Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the Eco-Atkins diet in seven categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) When we combined the ratings, Eco-Atkins fared considerably better than the original Atkins diet but still far below the top-scoring diets. It got high marks for quick weight loss and low marks—worse than Atkins—for ease in following. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
Eco-Atkins will help you lose significant weight during the first year; most followers drop about 2 pounds a week for a few months. The diet earned nearly 4 out of 5 stars, edging out many of the other ranked diets.
Long-Term Weight Loss
“Long term” in diet research generally means at least 2 years. Eco-Atkins pulled in about 2½ stars out of 5, landing in the lower half of the pack. Many experts handed out 3s and 2s, indicating that dieters may not be able to stay on the diet for two years. It’s “too restrictive,” said one panelist, and unlike higher-rated Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, no support to keep dieters on course is built into the program.
Easy to Follow
Eco-Atkins followers are largely on their own—there’s no official guide or question-answer resource. Success will take adjustment and work. The diet’s 2-point score reflects that. One expert called a sample menu “very unappealing,” adding that “the fact that it is hard to prepare and expensive will make [it] very hard to sustain.”
Eco-Atkins, with 2¾ stars out of 5, was outscored by most other diets. When compared to the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, it provides too much fat (43 percent, versus a recommended 20 to 35 percent of daily calories) and too few carbs (26 percent, versus the recommended 45 to 65 percent of daily calories).
This category was a strong point for the Eco-Atkins diet. Its score of nearly 3½ indicates panelists’ absence of serious concerns about risks or side effects, nor do dieters need to worry about malnourishment or unhealthily rapid weight loss.
Our experts did not applaud Eco-Atkins as a means of diabetes prevention or management; its score of 2½ stars put it in the bottom quarter of the group, and evidence that the diet is a smart choice for diabetics is lacking. Still, Eco-Atkins helps you drop pounds, and losing weight and keeping it off will almost certainly reduce your diabetes risk.
For Heart Health
Eco-Atkins earned a respectable 3-plus stars; research suggests it can help keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check and heart disease at bay. The diet emphasizes plant-based protein, which contains no cholesterol and less fat than animal protein—both good for cardiovascular health.
The Flat Belly Diet revolves around monounsaturated fatty acids, which are thought to destroy belly fat while promoting fullness.
The macrobiotic diet mimics vegetarian and vegan eating approaches. Dieters can expect to eat lots of organic, whole foods on this diet.
The Mediterranean diet plan is highly sensible, emphasizing fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, and other healthy fare.