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.
Experts had enough reservations to send Eco-Atkins to the bottom third of the easy-to-follow list. While it’s less restrictive than traditional Atkins, most followers eliminate all animal products, making compliance somewhat difficult. And few books, online tips, or other resources are available to guide dieters.
The regimen lacks the structure provided by some commercial plans, making it somewhat difficult to follow. Dieters must figure out what, how much, and when to eat on their own. Plus, a GI ranking, which distinguishes good carbs from bad, isn’t available for every food.
Research suggests most people have trouble sticking to restrictive diets, and the diet’s limit on fat to 10 percent of daily calories compared with the government’s recommended 20 to 35 percent is certainly restrictive. Those who can’t do without fatty foods like animal products may not be able to stay the course. Experts gave Ornish just under 2 stars, deeming it somewhat difficult to follow.
Look elsewhere if you want simple, the experts agreed. No dairy, eggs, poultry, or red meat allowed—or anything artificial, processed, or with chemical additives. One expert called it a “drastic diet change” and expressed doubt that most Americans could comply.
The premise—that if cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t, either—means cutting out refined sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains, while subsisting on meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies. Such restrictions make the diet among the more challenging to follow on our list.
With a score nearly a star below average, veganism qualifies as somewhat difficult to follow. It’s very restrictive, and shaping a healthful (and tasty) plan takes work and creativity. Restaurant meals are doable, but options may be limited. And only certain types of alcohol are vegan-friendly.
The plan ranks as one of the most difficult to follow, receiving a paltry 1.6 out of 5 stars. Experts worried that few Americans are willing to follow a low-fat, vegan diet, especially one that’s needlessly restrictive. “It will offer health benefits, but for most people, it will be hard to do,” one expert said. “The basic approach seems to emphasize a tough-guy attitude, and it’s doubtful this plan is well-designed for families. That can be a real barrier to sustainability.”
Rules-driven and extremely restrictive, this diet was second worst, scoring a full star below the average for all diets. The early phases focus only on high-protein choices like veal and pork, and alcohol is banned entirely until later stages. (Other food groups eventually are added back in.) “A diet that is not flexible and limits macronutrients would be difficult to integrate into daily dietary habits,” said one expert.
Dehydrated bananas and buckwheat sunflower seed pizza crust? About 75 to 80 percent of what raw foodists eat are plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees. The approach is extremely prohibitive and unusual, and some meals are based on plants that must be germinated from seeds, harvested, and dehydrated. Of all 25 diets evaluated, experts deemed it the most difficult to follow and gave it close to the lowest score possible in this category.