The Worst Diets for 2015

January 7, 2015   24 Comments

I hate to be negative but I feel that now is the time to shout about diets that you should avoid.

The Worst Diets for 2015

I would stand on a table and yell if I thought anyone would listen!

US News and World Report publishes a well researched list of the most popular diets using a panel of experts to determine which ones make sense.

I doubt the ones at the top of the list (the best diets) would surprise you – The DASH Diet and the TLC Diet – both created by US government agencies attempting to help people with heart disease and diabetes. Experts like these diets because they are evidence based (science!).

But what about the diet plans that you should avoid? It seems like every year there is a new diet that everyone is trying and talking about. How does the latest popular diet stack up?

Here are the main issues with some popular diets:

1. Too restrictive. Diets that get rid of entire food groups (like carbohydrates) are hard to follow. Also, you might put yourself at risk for nutritional difficulties if you stop eating food groups such as grains and fruit.

2. No evidence it works. Diets that make claims but don’t have any clinical research to back them up. An author of a diet may have tried it on his or her clients, but that isn’t enough for experts to say it actually works.

3. Tedious and inconvenient. If there are a lot of rules and exact meal plans to follow, you will probably give up.

Here are the worst diets on the US News and World Reports list and my catch phrases to sum them up:

1. Paleo DietMe caveman, me eat like my caveman ancestors

2. Dukan Dietwho needs fruit or grains?

3. Raw Food Dietcooked food is bad for you

These particular diets have never been of interest to me because I like cooked food, fruit, and an occasional slice of cake.

Are these diets possibly unsafe? No one has a real answer to that question. It has been shown that high protein diets, such as Dukan, can tax the kidneys and not cooking certain foods can lead to food poisoning.

Set yourself up for success by avoiding these untested diets and choose diets that are easy to integrate into your life and have science that back them up.

Have you had any experience with the worst diets? Have they worked for you?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 24 )

I have not had personal experience with any of these diets but I do know that research and experience has given us a lot of information not available before. It only makes sense not to give up entire food groups due to vitamin concerns- and I personally hate the word diet- in order to lose weight and keep it off you have to change your lifestyle and what you eat!

Hi Lisa,

First, I want to say I love your blog! Thanks so much for the regular updates, which I love.

I have to say that I disagree with the inclusion of paleo in the "worst diets" or even as a restrictive diet. I follow the paleo (or, more recently, primal) way of eating and it's not nearly as restrictive as people seem to think - there's no question of cutting out an entire group of macronutrients (ie carbohydrates); simply grains and potentially, if one is intolerant, other allergens. There is literally almost nothing you can't substitute either - I eat American muffins (and sometimes even English muffins), bread, cookies and cake all the time, but I just make sure they're baked with a non-grain flour. I think they're delicious! My friends don't even realise that they don't contain grains, which is all the more quite impressive since I'm sugar-free too :). Honestly, the US and World Reports shouldn't knock it til they've tried it ... they might be surprised.

I know when I first went on it, it was to lose weight (which worked). I don't need to lose weight now but yet I wouldn't dream of eating any other way because I feel so much better now. I know I sound like a total paleo/primal evangelist but I have to defend it haha.

Thanks again for your lovely blog and Happy New Year!


I didn't do a diet or check with my physician. I was what I considered healthy 55 yr old ~exercised daily and needed to loose 15-20 pounds. So for almost a year, I excluded prepackaged processed foods. I roasted a ton of broccoli, cauliflower, & carrots on Sunday and ate them for lunch for the week. I made kale & spinach based smoothies for breakfast. Dinner was salad, vegetables and some meat. snacks were nuts & raw veggies. I did have the occasional dessert. The results?? I lost some weight nothing really to brag about but what I want others to know is it threw off my blood work levels. Not just a little but to an extreme. My potassium level was too high; my iodine too low; I was diagnosed as prediabetic and osteoporosis; among other things. It was a routine physical. I was feeling sluggish and tired and not my normal energetic self. Lesson learned!! My dr gave me nutritional information and I now strive for a more balanced diet. I feel healthy and though not entirely back to normal I am recovering.

