Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the Flexitarian 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.) Overall, the experts were impressed with the plan, giving it high marks for nutritional soundness, safety, and heart health. “This meal plan is about progress, not perfection,” one expert said. “It’s a realistic approach to achieving a healthier style of eating without extreme measures.” Below are ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
Flexitarian dieters will probably shed significant pounds during the first year. The plan pulled in a respectable 3.4 out of 5 stars, though experts craved more research into its effectiveness as a weight-loss regimen.
Long-Term Weight Loss
The Flexitarian diet pulled in 3.3 out of 5 stars. That means experts were reasonably confident that it can help dieters maintain significant weight loss for at least two years. They liked that the plan isn’t extreme, making it easier to achieve long-term success.
Easy to Follow
Experts rated the Flexitarian diet as one of the easiest to follow, largely because it promotes adding food groups rather than eliminating them. The plan earned 3.3 stars, above the average mark in this category. The Flexitarian diet emphasizes doing what you can—its name is based on the word flexible, after all—which makes it easier to stick to over the long haul.
Because it conforms to most of the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the Flexitarian diet earned an impressive 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a “nutritionally sound diet,” one panelist said, adding that its flexibility lowers the risk of nutrient deficiencies that often plague vegan diets.
The diet clocked its highest score in any category—4.4 stars—for safety. Malnourishment, excessively rapid weight loss, and other serious health risks aren’t major concerns. But as with any diet, your doctor should be consulted before you start the plan—especially if you have a health condition.
The Flexitarian diet earned 3.5 stars, suggesting it’s a solid choice to prevent and manage diabetes. The panelists appreciated that it promotes the right foods, like fruits and veggies, and discourages the wrong ones.
For Heart Health
The plan was considered very effective in the heart-health category. Experts handed out mostly 4s, with a few 5s, too. Research suggests that plant-based diets help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, and heart disease at bay.
Last updated by Angela Haupt | January 08, 2013
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