Every year, U.S. News & World Report ranks popular diets across nine categories (including Best Diets Overall, Best Weight-Loss Diets, Best Heart-Healthy Diets, and Easiest Diets to Follow), based on analyses done by a panel of health experts in such fields as nutrition, weight management, diabetes, and public health. The experts judge the diets’ nutritional completeness, effectiveness, ease of use, and potential risks. Out of 40 diets included in its 2019 list, here’s what scored highest for weight loss:
- WW (Weight Watchers) Diet (#1). The WW Freestyle program uses the SmartPoints system that takes into account a food’s nutritional composition (rather than just its calories) and now assigns 0 points to more than 200 foods (beyond just fruits and vegetables), making the diet even more manageable. Overall, WW encourages eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein and discourages sugary and other unhealthy foods, but it doesn’t ban any foods. In addition, the program involves making behavioral and mindset changes and provides live support from successful WW dieters trained in behavioral weight management. WW also scored #4 in Best Diets Overall and tied for #2 (with the Flexitarian Diet) in Easiest Diets to Follow.
- Volumetrics (#2). This emphasizes foods that have a low energy density—that is, are low in calories relative to their weight or volume. The foods are either high in water (such as fruits, nonstarchy vegetables, broth-based soups, cooked pastas and other grains, and yogurt) or in air (such as popcorn and whipped beverages). Basically, it allows you to fill your plate with more food, so you are more satisfied with fewer calories. Volumetrics also ranked #2 in Best Diets Overall.
- Three diets tied for #3: Jenny Craig (easy to follow, nutritionally safe and complete); Flexitarian Diet (emphasizes plant-based foods, while allowing for some animal foods on occasion); and Vegan Diet (good for weight loss, but because it’s so restrictive it ranked #37 in Easiest Diets to Follow). The worst diet for weight loss was the Alkaline Diet.
By the way, the winner in the Best Diets Overall category was, once again, the Mediterranean Diet (last year it tied with the anti-hypertension DASH Diet, which dropped to #2 this year). With its focus on plant foods (including vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains), along with some fish, chicken, and other lean animal protein, plus olive oil and red wine in moderation, this “eminently sensible” diet, as the report described it, is associated with better heart and brain health, diabetes prevention, and weight loss. It’s also easy to follow.
Also see 18 Keys to Healthy Weight Loss.