Herbalife and Atkins are popular diet plans that stress the importance of combining lean proteins with "good" carbohydrates, while avoiding "bad" carbs, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat. While the same in theory, the diets are drastically different in practice. Herbalife's ShapeWorks program, promoted through multilevel marketing distributorships, is a meal-replacement plan, while the new and evolved Atkins program is a four-phased nutritional approach.
Atkins begins with a restrictive induction phase that lasts about two weeks, during which you are limited to a net intake of 20 net carbs per day. You also must stay away from refined sugars, fruits and nuts. Your diet consists of lean meats, leafy greens, vegetables and healthy fats, such as olive oil. In the second phase, Atkins slowly adds carbohydrates until you find your optimal level. This process continues through phase 3. When your desired weight is reached, you start the maintenance phase.
Herbalife consists of protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, with one snack of fresh vegetables and a balanced dinner. The company also offers a variety of supplements and snack products it says supports weight loss and heart health.
The most recent edition of the Atkins plan advises eating small amounts of a variety of fats, primarily omega 3 and omega 6. Saturated fats are also allowed in small amounts, but trans fats are prohibited.
Similarly, Herbalife, stresses eating the "better" polyunsaturates and monounsaturates in moderation while staying away from saturated fats and trans fats.
Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
Good carbs are defined as carbohydrates that are not processed foods and contain a healthy amount of fiber. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, oatmeal and whole grain cereals fall into this category of carbohydrate. Bad carbohydrates, also high in empty calories, include processed foods and refined sugars, such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, soda pop, candy, most baked desserts and ice cream.
Initially, all carbohydrates are removed from your diet in the induction phase of the Atkins plan. Atkins also advises against eating bad carbs once you reach your goal weight and begin the maintenance phases. Herbalife also advises against the consumption of bad carbohydrates.
Individual Carb Intake
As you continue through the various phases of the program, Atkins places great emphasis on an individual finding his own carb level before beginning the maintenance stage. Herbalife does not distinguish between individual levels of carb intake for weight loss and maintenance.
The new Atkins plan works through a series of four steps to teach dieters how to turn a temporary diet into a healthy lifestyle change that includes exercise. With each phase of the program, participants gradually add carbs and other "goodies" to their diet, until they find their optimal intake level for good health. Although there is some individual education within various dealer websites about healthy eating, the program itself does not practice a transition to a long-term healthy eating plan.
The Herbalife maintenance program consists of replacing one meal a day with a shake rather than two. Replacing meals with protein shakes can be difficult to maintain in the long term and is generally not recommended.