Paleo, Keto, Whole30, Atkins and South Beach: Similarities and Differences

August 24, 2018

Low-carb diets can offer real advantages for health and fitness. A number of different diet plans are available that minimize carbs and promote a more natural approach to eating. We can help you determine the most practical choice for your diet plan and your overall weight loss regimen.


The Paleo Diet

Paleo diets are based on the principle of eating the foods our ancestors did. By turning the clock back on manufactured foods and farmed grains, paleo plans promote added consumption of raw vegetables and fruits. About 20 percent of the caloric content of a paleo diet is derived from these types of carbs. The remainder is composed of about 15 percent protein and 65 percent fats. 

Eggs, fish, meat and nuts are among the most common sources of calorie intake for paleo diets. Dairy products are usually excluded. Essentially, the paleo diet includes only the foods available to people during the hunter-gatherer stage of civilization. Grains that must be cultivated are not included in this dietary plan. This eliminates bread, pasta and other processed carbohydrates and puts the focus on simply prepared meats, fish and eggs with an accompaniment of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Paleo diets can provide added support for patients with diabetes and gluten sensitivity. Because no calorie counting is required, the paleo approach is well suited for those with limited time to devote to menu planning activities.

Ketogenic Diet Plans

Ketosis is a natural state in which the body is deprived of glucose and instead burns fat cells to maintain its activities. This can result in an increase in ketones in the bloodstream. Excessive concentrations of ketones can lead to ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that can be life-threatening in extreme cases. 

Keto diet plans reduce or eliminate grains, fruits and other sources of glucose from your diet. Most keto plans keep carbs at five percent or lower and make up the difference with high-quality proteins and fats. This can keep the body in a state of ketosis in which fat is burned continuously to reduce weight and improve overall health.

Ketogenic diets require careful supervision and monitoring to ensure the safety of those using this method to lose weight. Properly managed, keto can burn fat more quickly and may have a positive effect on conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

The Whole30 Program

Rather than focusing on a lifelong change in dietary intake, Whole30 programs are designed to last for 30 days at a time and eliminate a wide range of foods for the entirety of these thirty days. The foods prohibited by the Whole30 diet plan include the following:

  • Grains
  • Beans, peanuts, soy and other legumes
  • Additives and chemical preservatives
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Alcohol
  • Breads, tortillas and grain-based products

Participants in Whole30 are also asked to avoid measurements and weigh-ins throughout the 30 days. This can provide the most accurate assessment of the real effects of this program after the diet is done.

Whole30 diets are excellent for those with allergies and can often provide added insight into these physiological conditions while promoting weight loss and healthier eating habits.

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet plan is usually presented in four stages, each of which offers specific guidance on food choices and categories. 

  • During the first stage, most dieters eliminate almost all carbs in favor of leafy green vegetables and proteins. Fat content of meats is not considered during this stage, which generally lasts two weeks.
  • The second stage of the Atkins diet involves balancing protein and fat intake with a few carbs derived from fruit and vegetables. Nuts are usually added to the acceptable foods list for this stage.
  • Fruits, vegetables and a small portion of grains can be added during the third stage to provide greater comfort for those on the Atkins diet.
  • Maintenance for weight loss can continue for many years after the first three stages of the diet plan have been completed. This final stage allows for greater flexibility so long as the weight stays off.

Sticking to the Atkins diet can provide better control over blood sugar levels for diabetic patients and can promote improved cardiovascular health. 

South Beach

The South Beach diet plan does not rule out all carbs. Instead, it ranks them based on their effect on blood sugar levels and overall metabolism and uses a simplified three-phase program to break dependence on bad carbs. 

  • During phase one of the South Beach plan, dieters are restricted to three meals and two snacks each day that consist of lean proteins, green, leafy vegetables and healthy fats. Alcohol, grains, starches, sugars and fruit juice are strictly off limits during this first phase of the diet.
  • Phase two allows for the addition of a few whole grains and fresh fruit items to the menu plan. Participants will consume three meals and three snacks each day on this plan. An occasional sip of alcohol is also permitted during this phase.
  • When the desired weight has been reached, dieters go to the maintenance phase. Almost any food can be consumed during this phase. The bulk of caloric intake, however, should remain lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Participating in the South Beach diet plan can sometimes reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues, allowing dieters to enjoy better health and a sleeker silhouette.

What Low-Carb Diet Plans Have in Common

Carb-reduction diets share a few critical elements in common:

  • Reduced intake of processed sugars 
  • Cutting out processed grains, breads and other simple carbohydrates
  • Increased amounts of raw fruits and vegetables
  • Elimination of trans fats and most chemical additives
  • Calorie counts replaced by focus on foods and nutrients
  • Acceptance of higher fat consumption than most other diet plans

These diets are intended to provide a more natural eating experience that can boost energy levels and improve fitness without the inconvenience of calorie counting and the discomfort involved in crash diet plans.

Key Differences Between These Diet Plans

Some of the most essential differences between these reduced-carb diet plans include the following:

  • Paleo plans allow for the consumption of fruits, vegetables and other carbs that are restricted under most other plans.
  • Ketogenic plans focus on staying in a state of ketosis by eliminating all glucose from the daily diet. 
  • Whole30 diets are notable for their limited duration and elimination of nearly all sources of allergic reactions.
  • The Atkins diet is designed in four stages that gradually relax dietary restrictions to allow a more normal diet when maintaining weight loss after the first few weeks.
  • Individuals who choose the South Beach diet can enjoy all types of foods but must opt for the healthiest option among fats, carbs and proteins to reduce caloric intake for weight loss.

Our high degree of expertise can pinpoint the right solutions and the most effective ways to lose weight and stay fit, allowing you to find the right low-carb diet plan for your needs.