The South Beach Diet vs. The Keto Diet

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south beach and keto diet

The South Beach Diet isn’t the only safe and effective diet out there. (Yes, we really just said that.) There are other low carb plans that can aid in weight loss, and one in particular shares major similarities to our low carb approach to losing weight. The Ketogenic Diet is everywhere—on magazine covers, in blogs, health journals and more. It’s a diet with many of the same principles as the South Beach Diet. South Beach and Keto both have low carb meal plans for weight loss, both encourage healthy fat consumption and both have proven success stories. So what makes these two lifestyles different?

Check out what makes South Beach and Keto Dieting similar, and learn what the main differences are:

The Similarities

keto diet

Both the Keto Diet and South Beach Diet are higher in fat and low in carbs and added sugar. During the first week of the South Beach and Keto, you’ll also avoid eating fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains, which contain substantial amounts of carbs. Even though fruits, veggies and whole grains are certainly healthy foods and provide us with a variety of vitamins and minerals, the idea of week one is to “reboot” your body, ridding its dependence on carbs for energy and helping your body get into a more efficient fat burning metabolic state.

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When you’re following South Beach and Keto and very few carbs are eaten, the body pulls glucose (fuel) from the liver and temporarily breaks down muscle to release it. When your body uses up all of its stored glucose and you are no longer consuming large amounts of carbs, insulin blood levels decrease and fat is used as fuel. The liver then produces ketone bodies from fat (which can be used in the absence of glucose). This process is called ketosis. “A strict Keto Diet will alter carbohydrate levels to ensure nutritional ketosis,” says Registered Dietitian Courtney keto foodsMcCormick. The total amount of carbs allowable each day on the Keto Diet to maintain the state of ketosis will vary from person to person, with most experts stating a range between 20 – 50 grams of carbs per day as ideal. People following a strict Keto Diet will monitor their ketone levels through urine testing strips, to ensure they body is in a state of ketosis.

The Differences

Most Keto Diets require you consume fewer than 50 grams of net carbs per day (some say 20 grams or lower). The South Beach Diet plan is designed to allow up 50 grams of net carbs each day. “We are not guaranteeing nutritional ketosis or requiring you to test your urine or blood for ketones every day,” says McCormick. “The South Beach Diet plan was designed to follow the principles of a low carb diet based on the best available ketogenic dietscientific evidence to date.” By following the overall low carb  approach, you may still gain many of the weight loss benefits of the ketogenic dietary pattern without necessarily needing to be in a true state of nutritional ketosis.

For those following the South Beach Diet, you should still be focusing on a high protein diet, while most strict keto plans are low to moderate protein. According to Harvard Health, meats are typically limited on the Keto Diet because too much protein can prevent ketosis. We’ve kept the protein high because we recognize that when people lose weight, they also lose muscle. And that protein consumption is necessary to help maintain that muscle mass!

south beach ketoThe South Beach foods include proteins AND healthy fats. The same foods are encouraged for DIY meals when you do the cooking (or ordering) yourself.

Finally, because the Keto Diet places such emphasis on low net carbs, McCormick says it’s difficult to maintain long-term. “The South Beach Diet allows for flexibility to still enjoy healthier complex carbs from time to time in order to be flexible to fit your lifestyle,” says McCormick.

Take a look at the breakdown of our Weight Loss Phase to better understand the South Beach Diet:

women's low-carb weight loss phase

men's low-carb weight loss phase

For our full South Beach Grocery Guide, click here! >