What are the Best and Worst Diet Plans?

January 9, 2017   11 Comments

Every year, US News & World Reports comes out with their list of best and worst diet plans.

What are the Best and Worst Diet Plans?

I am always interested because the list is quite serious. They asked experts in nutrition (RDs and MDs) to review 38 diet plans and give their unbiased assessment of the latest programs.

Every year the winner of the best diet (for a couple of years now) has been one that you can access for free! Isn’t that amazing? The winner is called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and it was created for people who are trying to minimize their risk of heart disease. The panelists think it is the best diet for all of us.

The Best Diets Overall:

1. DASH Diet
2. Mediterranean Diet
3. MIND Diet

You can get a plan of the Dash Diet as well as a list of recipes to support the plan for free – DASH friendly recipes.

The panelists loved how the DASH diet was well-balanced and seemed sustainable over the long term. They also liked how it was well researched.

What about the worst diets? Obviously they couldn’t look at every diet plan on the market but it is interesting which ones occupied the last spots in the 38 plan list.

38. Whole30 Diet
37. Dukan Diet
36. Paleo Diet

I have written about the Whole 30 and I have to agree that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. These diets are very restrictive and don’t seem sustainable for the long term. Also, they wipe out entire food groups – which seems unnecessary to me for a healthy diet.

Moderation is a good thing and all three of these diets are extreme. The worst part about them is that there is no independent research to back up their claims. Personally, I want to know that a diet plan has worked in a large group of people before I commit my time, money, and energy to following it.

When I read through the DASH diet, I see an emphasis on lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. How could you go wrong?

Finally, they list the best diets for weight loss:

1. Weight Watchers
2. Jenny Craig
2. Volumetrics

Jenny Craig and Volumetrics tied for #2. They liked that all three of these were evidence based and felt that they did lead to short term weight loss. Of course, you still need a diet that can sustain you, right? Volumetrics is the least expensive of the three (requires a book) and it makes sense to me. You eat a larger volume of fruits and vegetables to help you from getting hungry while you cut down on calories.

Have you tried any of these diets. What do you think? Were they helpful?

Other posts you might like:

Weight Watchers 2017

Weight Watchers New for 2017?

Every couple of years, Weight Watchers revamps its program to include the latest in nutrition research....

How to Quit Sugar in 30 Days

How to Quit Sugar in 30 Days

The title here is a little disingenuous because I am not suggesting that you give up all sugar....

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"Short term weight loss" - then these diets or programs ultimately aren't successful.

More and more research is pointing to the importance that fats play in our diet, and this doesn't seem to be represented in your post

For example:

As I commented before, I love Weight Watchers. It's definitely the best plan for me. But it's also not a diet, it's a lifestyle. I think that's the problem with a lot of diets. Some people think once they reach goal they can go back to eating whatever they did before and that's simply not the case. It has to be sustainable for the long term. :)

I definitely don't like diets that cut out food groups. Moderation is key.

@Vanessa - I was also frustrated with the lack of discussion of fat in the diet reviews. The DASH diet relies on low-fat dairy to keep calories low and I wonder if that isn't "out" right now with the latest work. The problem is that there isn't a big enough plan incorporating higher fat content to review.

I like "Always Hungry" for a discussion of fat's role.

Thank you for your comment!

After years of various diets I have found that overnight fasting is the one that, for me, is the easiest in terms of lifestyle change, and the best for weight loss. It is often known as 16:8. Fast for 16 hours from your last meal of the day, so for me, I fast from 7:30pm to 11:30 am. Easy. I am losing weight slowly but easily. I eat whatever I want in the 8 hours. Have lost 20 lbs. in 4 months.

Thank you for posting this.

What did you think of the Thin Healthy Mama Plan

I love WW! I eat everything in moderation. No rush I have lost over 85 pounds and it has taken me 3 1/2 years to make lifetime. Slow is definitely the key for substainability. I have learned to change my lifestyle but I like the accountability that I get with WW. Also, meeting people who understand what I have gone through has helped. To me, this journey has been so worth it!!!!

Re Whole 30. I read this study and did not understand why Whole 30 was even included. Whole 30 is not a diet. It is a 30 day plan for people with digestive, skin, autoimmune issues to help pinpoint if your food choices are affecting your health. Food restrictions are only for 30 days to see if your symptoms improve if you don't eat certain foods. Participants are asked not to weigh themselves during the 30 days and instead to pay attention to things like mood, stress, energy and sleep quality to see if they are better. My husband and I have done this program twice and while we have both lost a few pounds that is the least of all the benefits we have noticed. People who are only interested in weight loss should stick with DASH and Weight Watchers. Weight loss is not what Whole30 is about.

The best diet, as references in a comment above, isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change. We all get in trouble when we think we'll eat a certain way for a while to Lise weight then go back to our "normal" eating habits. A whole food plant based way of eating has worked the best for me in terms of both health and weight loss. But I believe the key is to find a way of healthy eating that works for you and then commit to it for the long term.

When WW first came out with the Core program, it was based on Volumetrics. They tweaked it a bit and changed the name to Simply Filling. No points to count daily for every little thing, just those extras.....focuses on eating healthy, and figuring out when to really stop. On the WW site it is possible to switch how you track, even daily. Only thing I never agreed with is the emphasis on fat free dairy.....and they still do that! I have switched to Fairlife milk, either whole or added stuff, they double strain it or something like it and it has more protein, less carbs and sugar than other milks. It is 4 SP for 2% and 5 SP for whole milk per cup, tastes great and well worth it. Also stay away from fat free cheese.

I lost 52lbs on Jenny Craig, eating basically their food...very expensive food. Their maintenance plan is not strong enough to help their customers once you reach your goal. I would ask lots of questions to my counselor and sometimes she was able to answer them sometimes not. Slowly I have gained back about still holding off 20, but for the amount of money I spent, I wouldn't do it again.

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