Here's a list of the top rated diets ranked by US News & World Report:
Best Diets Overall
U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 25 diets below with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease. The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) snagged the top spot.
DASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. But it certainly looked like an all-star to our panel of experts, who gave it high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and role in supporting heart health. Though obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets.
Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, or TLC, is a very solid diet plan created by the National Institutes of Health. It has no major weaknesses, and it's particularly good at promoting cardiovascular health. One expert described it as a "very healthful, complete, safe diet." But it requires a "do-it-yourself" approach, in contrast to the hand-holding provided by some commercial diets.
This is the Mayo Clinic's take on how to make healthy eating a lifelong habit. It earned especially high ratings from our experts for its nutrition and safety and as a tool against diabetes. Experts found it moderately effective for weight loss.
With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, and other healthy fare, the Mediterranean diet is eminently sensible. And experts' assessments of it were resoundingly positive, giving this diet an edge over many competitors.
Weight Watchers is a smart, effective diet. It surpassed other commercial diet plans in multiple areas, including short- and long-term weight loss and how easy it is to follow. It's also nutritionally sound and safe, according to experts. Among its pluses: An emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and vegetables, and room for occasional indulgences.
Volumetrics outperformed its competitors in many categories. It earned particularly high marks for being safe and nutritious, and experts said it could have a positive effect on heart health and diabetes. "This is an eating plan that everyone can benefit from," one expert said.
Jenny Craig drew praise from experts for being easy to follow, nutritionally complete and safe, and for offering dieters emotional support. But these experts were lukewarm about its potential to bolster heart health or help diabetics. Experts also noted that Jenny Craig's cost could be a roadblock for some.
The diet received high marks for short-term weight loss, safety, and soundness as a regimen for diabetes, and it was rated moderately effective for heart health. But many panelists felt that in a sea of diets, it's not overly special, and one said it's merely "capitalizing on the name" of the popular TV show.
The Ornish diet got a mixed reaction from experts. On one hand, it's nutritionally sound, safe, and tremendously heart-healthy. On the other, it's not easy for dieters to adhere to the severe fat restriction the diet demands.
As a health diet, vegetarianism is solid. It's decent at producing rapid weight loss, according to experts, and is strong in other areas, such as heart health and nutritional completeness, that arguably are more important.
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#11(3.3 out of 5.0)
Slim-Fast is a reasonable approach to dieting, experts concluded. It outscored a number of competitors on weight loss and as a diabetes diet, and being highly structured, it's fairly easy to follow. But it scored lower than many other diets on heart health.#12(3.2 out of 5.0)
The Flat Belly diet landed in the middle of the pack because most of its scores from the experts were right around average. It did get high marks in safety and nutrition.#12(3.2 out of 5.0)
Nutrisystem sits near the middle of the standings. It's quite safe, easier to follow than many other diets, and has few nutritional deficiencies, according to experts. As a heart diet, it's off the mark.#14(3.0 out of 5.0)
The experts found the diet moderately effective for quick weight loss and middle of the road in most other respects. They took issue with the company's claim that dieters can drop up to 12 pounds of belly fat in two weeks and questioned the evidence behind some of its tactics.#14(3.0 out of 5.0)
Although the South Beach Diet earned positive ratings for being able to produce rapid weight loss, its restrictions can make it difficult for dieters to keep the pounds off, experts said. Most were less enthusiastic about its ability to combat diabetes or heart disease.#14(3.0 out of 5.0)
Overall, the health experts were lukewarm on veganism despite giving it fairly high marks as a diabetes or heart disease diet. It is extremely restrictive, doesn't offer built-in social support, and may not provide enough of some nutrients.#17(2.9 out of 5.0)
One expert summed up Eco-Atkins as a "healthier version of the Atkins diet, but compliance is likely to be more difficult." That's because it's restrictive and little guidance is available.#17(2.9 out of 5.0)
Experts were less than impressed with the glycemic-index diet, which distinguishes "good" carbs from "bad." They scored it particularly low on long-term weight loss, heart benefits, and ease of adherence. Although the diet's ratings in nutrition and safety were relatively strong, they couldn't push the diet out of the lower third of the pack.#17(2.9 out of 5.0)
The Zone Diet lagged behind higher-ranked diets, if not always by much, in nearly all ratings categories, including weight loss, how easy it is to follow, and its effect on diabetes and heart health. It's "unnecessary and tedious to structure every meal around specific macronutrient thresholds," according to one expert; another stated there is "no magic with the diet."
(2.7 out of 5.0)
Experts gave little credence to the diet on several counts: Following the plan is a challenge. It's an extreme change from the standard American diet. And it's awfully strict. The macrobiotic approach, one expert summed up, is "a mix of sound dietary guidance, mysticism, folklore, and nonsense."Did this diet work for you?Yes42No119
#20(2.7 out of 5.0)
Experts were likewise unenthused about Medifast. It scored above average in short-term weight loss but was dragged down by lower marks in most other categories.#22(2.3 out of 5.0)
Many of our experts found the popular low-carb Atkins diet leaves much to be desired, at least as an all-purpose diet. Although our expert panel concluded that it could outperform nearly all of its competitors in short-term weight loss, unfavorable marks in other measures-including long-term weight loss, nutrition, safety, and heart health-yanked down Atkins in the standings.#22(2.3 out of 5.0)
The experts conferred solid marks on the diet for weight loss, both short- and long-term, but considered it all but impossible to follow and its nutritional completeness and safety were concerns. "Doing it well involves considerable commitment and effort, knowledge, and sacrifice," one expert said. "And there are diets that require less of all these that are likely to be just as healthful."#24(2.0 out of 5.0)
Experts sent the Dukan diet to the bottom, handing out dismal ratings in nearly every category. Its overall score was more than a full star below average. It's too restrictive, with lots of rules, and there's no evidence it works. One expert described the diet as "idiotic."#24(2.0 out of 5.0)
Experts took issue with the diet on every measure. Regardless of the goal-weight loss, heart health, or finding a diet that's easy to follow-most experts concluded that it would be better for dieters to look elsewhere. "A true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants," said one expert-quickly adding, however, that duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult.
by AutiziumomJanuary 3, 2013 at 10:44 AMI liked the tlc one! But I'm looking for a long term approach! I will eat until full and snack little amounts! Do my exercises that include yoga n weight lifting! I'm still adjusting to eating clean! Sugar and quantity is still a struggle for me! But its all a state of mind!
by armyvet06January 3, 2013 at 12:30 PMIm going for the biggest loser. And since we watch the show, i can even get hints and tips from the trainers and the cooks.
by babynurse244January 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Weight Watchers. I just had twins in October, and I've lost the "baby weight", but need to lose about 40 pounds more.
I've tried a lot of different diets, and I agree that diets aren't the way to go to lose weight or to stay healthy. You have to change your lifestyle, and that means learning to eat healthy MOST of the time, and to counter small indulgences with increased activity or otherwise balancing it out.
I've lost 100 lbs. so far with Weight Watchers (blogged about it here), which, for me, is not a diet. It allows me to eat regular food with my family and to have indulgences when I want or need them (certain times of the month, y'all know what I'm talking about lol.) The program has taught me how to eat right in the real world, and I am still able to enjoy the foods I eat. Good stuff. (Also, never have that "omg I'm starving" feeling.)
by mystearicaJanuary 3, 2013 at 9:12 PMI'm going to stop one unhealthy behavior/food each week. First, pop. Then fast food. Fried food. Finally I'll cut chocolate down to once a week...