetables and salads, and very few carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are one source of energy for the body typically found in starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes or sweet foods like fruit. Neither diet allows fruit or the starchy carbohydrates in the first phase, but carbohydrates are consumed in small quantities mainly from the vegetables. Both diets also agree that caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are not permitted. Sugars are also excluded in this phase of the diets. Sugars and carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels by breaking down very quickly. By promoting low consumption of carbohydrates and sugars, these diets assert they will correct one’s metabolism (which has been damaged by unhealthy processed foods) so that the body will once again burn fat and activate weight loss.

There is a key difference in phase one despite the fact that the overall plan is laid out the same. Each book (Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution written by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. and The South Beach Diet written by Arthur Agatston, M.D.) includes a list of acceptable foods that can be enjoyed during phase one. The approved list of vegetables is just about the same (some vegetables are excluded if they are too high in carbohydrates) for both. Similarly, spices, herbs, eggs, and seafood have little to no difference between the diets. When it comes to the recommendation for meats and cheeses, however, there is a significant difference. The Atkins diet allows all fowl and meat which includes lean meats and fatty meats. The fatty meats are high in saturated fats, which by many are believed to be unhealthy. Saturated fats make the body produce extra cholesterol and in excess are related to an increase in cardiovascular disease. For example, the Atkins list includes chicken, turkey, beef, bacon, venison, goose, and duck. It notes that removal of the skin and fat from meat or fowl is unnecessary. In fact, it states that “trying to do a low-fat version of Atkins will interfere with fat burning” (p.127). The cheese list requires eating full-fat cheeses which includes cheddar, Gouda, blue cheeses, mozzarella, and swiss. Atkins explains that while major health...

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