Easiest Diets to Follow
The easier a diet is to follow, the better the odds of sticking to it. So user-friendliness was one of the factors experts considered in rating the 29 popular programs below. Is the diet filling and tasty? Does it impose stringent requirements such as eating a certain number of times per day? Are unique foods required? The experts put Weight Watchers at the top, viewing it as flexible, tasty, and allowing plenty of eating throughout the day.
This diet is a relatively good choice as a moderately easy plan. No food group is off limits, and recipes, convenience foods, and online resources abound. “This is a pretty common sense approach,” said one expert. “It’s not overly restrictive, making it easier for one to stick with long term.”
Nearly 3 stars put this diet about in the middle of the pack as another moderately easy-to-follow plan. Snacks and dessert are allowed, and there’s no calorie-counting—both factors that boost compliance. On the other hand, substantial prep and cooking time are required, and U.S. News-consulted experts found the program rather restrictive, especially at first, when fruit, starches, and alcohol are off-limits.
Dieters are on their own to plan meals and keep track of calories, and there are few guiding resources. Most experts doubted that followers could stick with it over the long haul. “It’s a good diet, but I suspect much will get lost in translation,” one warned.
Experts gave the Anti-Inflammatory diet a slightly above-average 2.7 stars. Though it emphasizes a diverse variety of whole foods, it’s a complicated plan that involves time, money, and food-preparation effort. “It may add culinary delight for those with hours to spend in the kitchen, but it will intimidate many more,” one expert said.
This diet, too, is moderately easy to follow. While menus are tasty and ample guides are available, the strict eating schedule—a meal or snack every four hours—may be a turnoff for busy dieters. And a specified amount of monounsaturated fatty acids is required at every meal, making the plan “unnecessarily complicated,” as one expert noted.
On the easy-to-follow scale, this diet joins the moderately-easy cluster. It’s not the most challenging approach—nor the easiest. Giving it just under 3 stars on average, experts recognized that building a healthy vegetarian diet takes planning, and going meat-free can be tough for some. But dieters are free to choose what they can’t live without, like having some turkey on Thanksgiving, which helps ease the transition.
Toward the lower end of the moderately easy range. Lots of prep work is required, and each meal must include at least two of 12 Abs Diet Powerfoods. That could challenge busy dieters, one expert said. On the upside, one “cheat meal” is allowed per week and dieters get frequent meals and snacks.
A limited menu and small portions make this diet somewhat difficult to follow, according to experts. Its powdered, just-add-water food also will likely grow old fast. But dieters get to eat frequently and aren’t required to track anything—there’s no counting of carbs, points, or calories—all compliance-boosters.
Atkins was rated somewhat difficult to follow. It’s very restrictive—goodbye to sweets and bread, for example—and dieters must diligently count carbs. Plans that sharply limit entire food groups for long periods, as Atkins does with carbs, tend to succeed less often than more flexible diets do, according to experts. Eating out is a chore, and alcohol is discouraged. All of the above explain why Atkins scored just a bit below average and wound up in the lower middle of the pack.
Each meal must contain the precise percentage of carbs, protein, and healthy fat. There’s a strict eating schedule, too: breakfast within an hour of waking up; snacks and meals every five hours. That inflexibility makes Zone somewhat difficult to follow.