Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the macrobiotic diet in eight 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.) Experts dealt it mostly lackluster scores, including for its ability to deliver long-term weight loss. They pronounced it somewhat difficult to follow and expressed concern that the diet is too drastic, noting that its nutrition profile leaves much to be desired. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
The diet was given a respectable 3-plus stars out of 5. Experts were moderately confident that dieters would drop pounds in the first year. That’s largely thanks to a ban on processed food and emphasis on healthful and filling whole grains, vegetables, and bean products.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Macrobiotic meal prep is often tedious and the approach awfully restrictive. Dieters must oust many staples of a typical American diet, such as dairy and red meat. However, only a handful of diets rated more than moderately effective on this measure, and the macrobiotic diet’s 2.5 stars were not far below the average for all 29 diets.
Easy to Follow
Experts deemed it rather difficult to follow. Coming in almost a full star below the average for this category, the diet’s 1.7 stars were its worst in any category. It’s a big departure from standard American fare, and grunt work is required to find macrobiotic recipes and prepare meals. You may even have to put your microwave in storage and replace your pots and pans, depending on how strictly you follow the plan.
The Macrobiotic Diet did not fare well for nutritional completeness. Experts gave it 2.5 stars, nearly a full star star below the average score in this category. Compared to the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the plan is a little low on fat and important nutrients like calcium and potassium, and a bit high on carbs and salt. One expert called its nutritional profile “worrisome.”
Experts gave the Macrobiotic diet a “moderately safe” 3 stars, significantly below the 3.7-star average for all diets. Serious side effects are unlikely, but there’s a good chance dieters will come up short on essential vitamins. Some experts said they wouldn’t recommend the approach.
The diet could be moderately effective for preventing and managing diabetes, according to experts. One small study showed it lowered dieters’ levels of A1C, a change indicating improved blood sugar control. Experts gave the diet roughly 3 out of 5 stars, putting it in the middle of the pack in this category.
For Heart Health
Also moderately effective, earning 3-plus stars. Research suggests the diet has a positive effect on cholesterol and on triglycerides, a fatty substance that in excess is linked to heart disease. Most experts agreed the diet is relatively heart-healthy overall.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | January 02, 2013
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