South Beach Diet or Keto: Which is better? No doubt you’ve heard of the ketogenic diet, aka, “keto.” It’s all the rage right now, as this low-carb diet is helping thousands of people achieve inspiring, and sometimes dramatic weight results.
You might also notice that the principles of the keto diet are very similar to the South Beach Diet. (reviews, specials) In fact, the South Beach Diet has recently developed a keto-friendly program, which even more closely aligns with the principles of ketogenic diets.
So, what’s the difference between South Beach and the keto diet? Here’s a word about ketosis, and what you should know if you are considering either one:
First, a Word About “Ketosis”
“Ketosis” is the most important concept to understand with the keto diet, so here’s a quick overview of what ketosis actually is:
Normally your body uses carbs from food as it’s main energy source. When carbs are restricted, your body switches to burning fat for fuel instead, and in the process produces “keytones” for energy.
This fat-burning mode is called, “ketosis.” After cutting carbs, the metabolic state of ketosis usually takes about 3-4 days to achieve, and often produces fast weight loss.
Positive side-effects of being in ketosis include:
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Increased focus
- More energy
*We should add that common negative side-effects of ketosis include bad breath and insomnia. (Well, at least no one else is awake to smell your bead breath!)
Anyway, while being in the state of ketosis is crucial to the keto diet, it isn’t crucial with the South Beach Diet. Here’s what’s similar and different about keto and the South Beach Diet:
Similarities of South Beach Diet & Keto:
Both the South Beach Diet and keto score highly for short-term weight loss, and low for long-term weight loss. That’s probably because both are relatively restrictive with what you can eat.
Do you love pasta? If so, these are probably not the diets for you, as Carb-restriction is central to both the South Beach Diet and Keto.
Keto and South Beach have a couple of important similarities. In fact, being on the keto diet is a lot like Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, which is lower in carbs and added sugar than subsequent phases.
Keto diets limit carbs to about 20-50 grams per day. Although most keto diets allow fewer carbs than South Beach, that number is in-line with South Beach’s “Keto-Friendly” plan, and the first phase of their regular diet. During Phase 1 of South Beach, you’re allowed up to 40 grams of carbs each day, which increases slightly to 50 grams per day during Phase 2.
*Consider that 2 slices of bread or a single apple both have 25g of carbs each, and a piece of pizza has 35+ carbs. The truth is that cutting carbs isn’t easy!
Another similarity is that on both Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet and Keto, you’ll want to avoid eating starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, etc) and whole grains, which are generally high in carbs.
But, aren’t veggies and whole grains good for you?
Yes, absolutely, but here’s the key to both keto and South Beach: you want to switch your body’s fuel source from carbs to fat, so any vegetables allowed will be of the non-starchy variety.
In order to that, both keto and South Beach slash carb-consumption so that your body turns to fat as a second option for fuel. I like to think of that process as, “the big switch,” and it’s central to the success of both diets.
Differences Between Keto & South Beach Diet:
Is South Beach Diet keto? That depends. The South Beach Diet allows more carbs and protein than a strict keto diet. That means that while you must be in the state of “ketosis” for success on the keto diet, you don’t have to be with South Beach. However, both Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet and their Keto-Friendly plan reduce your daily carb consumption, which makes being in ketosis more likely.
Dietician, Courtney McCormick, from South Beach Diet said:
“The ketogenic dietary pattern is one that is low carb and high in high-quality healthy fats. The South Beach Diet aligns with this dietary pattern and we do not believe nutritional ketosis needs to be obtained to gain many of the benefits of a ketogenic dietary pattern for weight loss and overall health and wellness.”
Another difference between South Beach Diet and Keto is that South Beach is generally higher in protein than a strict Keto diet. While it’s true that too much protein can prevent ketosis, South Beach believes that it’s crucial to a healthy diet and building muscle mass.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Keto and South Beach is that the Keto diet welcomes all fats, while South Beach is more selective. So, for example, while Keto approves of an unhealthy, fatty-food like bacon for its high-fat content, the South Beach Diet doesn’t.
South Beach generally frowns on foods that are high in saturated fat, and instead encourages more healthy lean proteins from meats and other sources.
I’d summarize the difference between keto and South Beach by saying that keto is narrowly focused on weight loss results, while the South Beach Diet has a more holistic view of a person’s health. While keto drastically cuts carbs and allows fat for ketosis and dramatic short-term weight loss, South Beach has a bit more of a sustainable and healthy approach.
South Beach vs Keto: Expert Ratings?
U.S News recently asked a panel of health and diet experts to rank Keto and South Beach Diet on a number of important factors. Here’s how they compare:
As you can see, experts rate Keto lower than the South Beach Diet. This is primarily because of two reasons:
- Keto is a restrictive diet, making it harder to follow
- Keto is not a healthy diet, especially long-term
Because of it’s narrow focus on short-term weight loss results over holistic health and wellness, most experts do not recommend keto. In fact, most commercial diets have moved more towards a more holistic approach, emphasizing “wellness” instead of weight loss as the main goal. That’s why Weight Watchers (reviews, specials) changed their name to “WW,” and apps like Noom don’t mention the word, “diet” at all!
Actually, keto can be harmful diet, especially if you are diabetic. If high levels of ketones develop, it’s dangerous. This can lead to health problems like ketoacidosis; a serious condition in which your blood becomes acidic. If you have diabetes, consult your physician before starting any diet, especially keto.
South Beach Diet’s “Keto-Friendly” Plan:
If you like aspects of both keto and South Beach, you can learn more about the South Beach Diet Keto-Friendly plan, which attempts to bring the best of both diets into one program. The South Beach Diet keto program is similar to their regular (meal-delivery plan), but lower in refined carbs. It’s basically like staying in Phase 1 of their diet indefinitely, and never moving on to the higher-carb Phase 2.
If you’d like to learn more, here’s the best coupon for the South Beach keto plan:
As you can see, the average weight loss after the first 7 days of South Beach Keto is about 6 pounds. The initial fast results from cutting-carbs are why keto diets have exploded in popularity.
Cutting Carbs: Here’s 5 Easy Food Hacks:
Both South Beach and the ketogenic diet require some creative ways to cut carbs out of your daily diet. Before we declare a winner, here’s a few great food-swaps for those who count carbs:
Ok, now let’s talk about which of these two low-carb diets is better!
Keto or South Beach Diet: Which Is Better?
Keto and South Beach are both popular “heavyweight” diets that restrict carbs in an effort to lose weight quickly.
While they both score well for short-term weight loss, they fall short when it comes to keeping the weight off long-term. So, which diet wins in a head-to-head battle?
When it comes to keto versus the South Beach Diet, we have to agree with the experts conclusion: South Beach is a better diet.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the right diet for you. Keto is very popular because it usually leads to fast weight loss results. If followed properly, and for a short time, keto may work well as a short-term part of a larger plan to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
However, we can’t recommend keto as a long-term diet, as it restricts important nutrients like good carbs and fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The South Beach Diet is available to join as monthly meal delivery, (learn more / cost) or DIY as a book by Dr. Agatston. If you’d like to consider other meal-delivery diets, we recommend Nutrisystem, (cost, coupons) which is rated a little higher than South Beach.
Ask your doctor before beginning any diet, especially keto. Thanks for stopping by Mighty Diets!
Hi, I’m Kevin McCormick. I’m a blogger who enjoys writing on a number of topics including health and wellness. I have a BA in Art History and Health Sciences from Rutgers University in NJ. I currently live in Philadelphia, Pa., and have 3 kids and a Vizsla (dog) more…