Best Diets Overall
U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 29 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.
The Asian diet is a reasonable choice for an eating pattern, landing around the middle of the pack of ranked diets. Experts handed out high marks in nutrition and safety, but doubted the plan’s ability to deliver short- or long-term weight loss.
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.
While the diet itself is nutritionally sound, experts expressed concern that it’s needlessly complicated, lacks supervision or feedback, and boasts unsubstantiated claims like the benefits of supplement use. “Most Americans would benefit from adopting many of these principles, especially increasing fruits and vegetables,” one expert said. “What is lacking is scientific evidence that this diet will reduce inflammation in the body and that weight loss results from following it.”
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.
Experts handed out a below-average 3 stars. Though they acknowledged its benefits for heart health and diabetes control and prevention, they faulted the program for being unnecessarily restrictive and “gimmicky,” and called for more research into some of its claims. “I fail to see anything unique, innovative, or useful with this diet,” one expert said.
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.
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.
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.