Good post! The age-old saying will always sum it up best: everything in moderation. I have tried countless diets, many of them really restrictive and one of them with 400+ min exercise/week. Every one of them, in the end, is too much to keep up with. For 2015, I have vowed that I will eat in moderation and exercise in moderation-thanks, science!- and if that means it takes me a year or two to get this weight off, then so be it. We have a responsibility to be role models for our children so that the next generation can end the obesity trend.

Love your blog and your cookbook but I can personally say that the Dukan Diet and the Paleo work. The Dukan IS hard to stick to long term but short term, I did lose weight. Paleo is just clean eating with no carbs/gluten...this is more a lifestyle of eating for life and I feel so much better cutting out some foods.

When I saw the title of your article I was interested to see what you had selected as the worst diets....but then disappointed to see you simply list 3 diets and give little to no justification or back up for the selections. As a healthy lifestyle coach, I would never tell people something was good or bad without offering a reason as to why. My main issue is to do with your comment on paleo. You gave practically zero explanation as to why it's not only a bad diet, but one of the worst (and yet lauded 2 diets as being the best only because they are supported by the government which by no means automatically makes them superior as past nutritional guidelines from the government have shown). While I myself don't eat entirely paleo, I do use it to inform my eating and research has shown time and time again that that style of eating (or a diet based on that style of eating) can be very beneficial to health but yet you somehow missed that.

Everyone has a valid opinion - but as someone who puts merit in scientific backing Id appreciate less opinion and more fact.

@Rachel - this isn't my opinion - it is US World and News Report annual list where they use experts to review diets. The article:

has all the reasons why these diets are the worst. Before my short list - I summarize their findings about these three diets.

Thanks for your comment!

Thanks so much for your response :)

I realize that that list was what the US World and News Report reviewed...I just think that it was a bit of a superficial explanation for why the diets are bad. In truth, there is no one style of eating that works for everyone and in this case, many people thrive off of the paleo diet, or at least by minimizing grains and processed foods.

Just because a diet is government supported doesn't make it it 'good'. There is a lot of politics involved in the creation of these diets and just because there is 'science' behind them, it doesn't mean it's good science. All I'm saying is to take reviews like this at face value and that people should look more closely at what eating style works best for them individually.

Wow Cheska, thank you very much for sharing!

Rachel, here's another source regarding Paleo. With any diet it's good to research both sides. TIME is a very valid source and worth a read. It seems some Snack Girl fans are disagreeing with the US News and World report. I found this Time article helpful because it shows the good and the bad about Paleo:…

I think your article is fine. If someone wants more information on the diets, they can look them up.

Hi Lisa, At the very least, I thought your comment about the Paleo diet was very funny! People take their diet stuff so seriously. I appreciate those who have a sense of humor about it. As a recovered former bulimic, I have had to maintain a balanced, "everything-in-moderation" approach to all things regarding weight and eating for most of my adult life, in order to remain not just physically healthy, but also mentally healthy.

Now, however, as I am approaching the big "5-0", I find that my old ways don't work as well as they used to...I have put on about 20 lbs in the past 2 years. I'm sure it's due to metabolism slow-down. Rather than panicking about it, I'm actively choosing to learn about and apply better methods of life-activity-eating balance, and to seek out others who feel the same. That is how I came across your blog, which I love!

Thank you for doing what you do!


Hi Lisa! I just finished reading your cook book and I absolutely loved it. Through most of it I was nodding my head and the phrase "my thoughts exactly" came to mind a bunch. There were also quite a few eye openers and revelations AND it was funny :)

As far as the paleo diet. I have tried it, I was living with a friend a few years back who wanted support while losing weight, so we started the diet together. Surprisingly it's not as restrictive as you'd think, as long as you don't let it be! My friend lost almost 90 lbs (260 to 190) and has mostly kept it off and I lost about 30 lbs (170 to 140) and have kept it off no problem. I don't think diets work generally. And in the beginning this one wasn't working for either of us. I told my friend we had to give ourselves wiggle room (we weren't getting enough protein and we were sling shotting back to cheeseburgers). So we made the diet our own by following it about 85% and the other 15% generally eating healthy, letting ourselves indulge a little, and excercising. We had to get creative, but snacking all day on fruits and veggies sped up metabolism and gave me the head start I needed to lose weight. After about 6 months we were happy with our results, and went from dieting to simply eating healthy.

