Comparing Atkins & South Beach Diets

Among all low carb diets, the South Beach and Atkins diets are fairly popular. Here are some similarities and differences in how Agatston and Atkins designed their weight loss diets.


1. Plans: Both diets put emphasis on that their individual diets are lifetime plan for healthy nutrition and disease prevention. Losing weight is roughly an afterthought but both claim you’ll lose plenty.

2. Structure: The structure of both diets (South Beach and Atkins) is nearly the same. Both of these start with a restrictive phase which lasts for about two weeks.

  • In first week both have recommended a restricted carbohydrate diet (No breads, pastas, rice, alcohol, sugar, etc.) that is virtually indistinguishable.
  • In the second week, they both slowly add carbohydrate (such as fruits and whole grains) to get the optimal level for each person. Once the desired weight is reached, they go to a maintenance phase.

3. Best part in the diets is that both are structured to help one find the level of carbohydrate that works for him.

4. Both Atkins and South Beach make a distinction among various carbohydrate sources. Both have advised not to eat refined carbs (such as sugars, white flour, etc).

5. Both say to avoid Trans fats completely.


1. Both the diets differ the way carbohydrates are accounted.

  • In South Beach, sources of carbohydrate are accounted for by the size and number of portions.
  • In Atkins, every gram eaten is accounted in the daily carbohydrate intake. It requires counting all digestible carbohydrates; generally this means carbohydrates that are not fiber.

2. Fats: The major difference between the two diet plans is the advice concerning fat in the diet.

  • In South Beach, emphasis is put on reducing the intake of saturated fats, i.e., butter or the dark meat of poultry. Agatston also emphasized on getting adequate Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • In Atkins, eating a variety of fats is recommended. Omega 3s and 6s are advised to be balanced, which means that many oils that are primarily Omega-6, such as corn oil, should be avoided. Saturated fats, such as butter or dark meat, are allowed in greater amounts than South Beach.

There is no doubt that there are differences in the details, but both are trying to teach dieters to decrease the consumption of carbohydrates in junky processed foods and refined sugars. The diets can agree that building a diet around healthy proteins, lots of vegetables, tons of fiber, good fats and some fruits and nuts is the best you can do.

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