Originally Posted by Judynyc
This was written by Its The Wooo from another thread. Its a brilliant explanation of the difference between the 2 plans!!
Atkins goal is not ketosis, in fact he explicitly says not to get too wrapped up in the strips and to focus more on changes in well being and appearance. Atkins need not even be ketogenic, the induction phase is optional.
The goals of both Atkins and South Beach is to control blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby preventing undesirable consequences of not doing so such as many diseases and obesity.
Atkins and South Beach differ only in their respective approaches to achieving this goal. Atkins believes heart disease and sicknesses of all kinds are overwhelmingly or exclusively caused by uncontrolled blood sugar and high insulin levels. He believes that fat is not part of the problem, and fat only causes a problem if blood sugar and insulin are out of control. He feels there's nothing wrong with any natural fat, the only fat you need to worry about are damaged processed fats (for example, rancid grease that has been repeatedly fried, hydrogenated veggie oils, etc). Atkins also believes that the best way to achieve this goal of controlling blood sugar is to reduce total carbohydrate quantity, focusing on the very low impact carbs like veggies berries and dairy.
South Beach's creator Dr Agatson, like Atkins, believes blood sugar and high insulin cause diseases and obesity. Agatson, unlike Atkins, subscribes to the lipid hypothesis and feels some natural fats are "good" and some are "bad". Like atkins he feels processed fats are bad, however he also feels too much saturated fat is a risk factor for disease and it is not encouraged. Adherents are asked to choose oils and margerines over saturated fat, this restriction does not exist on Atkins' plan.
The main way Agatson and Atkins differ is their approach to controlling blood sugar and insulin. Agatson's plan is low glycemic index, not low carb. You don't count carbs on SB. Agatson feels total carbohydrate quantity is not as important as eating "low impact carbs" - carbs that are low on the glycemic index which is a measure of how quickly a food causes blood sugar to rise. Total carbohydrate quantity is not restricted, just types of carbs. Both Atkins and Agatson stress structuring proper meals with adequate protein and fat, although Agatson's plan stresses protein over fat. It is necessary Agatson's plan be lower fat and stress low fat foods, due to the fact it includes more energy from carbohydrate (otherwise people would fail to lose weight if they ate generously from fat and carbs)... although it should be mentioned SB is not a low fat diet in the objective sense (fat is not explicitly reduced as a goal).
Mainly the difference is that SB is a low glycemic index plan. It focuses on WHAT you eat, not how much of what you're eating. Atkins is low carb before it is low glycemic index, although it should be mentioned a low carb plan is by default low GI too (it will in fact be much lower GL, since carb quantity in diet is the biggest factor which determines how much sugar is used by the body, not how "complex" the carbs you do eat are).
Each plan has respective advantages and disadvantages.
Those who are more extremely carbohydrate sensitive will find greater success with Atkins. It is the most effective popular plan for controlling insulin and blood sugar levels. If your weight and health issues are stemming from carbohydrate sensitivity almost exclusively, I would recommend this plan in a heart beat.
I also would recommend Atkins if you are a meat-craver, a protein & fat lover, and if you never were too fond of sugars or starches and really liked the meat and fat. Atkins is also an ideal plan for those who don't like details, who want things straightforward and simple, who don't mind a limited diet of a few staple foods. Atkins is popular among men for these two reasons, whereas women tend to have more problems with the diet because women tend to both crave sugar & carbs as well as prefer a more liberalized diet with more choices. I'm a lucky exception, I am a meat lover myself .
Anyway, if this is you, odds are you won't feel restricted or deprived on it and won't have any problems adapting to substitutes. You'll have good success.
The downside of Atkins is that it's very restricted and limited. Those who crave freedom in choices and variety don't do well on this plan. Those who are sweet and carb eaters might fail to stay on for long and usually switch to a more liberal plan.
On the other hand, if you have more moderate carbohydrate sensitivity, I would suggest the more liberal South Beach. Odds are it's low GI approach will be enough to resolve your problems with unstable blood sugar, without unnecessarily restricting you to a staple of fat and very few carbs until maintainance, like Atkins would. If your weight gain stems mostly from bad habits and unstructured eating unrelated to carbohydrate sensitivity, again SB will be better for you. Atkins advice to "eat liberally" from founts of cream steak and butter isn't good advice for someone who is an emotional eater, as the appetite rectifying effect of the diet is not as pronounced for someone without carbohydrate sensitivity. SB's focus on structuring proper meals and learning how to make good choices is far better for someone who has a weight problem primarily because of eating poorly and having bad habits.
Finally, I would suggest south beach if you are a primary sweet/carb craver as SBD teaches you how to have these foods without destroying blood sugar as badly.
The downside of SB is that it's liberal approach isn't well tolerated by everyone. Those who are very carb sensitive, or those who tend to just crave more of what they DO eat by nature aren't likely to succeed with this plan. The more structured and limited Atkins would be more effective.