So I say do the diet that works best for you. Even if it's taking a popular maybe unhealthy diet and tweaking it to suit your needs. If your happy and relaxed, the weight will come off without you even noticing.

Responding to the comments by Cheska: I am 71 and overweight. My doctor just found me pre-diabetic and I am now on a very low carb diet, asked to cut out completely grains and grain based flour products and sugars. So far it is OK-- I have lost weight. I am almost never hungry and feel fine. It is interesting that what i am medically advised to do to recover from the pre-diabetic blood readings is what you did to arrive in the unhealthy state. So what to believe? I eat more meat than you did, most likely, and I eat eggs and cheese and am not afraid of "healthy" fats.

A few years ago I did Atkins, which is pretty much what I'm doing now, except that this regimen is even more restricted with the elimination of grain products and NO added sugars. I am learning to use nut flours to bake with. I HAVE to improve my blood results or I will be put on meds for diabetes, so I adhere to the plan strictly. When I was doing Atkins years ago my blood-work always came back PERFECT and my doctor just said. "Keep up whatever you are doing." Over the years, I changed back into old ways and added in sugar and flour and pretty much ate anything I wanted, with a lot of cruciferous veggies because I like them, which is when the blood-work went awry.

So in a few more months I'll know if this Atkins-like regimen is working to my advantage. I think it is interesting that all diabetes literature and the medical people I have talked to are advising this kind of food plan to avoid diabetes.

I have to concur with Rachel. USNWR, known and widely disparaged for their college rankings, is on rather shaky ground here skewing their entire rankings towards things blessed by the US Government. Just a casual understanding of the history of the food plate/pyramid/tree/shape of the week should make one rather skeptical of the USDA. USDA labeling guidelines regarding content are very useful. But regarding intake...they're a joke.

Paleo is most certainly NOT a weight loss diet. It is a body composition/health diet. I have a lot of issues with Paleo. There's the grass/grain fed malarky, the anti-dairy claptrap, and the willingness to completely ignore fats. BUT...the overall push to give protein more prominence and to reduce/eliminate processed carbohydrates has substantial supporting evidence.

I admittedly did not review the full list. tldr; There likely are lifestyle eating habits that are better than Paleo. My main beef here is with the USNWR evaluation criteria. Given how they criticized Paleo (something I at least am familiar with), I feel justified with the tldr; decision.

I agree with Penny, I hate the word "diet". For many years I floated up and down and up and down on diets and listening to others' experiences that aided them. Then five years ago, I made two simple changes. I stopped drinking soda pop and fruit drinks and began drinking only water. (I began this at Lent Season). I drank only water and milk and am still in that regimen five years later. I also make sure to take a vitamine daily and now I drink pure pineapple juice for my arthritis. Then I gave up those delicious chocolate chip cookies. When I did those two things, I found I could continue. I didn't give up much more and have lost and kept off for five year more than 80 pounds. I have made a change since that time. I stopped eating red meat and eat fish and poultry. Then I walk as often as I can during the week. My blood pressure is good, I don't take any prescription medication either. It works for me.

Grains have very little nutritional value per calorie when compared to fruits and vegetables. The Paleo/Primal diet is simply to remove grains and replace them with more vegetables and some fruits. You can call it restrictive but really it's only restricting you from eating junk food since grains are the primary ingredient in junk food. Dairy is only removed for people that do not tolerate it.

Fad diets should be a thing of the past... I prefer Healthy Lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle means you are eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbs, and getting in exercise at least 3 times a week. This combination and the right attitude will help you reach your goals in 2015! And yes the pale comment was funny!!

I agree with the comments made about Paleo on two counts; one, if anyone has ever read Death by Food Pyramid, one would never trust what the government has to say about nutrition again. and two: it's not a diet in the sense of restriction for weight loss, it's a diet in terms of eating lifestyle and there is a lot of evidence as to why it's beneficial. That being said, I took the original post as tongue in cheek.

I have a wound on my leg from lymphedema and I'm told to eat healthy grains to heal it.

I thought the healthiest people in the world because of there local diets have some grains in them??

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